The Juilliard School
(Juilliard Orchestra Web Page)
Nicholas McGegan, Conductor
Daniel James, Flute
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
155 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
Media Relations: Gloria Gottschalk
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 28, 2013
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): An American Overture
Jacques Ibert (1890-1962): Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 37.
Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Variations on an Original Theme, Enigma, Op. 36.
The Sharp Theater was packed with Juilliard fans tonight, all anticipating this fine orchestral program. Nicholas McGegan, tonight’s Guest Conductor, has conducted orchestras for over 30 years. He has been Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for 27 years and was Artistic Director of the International Handel festival Göttingen for 20 years. He’s British-born, educated at Cambridge and Oxford. Daniel James, Guest Flutist, has performed around the globe, as well as in his native Wisconsin. Mr. James received his bachelor’s degree in music from Juilliard, where he is completing his master’s degree in music. He’s a longtime member of the New Juilliard Ensemble.
The Benjamin Britten An American Overture has a filmatic theme, mysterious and grand. It opens with captivating cello pizzicato and soon becomes windy, in the midst of soft percussion. One immediately sees the ebullience of Maestro McGegan, as he bends and swings along with the music, abandoning baton for expressive hand gestures. He seemed to relate to the youthful musicians with warmth and vibrancy. As the piece builds in volume, bells chime. The Jacques Ibert Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 37 brought out the tall and confident Daniel James and his glistening flute. The “Allegro” was romantic in motif, opening with luscious solo and orchestral flutes, joined by fervid strings. The “Andante”, with a mysterious flute introduction, included the Concertmaster, Laura Ha, playing a languorous violin solo, along with Mr. James’ contrasting flute solo. This movement was especially elegant and inviting. The “Allegro scherzando” brought out repetitive refrains in rapid strings. The flute solo took on a canary-like flutter, quite intriguing. Soon the work became edgy, mellifluous, and brisk. It was apparent, on conclusion, that these Juilliard instrumentalists possess poise, reverence, and professionalism.
The Edward Elgar Variations on an Original Theme, “Enigma”, Op. 36 was performed with audible differentiations and stylings in each of the 14 Variations of the original “Enigma” theme. It’s noted in the program that Elgar had said that “The enigma…it’s ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, …the apparent connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture…”. How the Juilliard Orchestra recalled each of those “connections of slightest texture” is quite impressive. I attempted, myself, to follow them, with the program, one by one, but a few were seamlessly sequential, as they progressed. The theme began in mournful, quiet tones, building shifts in volume and intensity. Soon feverish violins followed equally feverish violas. Bassoons, clarinets, oboes, and flutes were joined by brass in stormy passages. Then a compelling balletic rhythm ensued, merging into strings and timpani caught in a foreboding interlude. The Orchestra’s percussive ensemble took over, seemingly ending one Variation in a flash. Then, lyrical, sweeping, majestic motifs emerged, before tip-toeing flutes, then bassoons, then strings led a playful melody. Heralding horns preceded sharp, striking strings. A melancholy cello solo added ethereal qualities to the experience, before a piercing, regal finale, with cymbals and brass. Kudos to all. .
Nicholas McGegan, Music Director,
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra,
Conducts the Juilliard Orchestra
Courtesy of Steve Sherman