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UMS Concert Program, November 12, 2017 - The Knights

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The Knights Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen Artistic Directors Avi Avital / Mandolin Kinan Azmeh / Clarinet Sunday Afternoon, November 12, 2017 at 4:00 Rackham Auditorium Ann Arbor 20th Performance of the 139th Annual Season
55th Annual Chamber Arts Series Traditions & Crosscurrents This afternoonÕs performance is supported by Ellie Serras. Media partnership provided by WGTE 91.3 FM. Special thanks to Mark Clague, Jonathan Kuuskoski, and Caitlin Taylor for their participation in events surrounding this afternoonÕs performance. The Knights appear by arrangement with Opus 3 Artists. In consideration of the artists and the audience, please refrain from the use of electronic devices during the performance. The photography, sound recording, or videotaping of this performance is prohibited. PROGRAM Suite Upon One Note Kinan Azmeh, Avi Avital, The Knights Improvisation Upon One Note Henry Purcell Fantasia Upon One Note Giovanni Sollima Viaggio in Italia (excerpt) La Camera Bianca Mr. Avital, Mr. Azmeh Osvaldo Golijov Lullaby and Doina Alex Sopp, flute; Mr. Azmeh Johann Sebastian Bach, Arr. Avi Avital Concerto No. 1 in d minor for Harpsichord, Strings, and Continuo, BWV 1052 Allegro Adagio Allegro Mr. Avital Intermission Franz Schubert, Arr. Colin Jacobsen The Shepherd on the Rock, D. 965 Mr. Avital, Mr. Azmeh, Alex Sopp, flute Kinan Azmeh Concertino Grosso Azmeh Suite for Improvisers and Orchestra (excerpt) November 22 Colin Jacobsen, Siamak Aghaei Ascending Bird ARTIST STATEMENT The Knights are always seeking musical adventurers Ñmusicians, like us, who come from a deeply rooted 
tradition but are eager to look beyond those roots and embrace new means of expression. Mandolinist Avi Avital and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh are our ideal collaborators, bringing new awareness to their instruments through an inventive virtuosity. WeÕre so thrilled to present a program for you tonight that embraces a wide diversity of musical languages, all while remaining rooted in our shared classical tradition. From Europe, we will experience the pastoral longings 
of an alpine shepherd in one of Franz SchubertÕs last 
works, The Shepherd on the Rock, newly arranged in an instrumental version for The Knights with Mr. Azmeh and 
Mr. Avital. We will also hear some of Elizabethan EnglandÕs most astonishing counterpoint and harmonies in PurcellÕs Fantasia Upon One Note. A new world premiere by Mr. Azmeh pays homage to the Baroque tradition of multiple solo voices in dialogue with the collective in his original work, Concertino Grosso. We also travel through the Mediterranean and Middle East with Sicilian composer Giovanni Sollima; the piece Ascending Bird, based on an ancient Persian parable of spiritual transcendence; and with Mr. AvitalÕs and Mr. AzmehÕs solos, improvisations, and compositions throughout the night. Ñ Colin Jacobsen, artistic director SUITE UPON ONE NOTE: IMPROVISATION UPON ONE NOTE (2017) FANTASIA UPON ONE NOTE (1680) Henry Purcell Born September 10, 1659 in Westminster, United Kingdom Died November 21, 1695 in Westminster VIAGGIO IN ITALIA (EXCERPT) (2000) Giovanni Sollima Born October 24, 1962 in Palermo, Italy UMS premieres: Improvisation Upon One Note has never been performed on 
a UMS concert. PurcellÕs Fantasia Upon One Note: The Scottish Ensemble; 
April 2013 in Hill Auditorium. SollimaÕs Viaggio in Italia: The Silk Road Ensemble; March 2013 in Hill Auditorium. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 1680: á ComŽdie-Franaise is founded by decree of Louis XIV of France as 
La maison de Molire in Paris á The first documented tornado in America hits Cambridge, Massachusetts á The Whigs organize processions, to burn effigies of the Pope in London Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 2000: á The first resident crew enters the International Space Station á The PlayStation 2 is released in Japan á America Online purchases Time Warner for $162 billion This opening suite of three interconnected pieces introduces The Knights and special guests Avi Avital and Kinan Azmeh. We also get a chance to look carefully at the building blocks of music, as melody comes to the forefront of a modal improvisation over a ÔCÕ drone note. That ÔCÕ drone carries on throughout PurcellÕs kaleidoscopic counterpoint, which introduces harmony into the program, but still tied to one note. Finally, in contemporary composer Giovanni SollimaÕs ÒLa Camera Bianca,Ó rhythm becomes the primary driving element of a piece that very much is indebted to Sicilian history 
