Violins of Hope
*Please silence your phone & turn down the brightness*
Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Gwen Hoebig, violin (Violins of Hope: The Hecht Violin)
Sonia Lazar, violin (Violins of Hope)
James Manishen, host
Shelley Faintuch, host
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
Overture on Hebrew Themes, Serge Prokofiev (1891 – 1953)
Hebrew Melody, Op. 33, Joseph Achron (1886 – 1943)
Theme from Schindler’s List, John Williams (b. 1932)
Vienna, My City of Dreams, Rudolf Sieczynski (1879 – 1952)
Three Jewish Dances, Marc Lavry* (1903 – 1967)
Yemenite Wedding Dance
Melody, Myroslav Skoryk (1938 – 2020)
– Intermission –
Symphony No. 3 in F major, op. 90, Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)
Allegro con brio
*Special thanks to the Marc Lavry Heritage Society for their support.
Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Known for cultivating a broad repertoire and looking beyond the mainstream for his strikingly conceived programmes, Daniel Raiskin has been the music director for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra since the 2018/19 season.
Daniel grew up in St. Petersburg, the son of a prominent musicologist, where he attended the celebrated conservatory in his native city. He continued his studies in Amsterdam and Freiburg, first focusing on the viola but was later inspired to take up the conductor’s baton. He studied with maestri such as Mariss Jansons, Neeme Järvi, Milan Horvat, Woldemar Nelson und Jorma Panula.
Along with the WSO, Daniel was appointed Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in 2020/21, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016/17.
During the 2021/22 season, Daniel took the Slovak Philharmonic and participated in a successful residency at at InClassica Festival in Dubai where they shared the stage with Rudolf Buchbinder, Gil Shaham, Daniel Hope and Andreas Ottensamer. The Philharmonic also toured Germany and Austria this past spring (2022) under Daniel’s leadership.
Gwen Hoebig, concertmaster + violin
Recognized as one of Canada’s most outstanding violinists, Gwen Hoebig is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City. As a student she won every major Canadian music competition, and in 1981 was the top prizewinner at the Munich International Violin Competition. A champion of new music, she has given the Canadian premieres of violin concertos by S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté, T.P. Carrabré, Randolph Peters, Gary Kulesha, Joan Tower, Christopher Rouse and Philip Glass, and as soloist with orchestra she has performed all the major violin concerti with orchestras across Canada, the United States and Europe.
Gwen Hoebig joined the WSO as concertmaster in 1987, having been awarded the position as the unanimous choice of the audition committee. In 1993, she was honoured by the Government of Canada when she received the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation, in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She has also been a member of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Music and teaches regularly at the Mount Royal College in Calgary, where she is a member of the Extended Faculty.
Sonia Lazar, violin
Sonia Lazar was born in Moscow, Russia, and spent her early childhood years in Israel, on a kibbutz. She started taking violin lessons at age eight, when her family moved to Calgary. Her passion for violin and orchestral performance has taken her to perform in New Zealand, Spain and Portugal, and in 2012, she performed as concertmaster of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall, New York.
Sonia received a Bachelor of Music degree from Lynn University in Florida, and went on to receive a Master of Music degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, under
the tutelage of Cyrus Forough. From 2012 to 2016, Sonia worked as a freelance violinist in Toronto and performed with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Symphony and Niagara Symphony.
She moved to Winnipeg in August, 2016, to join the first violin section of the WSO. Outside of the Symphony, Sonia is an avid baker, and enjoys playing Klezmer music, spending time with friends, taking long walks and going to local coffee houses.
Shelley Faintuch, host
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Shelley Faintuch is the child of Holocaust survivors. She graduated with the gold medal in Honors French from the University of Winnipeg. She later went on to complete her Masters degree and undertake doctoral research at Laval University. Shelley wrote a monograph and published various academic articles about Language Didactics and Linguistics both English and French. She also coordinated and taught in both
French and English. However, when she began to sense growing anti-Semitism, she moved to Toronto and then to Vancouver where her son, Zev, was born. Shortly thereafter, Shelley decided to return to Winnipeg to raise her son near her parents. She was the Director of Community Relations for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for over 20 years. Shelley speaks English, French, Hebrew and a smattering of Russian. She loves theatre, reading, music, cinema and dance.
James Manishen, host
James Manishen, artistic advisor with the WSO, joined the WSO as a clarinetist in 1966 as the youngest full-time member in the orchestra’s history. James holds a master of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He was the classical music columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and a CBC broadcaster, hosting his own national radio show and appearing on many other CBC classical music shows as host, writer, and commentator. As a writer, he has been published in every major Canadian music journal plus international journals. As an adjudicator, he has judged the Canadian Music Competitions, the JUNOs, Indies, and Prairie Music Awards. In April 2010, James conducted the WSO for the final round of the Doris McLellan Competition for Solo Performance. He has been a WSO staff member since 2004.
