Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP) proudly announces Texas Capital Bank is the Title Sponsor of the final concert of FACP’s 39th annual Basically Beethoven Festival. The program, titled “Paris Connections,” features chamber music for flute and strings, with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and French composers François Devienne, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy. The performance is Sunday, July 28, at 2:30 p.m. in Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.
Capital Bank is such a fine community partner and business leader,” says FACP Executive
Director Emily Guthrie. “We admire their outreach to underserved communities and
feel a kinship between that and our work to break down barriers that prevent North
Texans from experiencing and enjoying classical music. Texas Capital Bank’s
sponsorship again this year has allowed us to improve the Festival for our
audience and our musicians. We love producing concerts that are free for all to
attend, and we are thankful for Texas Capital Bank’s vision in helping us do
program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 p.m. followed by a Feature
Performance at 3 p.m. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young
musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area. The
July 28 Rising Star Recital features two student musicians: Anais Feller,
violin, and Ella Tran, piano performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 8, op. 30 no. 3.
Performance musicians, Margaret Fischer,
flute; Lucas Aleman, violin; Lauren Menard, viola; and Una Gong, cello; come together for performances
of music related to the artistic hub and inspirational oasis of Paris:
Devienne: Duo No. 5 for flute and viola
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Quartet in D
Major, K. 285
Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and
Claude Debussy (arr. Bernard Chapron):
Six Epigraphes Antiques
The Basically Beethoven Festival is made
possible in part by Texas Capital Bank, The John Baptiste “Tad” Adoue III Fund
of the Dallas Foundation, Moody Fund for the Arts, Texas Commission on the
Arts, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, Ben E. Keith, VisitDallas,
and DART. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to
the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents
free, monthly Hallam Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum
of Art. Since its inception, FACP has served over 250,000 children and
performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.
About Texas Capital Bank Texas Capital Bank, N.A. is a commercial bank that
delivers highly personalized financial services to businesses and
entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in Texas working with clients throughout
the state and across the country. Texas Capital Bank is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ®: TCBI) and is recognized
as a Forbes Best Banks in America and the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places
To Work company. For more information, visit www.texascapitalbank.com.
The 39th annual Basically Beethoven Festival concludes this Sunday, July 28, with an afternoon of music for flute and strings. Local artist Margaret Fischer is a featured performer and she’s participated in this interview for our audience to get an insider’s look at the concert.
When did you start playing the flute? Why did you choose the instrument? Did you learn other instruments? I started playing the flute when I was 10 in my elementary school’s 5th grade music elective class. The woman who ran the program became my private flute instructor from 6th grade until I started college. Unlike here in Texas, where the kids get to try out instruments under the watchful eye of pros to determine what they’re suited for (I think of it as the “instrument petting zoo”), I was just told to pick one of a bunch of instruments on a table. The flute was the shiniest, so that’s what I chose! Luckily for me, I took to it well. Piano was my first instrument but I only took lessons for less than a year – it was evident that I was never going to be a pianist! I haven’t had any formal training on other instruments but I can play basic guitar chords.
When did you decide to become a professional musician? I think I was around 15 years old when I decided that I wanted to pursue music as a career. There was no one magic moment or lightning bolt where everything changed – I just woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t imagine spending my life doing anything else.
Does being a classical musician influence what music you listen to for fun? Because I’m exposed to so much music for work reasons, sometimes I fall in love with pieces that I never would have encountered any other way, and I will crave listening to it even when the performance is long over. I listen to lots of non-classical music as well, and I don’t think it’s weird to have a diverse playlist. It’s like having a wide variety of food in your diet – music is food for the ears!
There’s no “standard” ensemble on today’s program, such as a woodwind quintet or string quartet. How did you decide what to include on your program? Did you decide on ensembles first, or build an ensemble around the pieces you chose? Alex McDonald had asked me if I had any “wishlist” pieces that I wanted to play, and the one that immediately came to mind was the Mozart flute quartet in D Major. I played many woodwind quintets while in school, but it’s a rare opportunity for me to get to collaborate with strings, so I jumped at the chance. The Debussy was another wishlist piece for me (in its flute/piano incarnation), so it was very exciting to discover this arrangement for the exact instrumentation that we already had for the Mozart! To balance out the program, we thought it would be nice to feature the ensemble in duos.
What piece or recording should everyone have in their music library? Ah, this is such a hard question! There’s one specific CD I’m rather attached to – it’s a 1983 recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The climax of that piece has an unbelievably vocal quality to it, it astounded me when I first heard it! The recording is on Spotify, but it’s better experienced from the CD.