as a crossroads of the Mediterranean. Program note by Colin Jacobsen. LULLABY AND DOINA (2001) Osvaldo Golijov Born December 5, 1960 in La Plata, Argentina UMS premiere: This piece has never been performed on a UMS concert. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 2001: á The NetherlandsÕ Act on the Opening up of Marriage goes into effect, allowing same-sex couples to marry legally for the first time in the world á Nearly 3,000 people are killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US á The iPod is introduced by Apple; Microsoft releases Windows XP This piece starts with a set of variations on a Yiddish lullaby that I composed for Sally PotterÕs film The Man Who Cried, set to function in counterpoint to another important music theme in the soundtrack: BizetÕs aria ÒJe Crois Entendre EncoreÓ from The Pearl Fishers. In her film, Sally explores the fate of Jews and Gypsies in Europe during the mid-years of the 20th century, through a love story between a Jewish young woman and a Gypsy young man. The lullaby metamorphoses into a dense and dark doina (a gypsy slow, rubato genre) featuring the lowest string of the violas. The piece ends in a fast gallop boasting a theme that I stole from my friends of the wild gypsy band Taraf de Ha•douks. Program note by Osvoldo Golijov. CONCERTO NO. 1 IN D MINOR FOR HARPSICHORD, STRINGS, AND CONTINUO, BWV 1052 (1730Ð33) Johann Sebastian Bach Born March 31, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany Died July 28, 1750 in Leipzig Arr. Avi Avital Born October 19, 1978 in Beersheba, Israel UMS premiere: Chicago Symphony Baroque Orchestra conducted by 
Jean Martinon with Kenneth Gilbert on harpsichord; June 1967 at the 
Fair Lane in Dearborn. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 1733: á The first Freemasons lodge opens in Boston á British colonist James Oglethorpe founds Savannah, Georgia á The right of Canadians to keep slaves is upheld in Quebec Bach has always been a dominant part of my musical life. It is the absolute nature of BachÕs music that has given me the freedom to offer this interpretation of Concerto No. 1 in d minor for Harpsichord, Strings, and Continuo. The original is lost, but there are reconstructions written for violin and these feel organic to play on the mandolin. However, the music goes far beyond any given instrument. I wanted to go further: I wanted to underline BachÕs universality. My transcription falls somewhere between the harpsichord and violin versions, looking deep into the music to find out what it needs and what adaptations I can make. The d-minor Concerto involves long sections written almost continuously in semiquavers (16th notes). These carry the intensity of this incredibly dramatic piece. But if you Òzoom out,Ó you can hear the structure more clearly. I seek to give a sense of these solid, long phrases. BachÕs music is full of secrets. No matter how long youÕve been playing it, there is still something to discover every time. Using a different instrument allows you to hear its timelessness in a new way. Program note by Avi Avital. THE SHEPHERD ON THE ROCK, D. 965 (1828) Franz Schubert Born January 31, 1797 in Alsergrund, Vienna Died November 19, 1828 in Vienna Arr. Colin Jacobsen Born 1978 UMS premiere: Soprano Roberta Peters, flutist Samuel Pratt, and pianist 
Warner Bass; October 1953, Hill Auditorium. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 1828: á Andrew Jackson is elected President of the United States á A typhoon kills nearly 10,000 people in Kyushu, Japan á çnyos Jedlik creates the worldÕs first electric motor The Knights have a special place in our hearts for Schubert, whose music lived mostly in living rooms and salons during his lifetime. The KnightsÕ journey also began in a living room setting, and one of our missions is to attempt to transform any space that weÕre in Ñ whether itÕs a large concert hall, a club, or public park Ñ into one of intimacy and connection. The Shepherd on the Rock was SchubertÕs penultimate composition, bursting with sweet longing and a virtuosic ebullience in the final section. The clarinet is given a large role in the original song (for voice, clarinet, and piano), helping to paint the outdoor alpine scene of a shepherd longing for his love far below in the valley. At first glance, it is hard to imagine that Schubert was on the brink of deathÕs door while writing this song, especially in light of the opening and ending sections. However, the middle section text speaks of all hope being abandoned. Even in the coda, the idea of springtime coming