Program Notes by James Manishen
Overture on Hebrew Themes
b. Sontsovka, Ukraine / April 23, 1891
d. Moscow / March 5, 1953
Composed: For clarinet, string quartet and piano in 1919; orchestrated in 1934
First performance: Original version on January 26, 1920 (New York City), by the Zimro Ensemble; Orchestral version in 1935 (Prague), conducted by Nikolai Malko
Prokofiev had been in the United States in 1919 completing the score for his opera The Love for Three Oranges for the Chicago Opera. Just after submitting the completed score to the Company, he traveled to New York where he met up with six former fellow students from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. They had formed a chamber ensemble of clarinet, piano and string quartet called Zimro and were in New York to raise funds to build a school
of music in Jerusalem. Its founding member was Simeon Bellison, later to become the longstanding principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic.
Zimro specialized in Jewish music and were looking to add to their repertoire. They had a notebook full of folk and traditional Jewish material and wanted Prokofiev to compose something new for the group based on some of the melodies they had. Prokofiev at first declined, telling his friends that he didn’t want to use tunes other than his own. But out of courtesy, he borrowed the notebook to possibly reconsider.
To his surprise Prokofiev found the material fertile, its phrases and characteristic melodies highly attractive. In two days he sketched the Overture on Hebrew Themes for the group and completed the parts two weeks later for Zimro’s New York recital of January 26, 1920. The work met with much success and was orchestrated several times, Prokofiev’s own orchestration completed in 1934.
Where things get interesting is in the origin of the folk themes Prokofiev used, since he never made mention of which tunes from the notebook he “borrowed.” A French study of the composer by Claude Samuel (1960) contends that Prokofiev supplied new themes, cleverly inventing them in style without sacrificing his own creative identity. It’s possible too that Prokofiev covered over this in his autobiography of 1946, written when the Soviet authorities were promoting the importance of folk music.
The Overture on Hebrew Themes is in two large sections that repeat in their original order. The first theme is an arresting melody over softly emphatic accompaniment. The second has a broader hymn-like melody. An abrupt handful of chords brings this atmospheric piece to a close.
b. Lazdijai, Lithuania / May 1, 1886
d. Los Angeles / April 29, 1943
At age two Joseph “Yossel” Achron composed a tune for his home-made violin. By age five, the family had left Lithuania for Warsaw so that the young prodigy could began studies at the Warsaw Conservatory. At ten he toured Russia, soon after becoming a pupil of the famed violin teacher Leopold Auer, pedagogue of the renowned Jascha Heifetz who would go on to make Achron’s Hebrew Melody world famous.
After Achron graduated in 1904, winning first prize in violin performance, he developed an interest in composition. He put together a little prelude that greatly impressed his harmony
professor Anatoly Liadov, who predicted the “highest marks” for the budding composer on his upcoming examination.
Though Achron still felt his destiny was as a virtuoso violinist and toured with great success – Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto a specialty – he continued composing. In 1906 he published his first work for the famous Julius Heinrich Zimmerman music publishing firm – the same Prelude, Op. 13 Achron had taken to Liadov two years earlier. Many compositions followed.
In 1911 an event took place that would alter Achron’s career. Following a concert, he was approached backstage by a member of the St Petersburg Society for Jewish Music, a new organization devoted to updating and modernizing the presentation of its musical heritage. Achron was thrilled to accept an invitation to join the organization. In half an hour he sketched his first Jewish-flavored work, Hebrew Melody,Op. 33 for violin and piano.
Hebrew Melody’s main theme comes from a fast dance-like tune Achron knew as a child. Achron slows it down with an affecting accompaniment beneath, building his story to an exciting climax ripe with tremolos, decorative cantorial suggestions and virtuosic sequences. A cadenza leads to the opening material’s return, a theme well described years later when Achron made a vocal transcription for his wife who was a Russian poet and singer. In her lyrics:
Israel’s pain fills the earth…and the flooding tears,
the ancient groan, welling upward reach to Heaven’s throne,
where the Lord of Earth and Sky harks to that exceeding bitter cry.
Three Jewish Dances
b. Riga, Latvia / December 22, 1903
d. Haifa, Israel / March 24, 1967
Marc Lavry was born as Marc Levin in Riga, Latvia and at an early age showed exceptional musical talent. At age nine he composed his first piano works. By 12 he was composing for a school orchestra he founded and at 15, he graduated in piano and composition from the Riga Conservatory of Music.
Though a career in music seemed destined for the young artist, Lavry’s parents felt music was not a respectable profession, so they sent their son to Germany to study architecture.
Marc wanted music, so he enrolled in the Leipzig Conservatory and changed his name to Lavry since there was another older composer/conductor by the name of Marc Levin.
Lavry began a conducting career, first in Saarbrücken and then in Berlin – the musical hub of the time – where he also wrote music for Max Reinhardt’s theatrical productions and for films of the European arm of the Universal Production Company. His conducting and composing skills advanced under the formidable tutelage of Bruno Walter and Alexander Glazunov respectively.
During his years in Germany, Lavry began to address Jewish subjects in some of his music. He returned to Riga in 1933, two months after the Nazis took power in Germany, and became the resident conductor of the Riga Opera. But in the wake of the Fascist coup in Latvia he decided to leave the country. He had not yet become involved with Zionism, so Palestine represented only one of several options for him; he briefly considered both the United States and Russia.