What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience, and why? I’m excited for the entire program! But, I think the Mozart will be a particular treat. I hope the audience has as much fun listening to it as we are having playing it!
What advice would you give 14-year-old you? Slow down and practice your fundamentals more!! It’s not about how fast you can play today, it’s about how well you can play years from now. You’re in this for the long haul, so take the time to do things right.
Bonus question: flutist or flautist? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet! I don’t have a preference, but “flutist” seems to be more commonly used in America while “flautist” seems more commonly used overseas.
Dr. Alex McDonald
is well-known to our audience as the Basically Beethoven Festival Director: if
you’ve attended the concerts you have heard his introductions, his phenomenal
playing, and his groan-inducing musical puns. Here he gives our audience insight
into the 2019 Festival and the June 21 program in particular, when he will be
one of the Featured Performers.
Where did the name Basically Beethoven
come from? When FACP Co-Founder Rogene Russell
founded the concert series, Mostly Mozart had been making waves in New York
City for more than a decade. I think that’s where the alliterative part of the
name came from. As to why ‘Beethoven,’ I think he was chosen because of his
incredible appeal, passion, and his role at a turning point in the development
of art music.
Why come to Basically
Beethoven? What if someone doesn’t know much about classical music? Firstly — its free! But perhaps more importantly,
Basically Beethoven has great music of all kinds! We hope to have something for
everyone: from the humorous to the profound, the sweet to soulful, sad to
joyful. Our programming features both treasured classics to new, award-winning
works. And, as an added bonus, our
world-class artists are local. If the performance inspires you to want to know
more or even pursue your own musical journey, the performers live relatively
Is there a specific piece being performed for the Festival this
year that you’re particularly excited about? I am excited to present Schumann’s
piano quintet – which is a long-time favorite. And the chance to perform
Beethoven’s Piano Trio op. 1, no 1 (his first published work) is very
exciting to me.
What’s your job like
as festival director? Do you have a favorite part of the gig – programming,
performing, people, etc.? This is an easy one. My favorite part
by far is just listening to the music! Moody is such a great
performance space, and the artists are such incredible communicators. The
repertoire they choose is a wonderful extension of who they are as people. It
feeds my soul and challenges me to go practice!
There are a lot of
composers featured throughout the festival other than Beethoven. How do you
decide who and what to program every week?I always like to hear from the artists about what they
want to play. To me, this helps keep the sense of creativity and interest and
2020 will be
Beethoven’s 250th birthday and the 40th annual Basically Beethoven Festival.
Are there big plans in the works, and can you offer a sneak peak of anything to
come?There are big plans! No hints yet –
but stay tuned. We are beyond excited at what is to come.
Evan and Jonathan not only share a stage but a piano at the second concert of the 2019 Basically Beethoven Festival on Sunday, July 14. The program features music for “piano four hands” which is when two pianists share one instrument. They’ll be sharing the stage as performers for the first time for our Festival audience! They sat down after a rehearsal for our Q&A to give an insider’s look at what they’re doing and how they got here.
How old were you when started studying piano, and when you realized you could be a professional musician?JONATHAN: I started studying piano at 5 ½ years old – the realization that I could be a professional musician happened well after it probably should have, right after undergrad when I got my first significant paycheck from doing outreach concerts with The Cliburn (for the Cliburn in the Classroom program) for the first time. EVAN: I started at age 7. I was fortunate never to have had teachers or my parents say I couldn’t be a professional musician. I started to consider it more seriously in seventh or eighth grade after attending a competition held at a conservatory, when it hit me the students there pretty much did this full-time.
On the 14th, you two will be playing several pieces originally written for full orchestra. Can you explain what an arrangement is? EVAN: An arrangement is basically when someone has taken a piece of music and rewritten it, without changing the notes, for different performing forces. Sunday’s program all went from orchestral to piano settings, but the opposite happens frequently as well, where a piece (Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, for instance) starts as a piano work and is expanded for a larger ensemble.
Do you all have experience arranging music yourselves?JONATHAN: I guess that’s sort of a yes and no answer for me. The extent of arranging for me is taking a piece that has already been reduced for piano (usually concerto accompaniment reductions) and adding or subtracting elements here and there based off of what I think sounds closer to the original orchestral texture. There’s a bit more leeway with the actual notes on the page when dealing with arrangements/transcriptions than say, a Beethoven Sonata.
What is different about learning/performing pieces like this (originally written for large ensembles) than for a more standard piano work?EVAN: With one person playing a solo piano work, there’s a degree of flexibility often built into the way the music is written — especially in the Romantic period — and sometimes added at the performer’s discretion. A large ensemble, though, has such inertia that changes in speed need to be really proportional. Think: the difference between a jet-ski and a cruise ship. To play in a fluid way and evoke all the colors of the orchestra, without some of the flexibility you’d normally have when interpreting music at the keyboard, is tricky.