and the desire to wander to a better place could be read as Schubert hinting at his own sense of mortality. Schubert often used the sounds of the street (i.e. hurdy gurdy in Wintereisse) and folk music to connect both to nature and the internal life of the characters in his songs. In arranging this song, I found that the mandolin enhances this bucolic atmosphere. Program note by Colin Jacobsen. CONCERTINO GROSSO (2017) Kinan Azmeh Born June 10, 1976 in Damascus, Syria UMS premiere: This piece has never been performed on a UMS concert. When I was approached by the Knights to write , I immediately imagined the excitement that might come from having a collective of individuals from different musical backgrounds approach a written score with maximum freedom and flexibility. I imagined a piece that can take a variety of forms; solo parts that are not bound by the instruments and most importantly, an interaction between the individual (soloists) and the collective (orchestra) that is spontaneous and fragile. In this piece, everyone is a decision-maker and part of the creative process while giving room to the two main characters (in this case, a clarinet and a violin) to tell their stories. I love writing for people and not for instruments, and writing for a group that one knows, loves, and trusts is a dream for any composer. Thank you to the Knights for this beautiful opportunity. Program note by Kinan Azmeh. SUITE FOR IMPROVISERS AND ORCHESTRA (EXCERPT) (2007) Azmeh UMS premiere: These pieces have never been performed on a UMS concert. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 2007: á FranceÕs TGV breaks the record for the worldÕs fastest conventional train á Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union á ppalachian State beats Michigan 34Ð32 in one of the biggest upsets in college football ÒNovember 22Ó is a meditative work that depicts sonic homesickness for the familiar ambient sounds of childhood. I wrote this piece while living abroad, inspired by memory of the sounds of the market that used to exist behind my parentsÕ apartment in Damascus, and the way the slow and steady rhythm of life keeps moving regardless of oneÕs emotions. Program note by Kinan Azmeh. ASCENDING BIRD (2004) Colin Jacobsen and Siamak Aghaei Mr. Jacobsen born 1978 Mr. Aghaei born 1974 in Ahraz, Iran UMS premiere: The Silk Road Ensemble; March 2013 in Hill Auditorium. Snapshots of HistoryÉIn 2004: á The first confirmed wolverine sighting in the state of Michigan in 200 years is spotted by coyote hunters in Ubly, Michigan á Armed robbers steal paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway á Preliminary hearings begin in Iraq for the trial of Suddam Hussein In the summer of 2004, I had the opportunity to visit Iran, the home of Siamak Aghaei and Kayhan Kalhor, musicians and friends that I met through Yo-Yo MaÕs Silk Road Project. The visit was a cultural exchange made possible by Silkroad and was to prove a life-changing experience. Besides learning more about traditional Persian architecture, calligraphy, arts and crafts, and their close link to Persian music, I spent many hours in the homes of both Kayhan and Siamak listening to them play and talk about the philosophy behind their music. Siamak is a bit of a modern-day Bartok in that he travels around Iran making field recordings of folk musicians from the many and varied traditions represented by the different regions of Iran. He dusted off one such recording and the sound that emerged from the speakers gave me a form of vertigo. My ears were held to attention by the sound of an incredibly potent and piercing instrument, which Siamak told me was made out of the fused bones of a bird and measured little more than two inches in length. The music also encoded a popular mythical story of a bird attempting to fly to the sun. Failing on the first two attempts, on the third try the bird loses its physical body in the radiant embrace of the sun, a metaphor for spiritual transcendence. What emerged from this experience was Ascending Bird Ñ comprised of SiamakÕs reinterpretation of the traditional tune to which I added further textural layers and combined with an original introduction and coda. My first orchestration of this tune was for string quartet (Brooklyn Rider) and we recently recorded this full orchestral version (which I like to call ÒBig BirdÓ) for our album Azul, which features our friend and mentor Yo-Yo Ma. Program note by Colin Jacobsen. ARTISTS The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. Through adventurous programming, unbridled energy, and a collaborative music-making process, The Knights bring classical