Last Friday YSM performed “Le Chêne” by Florence Price, “Symphony No. 6, H. 343“ Symphonic Fantasies ”by Bohuslav Martinů and“ Cello Concerto in B minor ”by Antonin Dvořák with Christine Lee as principal cellist .
Gamze Kazakoglu – Collaborating photographer
Yale Philharmonia gave a concert on Friday at Woolsey Hall with music by composers Florence Price, Bohuslav Martin?? and Antonin Dvořák.
The program started with “The Oak” by Price, followed by Martin??Symphony No. 6. After a brief pause, the performance ended with Dvořák’s “Cello Concerto in B minor”, which included a solo by cellist Christine Lee MUS ’23, winner of the Isang Yun International Competition and grand winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.
“[Dvořák] had lost his sister-in-law, with whom he was very close, ”said Christine Lee. “So [his concerto is] goodbye – say goodbye and let someone you love go. I think it’s an emotion that everyone can relate to, and I think that’s why it’s so powerful.
Christine Lee also mentioned that the inclusion in the program of two Czech composers – Dvořák and Martin?? – reflected the opinion of composers on what American sounds and impressions mean to a Czech. According to Christine Lee, this allows for “fascinating” cultural exchanges in a world of many dimensions and cultures, and music provides a means of “continuing the dialogue” and triggering “open conversations”.
The concert included a solo overture by violinist and concertmaster Anna Lee MUS ’23 and a duet between Anna Lee and Christine Lee. According to Anna Lee, the program’s repertoire was “unusual in a good way,” which made the concert “really fun” for everyone on stage as well as the audience. One of the unusual aspects of the concert was the inclusion of Martinů on the program, since according to Anna Lee, Martinů is an underrated composer and Symphony No.6 is not played often due to its brevity. As for the other composers on the program, Anna Lee said that Florence Price was an “incredible” songwriter, but “history has hurt her” as a black individual living in America at the turn of the 20th century.
“With the Black Lives Matter movement, I think racial concerns have become more prominent in this country since COVID-19,” said Anna Lee. “There is certainly a more concerted effort in the classical music industry to pay more attention to the incredible composers who have been ignored just for the color of their skin historically. I think for us that is a amazing opportunity to realize how we maybe don’t even have access to amazing music. ”
Anna Lee also mentioned that it was her first performance since February 2020 due to the pandemic. The program’s “unusual” repertoire was “uncharted territory” for the performers, which, combined with the energy of playing after a long break, created an “scary” performance atmosphere.
For Anna Lee, playing with masks masked facial cues and body language, forcing her to be more expressive in her physical cues to other artists.
According to Anna Lee, MartinŮ’s play has a “very different vocabulary” and is filled with dense and complicated textures. Woolsey Hall was considerably under capacity during the performance, as the only people allowed to attend the concert in person were the students, faculty, and staff of the Yale School of Music and the Sacred Music Institute of Yale. Playing Woolsey, which is acoustically a naturally booming venue, with a limited audience, made the sound echo for about three seconds whenever the performers stopped playing.
Audience member Alina Pong also discussed the change in acoustics.
“As a player I think the timing would be really hard for me to hear,” Pong said. “Although the timing of these pieces was really unpredictable, they did very well. I was curious because there are very few spectators here and the acoustics are very different from before COVID-19. But they did a great job in my opinion.
Playing with masks was also a challenge, according to Christine Lee. She explained that even playing an instrument without a mask takes a lot of physical effort and that with a mask playing a 40-minute piece feels like “running a marathon”.
Either way, Christine Lee thought it was a “gift” for her to have this gig and an opportunity to share what she loves.
“Since the pandemic, I have understood what a live concert means to me. Said Christine Lee. “I’ve always loved playing, but after I was taken out I now know what it feels like not to have it. So I don’t take it for granted at all, and it means so much to me that I can have a night like yesterday.
Anna Lee said the orchestra members were so “happy” and “grateful” to make music together in person. For her, live musical performances are irreplaceable. The pandemic has been difficult for the musicians as they “lost their voice” and were no longer able to communicate with each other as they normally did.
“When you are on stage all together and you share that energy for the sole purpose of making music together, there really is no other feeling like that, ”said Anna.
The School of Music’s next concert will take place on November 18 at Woolsey Hall and feature pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, William Grant Still and Samuel Barber.