How did the two of you meet and start collaborating?JONATHAN: Evan and I met while doing Cliburn in the Classroom (Evan as the pianist and me as host), and while we had been doing different concerts together for The Cliburn and Ensemble75, this concert Sunday will be the first time (out of many, hopefully) that we share the stage both as performers.
What makes playing piano four hands (two pianists sharing a keyboard) unique or special versus two pianists on two pianos performing one piece?JONATHAN: Real estate. Pianists are so very used to having the entirety of the keyboard (and the bench!) to themselves that once another body is added to a single keyboard, all of the angles (arms/hands/feet relative to the piano) change. Quite often there will be passages that require one person to play a note and then cede the note to the partner much quicker than if they were to be playing alone — a significant part of rehearsal is spent working out the choreography/traffic jam. On the plus side, the individual parts are usually a bit easier to learn and I have learned quite a bit from Evan during rehearsals, which is one of the main reasons I collaborate with people. EVAN: You really have to play as one, which is harder in some ways than playing as two polished performers in dialogue. The way you have to balance sounds across one keyboard, sometimes while contorted into pretty uncomfortable positions, is deceptively difficult.
Last year we had a program featuring two pianists on two pianos. Why would a composer choose to write something with pianists sharing one keyboard?JONATHAN: Like, pianos are expensive, man. Composing/arranging for one piano (whether it’s for one or two pianists) rather than two pianos increases the likelihood of it being performed. EVAN: But a full orchestra is expensive-er. And that’s exactly why many of these pieces were arranged for four-hand piano in the first place; before the advent of recorded sound, this was the only way for most folks to experience this music aside from hearing an orchestral performance.
The pieces you all will perform are all connected in a few ways: they have been in movies or TV shows, were all written in the 19th century; how did you choose your program for Basically Beethoven this year?JONATHAN: Very basically, I asked Evan about some pieces that would be a good fit with the Debussy (which I had performed before, but the two-piano version) and we negotiated around some works and they all happened to share the “outdoorsy” theme. EVAN: They’re all crowd-pleasers, which makes it fun for the audience. They also all happen to rely a lot for their effectiveness on orchestral colors and different timbres, which is a rewarding challenge for us to have to recreate on the piano.
What type of music did you listen growing up? What do you listen to now? JONATHAN: I listened to lots of things growing up — I think if you look up my Now Hear This from 2016 there’s a Dolly Parton story in there (Editor’s Note: indeed, there is!). It ranged from classical to alternative rock to whatever Taiwanese karaoke hits my parents sang. My current collection in my car (SD card reader is amazing) includes Radiohead, Hiromi Uehara, OutKast, Bill Evans, The Roots, other random collections of songs made for various road trips from artists I couldn’t name, as well as CDs of music of Lowell Liebermann, Evgeny Kissin’s 1984 debut performing both Chopin concerti, and the Cezanne Quartet’s album of music by Kevin Puts, Mendelssohn, and Bartok. That’s some of what I listen to when/if I’m not listening to a podcast. EVAN: I grew up right outside New York and loved going to jazz clubs throughout middle and high school, and whenever I’m back that way to visit. Classical’s always been part of it, especially from my high school years onward. I recently made a trip to Houston, and I’d say the drive was divided between Punch Brothers, Nas, and Tchaikovsky.
What piece or recording should everyone have in their music library?EVAN: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing the Rachmaninoff Fourth Concerto; Murray Perahia playing anything by Mozart or Bach. JONATHAN: Carlos Kleiber – Tribute to a Unique Artist.
Which piece are you most excited to perform on the 14th?EVAN: Probably the Mussorgsky. ANight on Bald Mountain is lots of fun, and with such a catchy opening, it’s one of those pieces that everyone, even musicians, thinks they know but may not actually be all that familiar with all the way through. JONATHAN: The Rossini. I have basically one moment that I need to get around (the first part of the Lone Ranger theme – harder than I expected!) and then I get to sit back and watch Evan sweat out all the hard parts.
The 2019 Basically Beethoven Festival opens with an afternoon of music for the clarinet, including a recent work by Dallas-based composer Kimberly Osberg. Read on to learn more about her influences, what Billy Joel and Igor Stravinsky have in common, and get insight into her piece Interplay, which will be performed at the July 7 concert, “The American Sound.”