music to life in a way that surprises and inspires both new and longtime listeners. Since their inception in New York City in the early 2000s, The Knights have challenged assumptions about orchestral music. The ensemble grew out of informal chamber music readings at the home of brothers Eric and Colin Jacobsen Ñ now the groupÕs artistic directors Ñ and was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2007. The 36 members of The Knights are graduates of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and other leading music schools and conservatories. They are accomplished soloists, orchestral players, and chamber musicians as well as composers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers who bring a range of cultural influences to the group. The KnightsÕ notable accomplishments include a 2017 Grammy Award nomination for a recording with violinist Gil Shaham; a performance at Jazz at Lincoln CenterÕs Rose Theater as part of the New York Philharmonic Biennial; a debut at Carnegie Hall in the New York premiere of Steven Stucky and Jeremy DenkÕs opera The Classical Style; a US tour with banjo virtuoso BŽla Fleck; a European tour with soprano Dawn Upshaw, including the groupÕs debut at ViennaÕs Musikverein; a debut at the Kennedy Center as part of the inaugural SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras; frequent festival appearances at Ravinia, Caramoor, Big Ears, and Tanglewood; and nine years of free summer performances at Central ParkÕs Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Bryant Park, and BRICÕs Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park. In recent years, The Knights have collaborated and toured with world-renowned musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Lise de la Salle, Joshua Redman, Silk Road virtuoso Siamak Aghaei, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. The group has also collaborated with artists coming from a wide range of artistic disciplines including the Mark Morris Dance Group, visual artist Kevork Mourad, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. Their most recent album, Azul, featured the world-premiere recording of Osvaldo GolijovÕs work Azul with soloist Yo-Yo Ma. The first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy Award, Avi Avital is one of the foremost ambassadors for his instrument. Passionate and Òexplosively charismaticÓ (New York Times) in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. More than 90 contemporary compositions, 15 of them concertos, have been written for him, while his inspired re-imaginings of music for other instruments include the arrangements heard on his 2015 ECHO Klassik Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording Vivaldi. Enhanced by his infectious spirit of adventure and the warm rapport he fosters with his audience, Mr. AvitalÕs path-breaking championship of his instrument is taking the mandolin center stage. Mr. AvitalÕs unprecedented Grammy nomination honored his recording of Avner DormanÕs Mandolin Concerto, a work he commissioned in 2006 with New YorkÕs Metropolis Ensemble under Andrew Cyr. As the first mandolin soloist to become an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, he has made three recordings for the label to date, including Vivaldi, a 2012 album featuring his own Bach concerto transcriptions; and Between Worlds in 2014, a cross-genre chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music. He won his first ECHO Klassik Award for his 2008 collaboration on SONY Classical with the David Orlowsky Trio. Recent performance highlights include BeijingÕs National Centre for the Performing Arts, LondonÕs Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, the Berlin Philharmonie, ZurichÕs Tonhalle, BarcelonaÕs Palau de la Mœsica Catalana, the Paris Philharmonie, and, with a live telecast on Arte, the Palais de Versailles. In spring 2016, Mr. Avital undertook an international tour with a program of arrangements for mandolin, accordion, and percussion drawn primarily from Between Worlds. Mr. Avital has partnered leading artists in a variety of genres, including Dawn Upshaw, Andreas Scholl, Juan Diego Fl—rez, Giora Feidman, Ray Chen, David Greilsammer, Mahan Esfahani, Richard Galliano and Ksenija Sidorova, Itamar Doari, and the Enso and Danish String Quartets, as well as a host of international orchestras from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to the Israel Philharmonic. He is also a favorite on the international festival circuit, having appeared at the Aspen, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Ravenna, and Verbier festivals. The winner of the first-prize Doris and Mori Arkin Award at IsraelÕs prestigious Aviv Competitions in 2007, Mr. Avital is the first mandolinist in the history of the competition to be so honored. Hailed as a ÒvirtuosoÓ and Òintensely soulfulÓ by the New York Times, ÒspellbindingÓ by the New Yorker and 