In 1935 Lavry and his wife, Helena, made an exploratory trip to Palestine. They were enchanted with the country and settled in Tel Aviv. While joining the Hagana movement (the Jewish underground army) he recorded the signal of the newly formed underground radio station as well as the first-ever recorded version of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva. In his autobiography, he wrote:
I immediately felt that I found my spiritual homeland…. nowhere until arriving to Israel, did I feel that grounded. I felt that I landed where I belong and that I found a place worth fighting for. I felt that the country inspired me as a composer and that here I wrote my best compositions.
By 1937, only two years after his arrival in Israel, he created his new iconic sonority, rhythms and harmonies. He explored the local folklore and established a new musical style that became the foundation of Israeli music. Lavry, the conductor, led every orchestra in Israel and was also a guest conductor with orchestras outside of Israel, usually incorporating his own compositions in the concerts. He was a gifted pianist, an improvisor, and was also a skilled jazz musician. Lavry’s legacy includes compositions from operas to popular music. He was also a prolific arranger and orchestrator of music by other composers in Israel. A decade after immigrating to Israel, Lavry wrote a compilation of Jewish dances which he collated into various versions.
Sher (Scissors Dance) is a Hassidic flavoured dance Lavry recalls from his childhood. Lavry, like many other composers at the time, was introduced to Yemenite music by singer Bracha Zfira.
In Yemenite Wedding Dance, Lavry lowers the temperature of the typical energetic wedding dance to evoke the gentle, calm and shy Yemenite bride. The dance is performed in small steps and soft, round movements of the hands.
In a radio interview, Lavry said: “… I remember that after I visited Kibbutz Degania where we danced all night, the dance left a huge impression on me. An endless Hora dance — with shouts and rhythmic legwork — the young people were wonderful.”
b. Lwów, Polish Republic / July 13, 1938
d. Kyiv, Ukraine / June 1, 2020
Composed: 1982 for the film Vysokyy pereval
Myroslav Skoryk is considered the patriarch of contemporary Ukrainian music. Skoryk has composed a variety of concert works, operas, ballets, jazz and popular music plus music for over 40 films. He often draws on the rich folklore of his Ukrainian heritage in his work and Melody, which was used in the war-time drama Vysokyi Pereval (Highland Pass), has become known by many as “Ukraine’s spiritual anthem.”
Born in Lviv in 1938, Skoryk graduated from the Lviv Conservatory as a composer and
musicologist, and studied at the graduate school of the Moscow Conservatory in the class taught by Dmitry Kabalevsky. Skoryk’s career has influenced many Ukranian composers such as Yevhen Stankovych, Ivan Karabits, Oleh Kyva, Volodymyr Zubitsky and Viktor Stepurko, among others. For many years, Skoryk was secretary of the Ukrainian and USSR Union of Composers and a member of the Academy of Arts of Ukraine. He has held the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine and was awarded the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.
Melody is composed in a three-part form – an opening theme, a brief development section and a reprise of the opening material. The opening theme modulates from A minor to C major and then to E major – a recurring pattern in Ukrainian folk music. The development explores additional keys over an increasingly complex accompaniment that gives way to the reprise, whose additional voices emphasize the first four notes of the main theme. The work was originally written for flute and piano, but the composer scored many versions for various combinations of instruments including full orchestra.
Symphony No. 3
b. Hamburg / May 7, 1833
d. Vienna / April 3, 1897
First performance: December 2, 1883 (Vienna), conducted by Hans Richter
Last WSO performance: 2013; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor
The summer of 1883 found Brahms visiting the German spa of Wiesbaden, which happened to be the home of “a pretty Rhineland girl’’ Brahms had met in January at the home of friends. A cordial friendship it became, though, typically, not leading to anything. Combined with the deaths of several friends plus a feud with his longtime champion Joseph Joachim, Brahms’s emotions (and obvious creative juices) were in full force that summer.
It had been six years since his Second Symphony. When the Third Symphony came along, it was almost universally acclaimed. “When I look at the Third Symphony of Brahms,’’ the great English composer Sir Edward Elgar wrote, “I feel like a tinker.’’
The shortest of Brahms’s four symphonies and the most classical in formal outline, the Third is a masterwork of inarguable logic, invention and beautifully unhurried narrative. Many have felt that it is not only Brahms’s finest work in the form, but among his finest music overall.
Conflicts and contrasts are ideally set in the opening movement, the opening string theme bursting out of the two introductory brass chords, later giving way to a pastoral second theme from the clarinet.
Grace and poise dominate the second movement. The heartfelt third movement replaces the usual scherzo, with cellos in full bloom. A brooding theme introduces the tautly structured finale, ending with a quiet recollection of the opening main theme.
Historical Recap - 1883
Carmen Fantasy, Pablo de Saraste
Piano Trio No. 3, Op. 65, Antonín Dvořák
Life Magazine founded
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (p. I), Friedrich Nietzsche
Metropolitan Opera House grand opening
The Orient Express has first official journey