Composer Kimberly Osberg
What does a week in the life of a composer in Dallas look like? Do you have time to compose built into your day? I’m fortunate enough to be working with the Dallas Chamber Symphony, both for event operations and as librarian. Both jobs can get pretty time-intensive near concert time, but the flexibility of working from home most of the season allows me to make my own schedule—so my week can change a lot! I like the variety, however – it makes every day feel like a new one, which can be a really helpful way to reset after a bad composing session or a long day at the concert hall. Some weeks are less about writing music (I may not write a single note!) and more about meeting musicians or hearing new work; other weeks are more about learning new skills to help my business grow; some weeks I find time to write every day. There is always something going on in Dallas, so – especially as an artist – it’s been really great to adjust my schedule regularly in order to experience what the metroplex has to offer!
What kind of music do you like to listen to? Does what you listen to influence what you write? I grew up listening to classic rock and jazz, and I think a lot of the rhythms and musical concepts I work with reflect that. In the last few years I’ve really challenged myself to branch out in my listening: I listened to a lot of dead, European composers when I was in school, so since graduating I’ve been moving away from that to see what the world of music has to offer—and it’s a lot! Rap, hip-hop, trance, indie rock, folk metal, experimental electoacoustic installations, the various trends in film music – there’s a vibrant and meaningful community for everything, and I try to listen around as much as I can. I end up synthesizing some facet or sound or rhythm or texture from everything I listen to – but always within the context of my own soundworld. For example, I don’t try to write rap or use their instruments in my music, but sometimes the rhythmic interplay that an artist like Kendrick Lamar can pull out from text alone really changes the way I think about setting text in my own work.
When did you decide to pursue music, specifically composition, as a career? It was more of a gradual realization that I would be pursuing composing. I wrote my first piece when I was in high school – for full orchestra – and I really loved the experience of writing music for my friends and trying to think of ways to make the piece fun for them. From there I ended up at the Tanglewood Institute, where it hit me that there were living people writing concert music—like, a lot of them! That summer really made me think about pursuing composition, and throughout the course of my liberal arts degree at Luther College it became more and more clear that writing music was going to be my full-time path.
Walk us through the process of receiving a commission to write a piece. Do you have constraints like time or ensemble size, or is that usually up to you? Because I went to small schools for a large part of my education, it was always the case that you found the ensemble before writing the piece. For that reason, commissions have usually been the result of conversations between myself and musicians who were interested in working together: this means that the ensemble size/instrumentation is usually preordained by whoever I’m talking to. In short, I don’t write a piece and find players later. I always find the players first, and it’s usually my job to tell the players I’m interested in writing for them (though more players have approached me recently, which is very exciting!). Time constraints, technical features, extended techniques, mutes and so forth are things I discuss with the performers directly as I work on the piece; I like to make musicians part of the process because they feel more invested in the work, and they also tend to know a lot more about their instruments and capabilities. My favorite experience is to add something new to a musicians’ toolbox through my music—a new technique, a new favorite way to play their instrument, a new way to interact with their fellow performers—but I try to do so in a way that makes them feel comfortable enough to try.
The biggest two exceptions to this were my opera (which was my undergraduate thesis, though I had singers in mind as I wrote), and Rocky Summer, the work that was just premiered by the Dallas Chamber Symphony this past spring. Both were pretty challenging for me, because I was composing in a bubble—away from the input and collaboration of players. I still worked through issues and adjusted things in rehearsal, but the bulk of composing for these commissions was done in isolation.
As a composer, do you rely more on inspiration or a certain process to write your music? What inspired or helped you write your piece Interplay? I tend to think of inspiration as “conscious excitement.” Once I get all the constraints—how long, will it be one movement or four, what instruments, what techniques do the musicians want to try out, what are the musicians’ goals, what is the venue, what other pieces are being programmed, etc.—I start generating ideas that I think will fit those constraints well.
In the case of Interplay,the musicians and I had wanted to work together, and they had an upcoming concert at the Dallas Contemporary for an exhibit on work by internationally-acclaimed artist Ian Davenport—they would be performing a concert in front of the artwork at the gallery. [In composing,] I had not just the interests of the musicians, but of the artist, and the Dallas Contemporary to consider as well.
I met with the musicians, and we talked about what kinds of goals they had—they wanted to demonstrate the range of colors their ensemble had, the technical capacity of each individual, and their strength of playing well off of and with one another. The artist walked me through his exhibit and showed me several paintings, but one in particular seemed to be the one he really wanted the piece to be about (from his “Colorfall” series). After speaking with him, it was exciting to learn we thought about our crafts in a lot of similar ways—balance, a changing relationship with the art over time, rhythm and color, vivacity, and so on. The musicians and the artist talked a lot about relationships—colors and lines playing off each other in real time—so I had a title, Interplay, and the concepts I needed to work with.