for his Òincredibly rich soundÓ by the CBC, clarinetist Kinan AzmehÕs utterly distinctive sound across a variety of musical genres is quickly gaining international recognition.Ê Born in Damascus, Syria, Mr. Azmeh was the first Arab to win the premierÊprize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition in Moscow. He is a graduate of New YorkÕs Juilliard School as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High Institute of Music, where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof, and Anatoly Moratof; and Damascus UniversityÕs School of Electrical Engineering. He earned his doctorate in music from the City University of New York in 2013. Mr. Azmeh has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer, and improviser. Notable appearances include Opera Bastille, Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the UN General Assembly, Royal Albert Hall, Teatro Colon, der Philharmonie, the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, the Mozarteum, and the Damascus Opera House for its opening concert in his native Syria. As a soloist Mr. Azmeh has appeared with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, NDR Big-Band, Kiev Camerata, The Knights, the Izmir State Opera Orchestra, Corasara Orchestra, Osnabruck Symphony, Morgenland Festival Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonic, New Juilliard Ensemble, and the Syrian Symphony Orchestra. He has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Marcel Khalife, Aynur, Daniel Barenboim, Jivan Gasparian, Zakir Hussain, Francois Rabbath, Simon Shaheen, Solhi-al-Wadi, Calefax Reed Quintet, and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.Ê Mr. AzmehÕs compositions include several solo, orchestra, and chamber music works as well as pieces for film, live illustration, and electronics. His discography comprises three albums with his ensemble Hewar, several soundtracks for film and dance, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, and a recent album with his New York Arabic/jazz quartet. He serves asÊartistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Music Ensemble, with whom he released an album of new contemporary Syrian chamber music written especially for the ensemble by various composers. He is also a frequent guest faculty at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and is on the advisory board of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. He is a member of Yo-Yo MaÕs Silk Road Ensemble. THE KNIGHTS Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen / Artistic Directors Violins Colin Jacobsen Guillaume Pirard Christina Courtin Emily Daggett Smith Amie Weiss Sally Koo Violas Miranda Sielaff Mario Gotoh Alissa Smith Cellos Caitlin Sullivan Paul Wiancko Bass Shawn Conley Flute Alex Sopp Percussion Jeremy Smith UMS ARCHIVES UMS welcomes The Knights and Avi Avital as they make their UMS debuts this afternoon. This afternoonÕs performance marks Kinan AzmehÕs second appearance under UMS auspices, following his UMS debut in January 2009 in performances of his original composition The Epic of Gilgamesh with artist Kevork Mourad at the Biomedical Sciences Research Building Auditorium. This afternoonÕs performance marks Colin JacobsenÕs fifth UMS appearance, following his UMS debut in March 2009 with the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma at Hill Auditorium. He most recently appeared at UMS in November 2013 at Rackham Auditorium with his quartet, Brooklyn Rider, and guest banjo soloist BŽla Fleck. THIS AFTERNOONÕS VICTOR FOR UMS: Ellie Serras Supporter of this afternoonÕs performance by The Knights. MAY WE ALSO RECOMMEND... 11/17Ð19    New York Philharmonic 12/8    Bach Collegium Japan 2/2    Gabriel KahaneÕs Book of Travelers Tickets available at ON THE EDUCATION HORIZONÉ 11/16Ð19    New York Philharmonic Residency     Please visit for a complete listing of activities. 11/18    UMS 101: New York Philharmonic Young PeopleÕs Concert     (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Boulevard, 12 noon)     Paid registration required; please visit to register. 12/2    Pre-Show Talk: Musical Text Painting in HandelÕs Messiah     (Michigan League Henderson Room, 911 N. University Avenue, 
6:00 pm) Educational events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

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