Some composers write their music at coffee shops, some have hidden cabins out in the mountains, some carry notepads and write down ideas as they come. Where do you like to compose, and why? I wish I had a cabin in the mountains! Many of my favorite works in my catalogue have either been written in or about mountains. Since I travel a lot and maintain a pretty busy schedule outside of composing, I don’t tend to tie myself down to any one “composing place.” All I really need is some quiet, my laptop (or some paper), and my headphones. There are some great coffee shops in Dallas, but all of them play music over the speakers, so unless I’m really focused it’s actually pretty distracting to work there most of the time. Composing at home is usually my default these days.
Do you have a favorite piece, composer, or genre of music? My two favorite composers growing up were Billy Joel and Stravinsky. I’ve had a lot of other favorites over the years, but those two have remained constant since I was in high school. It’s basically impossible for me to pick a favorite piece, but there are a lot of really great living composers out there right now; ones who I really admire include Andrew Norman, Nina C Young, Sky McKlay, Jake Heggie, Katie Balch, Joel Thompson, Kevin Puts, and Chris Cerrone.
What’s your favorite sound? I really love the sound when you drop one wooden bowl into the other: that satisfying *clack* is one of the most perfect sounds I can imagine. Also laughter – people have so many unique, interesting, quirky laughs. Least favorite sound? I despise wet, chewing sounds. I know they can be used effectively, but it hurts me.
What advice would you give 14-year-old you? Soak it all up! The world is a really beautiful, exciting, vibrant place with many hidden wonders if you’re brave enough to look for them. Always be kind, even when someone won’t return that courtesy to you. Be the person people aren’t afraid to mess up around. Be bold in accepting and fighting for yourself when necessary, but be open to the idea you may not always be right. And always know where your health insurance is accepted.
The final concert of the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival is a look at “Art Song,” intimate pieces by French and American composers performed for us by operatic bass Jared Schwartz and pianist Mary Dibbern. We interviewed Mr. Schwartz so our audience can get to know the local musician before hearing him at Moody Performance Hall on Sunday. Read on to learn why he stopped being a pre-med student to focus on voice, and when he “decided to give singing a chance.”
What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience? “Jeanne d’arc au bûcher” (Joan of Arc at the Stake) is a French song by Franz Liszt. Joan is preparing to walk to the pyre to be burned alive at the stake. You get to experience all the emotions of her fears and her faith as she ascends the platform, and then passes into heaven to find her eternal reward. Every time I sing this piece, I have to stop for a moment afterwards and thank God for such incredible music.
How old were you when you started studying voice? Why did you decide to, and did you learn any other instruments? I started piano at age 3 and originally thought that would be my path. I was actually a piano major in college, and I grew up studying violin and French horn. Additionally, I sang in (and accompanied) choirs and musicals, but never actually studied singing until halfway through my sophomore year of college at Bethel College, thanks to my voice teacher, Vicky Garrett. A year and a half later I auditioned for graduate school at the Eastman School of Music for voice and, after I got in, decided to give singing a chance. After graduate school, I have flown every six or so weeks to NYC to study with my voice teacher of the past 11 years, David Jones. Singing is definitely my favorite of all my instruments, but they all influence my singing.
When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician? I began college as a Chemistry/Pre-Med/French Horn/Piano major (yes, all four). It was absolutely insane. I had a blast learning so many different things but I was sick every two weeks from lack of rest! After one semester of that, I decided to hone in on music and use medical school as my Plan B. At this point, I think music is where I’ll stay.
What type of music did you listen to growing up, and what do you listen to now? I grew up making a lot of music in church, whether contemporary Christian or classical. I also did lots of musicals, so show tunes are practically in my DNA. I grew up in a small town in Indiana of about 3,000 people, that just happens to have an oratorio society, so I grew up singing in Messiah and other oratorios, as well. For growing up somewhat in the middle of nowhere, I was very fortunate to have a multitude of musical experiences.
Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To sing? My favorite composer to listen to, as of late, is Mieczysław Weinberg. His orchestral music, particularly his cello concerto, are sublime. My favorite composer to sing is Verdi, particularly his Requiem. He knew exactly how to write for the bass voice. He elevated basses from silly buffo roles to real, emotional, powerful lyrical singing. I also like to sing songs I’ve written. Then the only person I can blame for writing something difficult is myself!
What advice would you give 14-year-old Jared? Your love for music will carry you much further than you can ever imagine. Just keep making music, keep pushing yourself, keep learning, and keep enjoying every note and every step you take along the way. Also, practice SLOWLY!
What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Study as many instruments as possible! The more well-rounded a musician you are, the greater your palette of expression will be on your (eventual) chosen instrument. It is very easy for me to think orchestrally because I have studied nearly all the instruments in the orchestra. Also, read the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve read it three times and my artistic confidence expands every time.
What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound? My favorite musical sound is the cello, or anything in D-flat major. Non-musically, I love the sound of water, whether the ocean or a great thunderstorm. My least favorite sound is music sung without any meaning behind it…or snoring (I’m a light sleeper).
When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? I’d probably have all the great Wagnerian singers of the past (Birgit Nillson, Hans Hotter, Jon Vickers, etc.) bust out some giant gospel music number with a huge orchestra and choir, and probably some dancers, too, to keep things really exciting! It would be rockin’!
Ms. Brooks, cellist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, joins flutist Shauna Thompson and pianist Shields-Collins Bray for the July 8 concert of the Basically Beethoven Festival. Read on to her thoughts on Beethoven’s storytelling, her favorite composers, what she would have changed about herself in high school, and more!
What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience? The Beethoven Sonata is special to me as I have vivid memories of chamber music readings while a college student that often went well into the night. It’s a happy piece that works well in the summertime, and the first movement seems complete in its storytelling.
How old were you when you started playing the cello? Why did you choose it and did you learn any other instruments? I began lessons on the piano at age 5 with my father. While learning violin in the fifth grade, we learned that the one cellist in our little elementary school orchestra was moving away. So, thinking that I would be bored playing the violin another year, I switched to the cello to fill the gap. Then I fell in love with the deeper sounds. I continued piano and theory studies all through high school, which was invaluable in my overall music training.
When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician/performer? The 8th grade. Seriously. It has just been my passion for as long as I can remember.
What type of music did you listen to growing up, and what do you listen to now? Both of my parents had music degrees, so I was listening to Mozart Overtures and late-Beethoven string quartets while a toddler. We had season tickets to the Abilene Philharmonic since elementary school. As a teenager, I would listen to some pop music in high school. Now, I often listen to music that I’m preparing for upcoming concerts or classical favorites that speak to my soul.
Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? Brahms and Mahler. It’s hard to choose between those two. They are both so emotionally complex in their music.
What advice would you give 14-year-old Debbie? “Seriously, Debbie, talent is not enough. You need to practice more! Quit being quite so social!”
What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? If you think that you might do anything else, then don’t major in music. It has to consume you, like there’s nothing else in the world that you want to do. Then you will have sufficient drive and curiosity to learn everything you need to learn, as well as fit in all of the practice time.
What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound? Favorite sound: Rain falling on parched earth or waves hitting a beach. Least favorite sound: Anything that is so annoyingly repetitive that it’s like torture.
When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? Mahler conducting an orchestra of all of the great orchestral players that have gone before me playing the end of his Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection!
Audiences at the first concert of the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival will hear the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. Mr. Mason is quite an accomplished composer, regardless of his young age. He grew up in Dallas and graduated from North Dallas High School. He first became acquainted with Fine Arts Chamber Players through an in-school demonstration by one of our troupes, and eventually was part of our scholarship program for private lessons.
Enjoy this interview with Mr. Mason to learn more about his process for composing, his history (including his first time in the audience at the DSO with rock star Sting on stage), and his interests.
Why was the String Quartet No. 5 selected for this concert? This one is a representation of my current style. I’d say it marks the emergence of the compositional voice that I experiment with today. The fourth movement of this quartet has been performed before, but this is the first time the entire piece has been performed in public – it’s a World Premiere.
How old were you when you started playing an instrument? When you started composing? When I was 10 I started piano classes at my elementary school. That led to an interest in exploring music more. I took private lessons and had extra practice on the keyboard after school. That led to improvising, exploring, and creating music.
After piano, I started the cello about 2 years later; and I did the recorder at school. Cello was my first experience playing with an ensemble through orchestra, the New Conservatory of Dallas. In high school, North Dallas High School, I joined band for the first time in the percussion section.
I was 10, actually, when I started composing. I even drew my own staff paper for my earliest pieces!
Can you walk us through your process of how you compose a piece? Sometimes the idea comes first, sometimes the rhythm comes first. I’ll take all the ideas and put them in a little black notebook I keep. Eventually, I’ll put all the notes together and order them. Then one idea – a theme – will come to the forefront and I might voice that with a particular instrument, then fill out the other sections … essentially, it’s taking ideas and shaping them into a larger picture.
When did you decide to pursue a career as a composer? In high school. It was my band director Mr. Warmanen who encouraged my composition by letting me composer for the band and letting me compose my own pieces for the band. And this was after I’d taken some time off from music in middle school.
What type of music did you listen to as a kid, and what do you listen to now? My mom brought me up on ’80s and ’90s music, mostly R&B and hip-hop. So, classical music was something I had to seek out on my own through the radio. I still listen to classical music, but I’ve recently gotten into salsa music and Latin music, in general.
Growing up in Dallas, what were some arts organizations you interacted with? FACP – I was a scholarship student and received free cello lessons in elementary and middle school. Once I left the cello, FACP was able to facilitate composition lessons for me.
I grew up in the audience at the DSO. First performance was seeing Sting in Peter & the Wolf at the DSO. I still remember that! That was a school trip.
Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? Igor Stravinsky is my favorite of all time. It used to be Tchaikovsky, but once I heard “Rite of Spring, I thought – this is my man. The reason why I like Stravinsky so much is because he experimented with different styles, but he always sounds like himself at the same time. That’s unique and inspiring.
What advice would you give 14-year-old Quinn? You’re not going to be an actor, stop writing screenplays. Practice more piano, listen to a lot more contemporary music because it’ll really open your mind. And, just be yourself – don’t try to be someone else.
What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Make lots of friends and be very social because music is a universal experience and very collaborative. Be nice to everyone and don’t burn your bridges – those connections can really help you in college and in your career.
What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Favorite sound – I’d have to say the sound of an orchestra tuning up. It’s very refreshing to hear lots of open strings and warming up. Least favorite sound – when people clap after the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6.
When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? I want to hear Stravinsky conduct his own “Rite of Spring.” That’s what I really want to hear.
Funding supports first concert of free summer series; program includes World Premiere by up-and-coming local composer Quinn Mason
We are pleased to announce Texas Capital Bank as the Title Sponsor of the first concert of FACP’s 38th annual Basically Beethoven Festival. The performance is Sunday, July 1, at 2:30 p.m. in Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.
“Texas Capital Bank is proud to support the Basically Beethoven Festival,” says Effie Dennison, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. “We see the power of music to enrich our community and provide wonderful opportunities for children, and we are happy we can take part in such a unique and special event.”
FACP’s Interim Executive Director Emily Guthrie adds, “Texas Capital Bank has shown tremendous leadership in the Dallas community, particularly in their efforts to reach underserved communities. We admire their outreach and feel a kinship between that and our work to break down barriers that prevent North Texans from experiencing and enjoying classical music. With support like this from Texas Capital Bank, we can continue to produce concerts of the highest caliber that are free for all to attend.”
For the 2018 Festival, FACP will produce FIVE FREE CONCERTS. Every program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm followed by a Feature Performance at 3 pm. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area.
The July 1 Rising Star Recital features student musician Josephine Chiu, piano, joined on stage by the professional musicians of the afternoon’s Feature Performance and Scott Sheffler, bass. They will perform a chamber arrangement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
The Feature Performance musicians, Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello; come together for the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. A Dallas ISD alumnus and former FACP scholarship student, he was a recipient of the Rogene Russell Scholarship Fund (named after FACP’s co-founder) in its inaugural year. He has won numerous awards for his compositions, including the Texas A&M University 2017 Chamber Music Symposium composition contest, the Voices of Change 2016 Texas Young Composers project, and the American Composers Forum 2015 NextNotes High School Competition. Among his recent notable commissions is a horn sonata for David Cooper (principal horn for the Berlin Philharmonic; former principal horn for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), his Symphony No. 3 for the Dallas-based New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and a full-length orchestral work for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in 2019.
The ensemble will also perform selected movements from Antonín Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12, Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet, op. 76 no. 3, “Emperor,” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9.
OVERVIEW: 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival
All concerts are FREE. Families with children are welcome.
Sundays in July: July 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29.
Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm, presenting local, gifted young musicians.
Feature Performance at 3 pm, showcasing professional area musicians.
Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall): 2520 Flora Street, Dallas 75201. Doors open at 2 pm.
2018 Basically Beethoven Festival: July 1, “Eclectet” Presented by Texas Capital Bank
Rising Star Recital: Josephine Chiu, piano, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
Feature Performance: Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello.
World Premiere: String Quartet No. 5 by Quinn Mason.
Program also includes works by Dvorak, Ravel, Haydn, and Beethoven.
The Basically Beethoven Festival is made possible in part by Texas Capital Bank, WFAA Channel 8, DART, Texas Commission on the Arts, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, VisitDallas, and ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents free, monthly Bancroft Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum of Art. Since its inception, FACP has served over 225,000 children and performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.
About Texas Capital Bank Texas Capital Bank, N.A. is a commercial bank that delivers highly personalized financial services to businesses and entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in Texas working with clients throughout the state and across the country. Texas Capital Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ®: TCBI) and is recognized as a Forbes Best Banks in America and the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places To Work company. For more information, visit www.texascapitalbank.com. Member FDIC.
38th annual series spotlights local composers, range of instruments in free concerts
We are thrilled to present the FREE 38th annual Basically Beethoven Festival on Sunday afternoons in July. For 2018, FACP will produce FIVE FREE CONCERTS. Held in the Dallas Arts District at Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall), every program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm followed by a Feature Performance at 3 pm. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area. All concerts are FREE TO THE PUBLIC. Paid parking is available in surface lots and garages in the Dallas Arts District. Families with children are welcome.
“For 2018, I wanted to highlight masterpieces from the past and the present across a variety of instrumentations and settings,” explains Basically Beethoven Festival Director Dr. Alex McDonald. Indeed, that has been accomplished with the five concerts anchored by a string quartet on July 1, a flute trio on July 8, pianos and percussion on July 15, a horn ensemble on July 22, and an operatic bass closing the Festival on July 29.
“Classical music not only has a vibrant tradition—it also has an exciting future! That is why we are using several of the concerts to showcase gifted, young composers from across the metroplex,” McDonald added. “Something I’m particularly excited about this year is our Rising Stars, who represent part of the future of classical music. In the past, we have always used a young soloist with an adult accompanist, but this year we are presenting collaborative duos: two young artists performing together. Some of our performers are only 14 years old and have already played all over the world!”
July 1, Eclectet
Rising Star Recital: Student musician Josephine Chiu, piano, will be joined on stage by the professional musicians of the afternoon’s Feature Performance (below) and Scott Sheffler, bass. They will perform a chamber arrangement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
Feature Performance: Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello, come together to perform works by Dvorak, Ravel, Haydn, Beethoven and local composer Quinn Mason. Mason was raised in Dallas, is a Dallas ISD graduate, and a former FACP scholarship student. He has won numerous awards for his compositions, and he was a recipient of the Rogene Russell Scholarship Fund in its inaugural year.
July 8, Diversions & Escapes
Rising Star Recital: Shiv Yajnik is recognized for his accomplishments as a pianist and as a composer during this Rising Star Recital. He will perform Liszt’s “St. Francis walking on the Waves,” and his own piano trio, “Ondine.” For his comopsition, he will be joined onstage by professional musicians Jen Chang Betz, violin, and Joseph Kuipers, cello.
Feature Performance: A piano trio composed of Shauna Thompson, flute; Deborah Brooks, cello; and Shields-Collins Bray, piano, will present Martinů‘s Trio for flute, cello and piano; and selections of Haydn‘s Piano Trio in G Major. Ms. Thompson and Mr. Bray will partner on local composer Martin Blessinger‘s pieces “Diversion I” and “Escapes.” They will also perform Chant de Linos by Jolivet. The afternoon also includes Ms. Brooks and Mr. Bray performing Beethoven‘s Cello Sonata No. 1 in F Major.
July 15, Pianos & Percussion
Rising Star Recital: Matthew Ho, violin, and Claire Chiang, piano, will perform works by Beethoven, Ravel, and more.
Feature Performance: Catharine Lysinger, piano, and Alex McDonald, piano, present Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos. They will be joined by percussionists Dan Florio and Brian Jones on Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.
July 22, Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse
Rising Star Recital: William Sprinkle, oboe, and Eduardo Rojas, piano, will perform the second movement (“Largo”) from Beethoven’s Oboe Concerto, Hess 12; and his “Adelaïde”, op. 46.
Feature Performance: French horn ensemble Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse have captivated audiences with their musicianship and joviality. Members include local musician Gerry Wood, with Paul Blackstone, Brian Brown, and Audrey Good. The ensemble will present opera transcriptions.
July 29, Art Song
Rising Star Recital: Local composer Jason Mulligan will be the featured Rising Star as a composer. Alex McDonald will perform selections from Mulligan’s piano preludes, he will premiere a Mulligan piece, and he will accompany soprano Alissa Roca for Mulligan’s “In the Looking Glass.”
Feature Performance: Operatic bass Jared Schwartz with The Dallas Opera’s Music Director of Education Mary Dibbern, piano, performs an afternoon of art song, including works by Flégier, Fauré, and Liszt.
The Basically Beethoven Festival is made possible in part by VisitDallas, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, Texas Commission on the Arts, WFAA Channel 8, DART, Dallas Arts District Foundation, and ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents free, monthly Bancroft Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum of Art. Since its inception, FACP has served over 225,000 children and performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.