Avalare Strings

img_0064Philadelphia’s got a string quartet that rocks!

With style and energy, Avalare performs timeless Classical works, Latin and Celtic folk, as well as electrifying rock hits of yesterday and today.

Diana Vuolo, Violin
Diana was awarded a full tuition scholarship to attend the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance. At PCPA she studied with the famed teacher, Dorothy DeLay. She was also a regular performer for the DeLay master classes at the Aspen Music School. She has had a variety of performing experiences, including a concert tour of Germany with the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Philly Pops Orchestra, and was Assistant Concertmaster for the International Lyric Festival Opera Orchestra in Italy. She also served as a substitute for the Saint Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin.

Valerie Vuolo, Violin
Valerie began her studies at the age of five under the tutelage of her mother, Diana Vuolo. After high school she continued her studies at the Hartt School of Music with violinist Emlyn Ngai. She has performed in master classes by Pamela Frank, the Miami String Quartet, Anton Miller, and Felicia Muy. During her studies at the Hartt School, Valerie was the recipient of several generous awards including the Louis T. Carabillo Scholarship for Violinists. She graduated with honors from the Hartt School in 2007 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance. Valerie has performed extensively in solo recitals, and has collaborated with the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Boy’s Choir, the Savoy Opera Company, and recording artist Ashton Allen (Livewire).

Greg Lipscomb, Viola and Baritone
Greg holds a Masters degree from The Peabody Institute of Music where he was a recipient of the George Castelle Award. His latest album, “Living My Life,” which features him as a violist, singer, songwriter and arranger, has been played on radio stations throughout Costa Rica and on XPN in the Philadelphia area. As an orchestral violist he has performed with such artists as Patti La Belle and Smokey Robinson. As a vocal soloist he has performed in France and Switzerland under the baton of Mislav Rostropovich, in Japan under Yutaka Sado. Greg currently plays viola in the Greater Trenton Symphony and is Instrumental Music Director at the Solebury School in New Hope, PA. Additionally, he writes many of the musical arrangements Avalare performs.

Brooke Beazley-Cyzewski, Cello
Brooke received a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance from North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduating , she joined the North Carolina Symphony. Upon meeting her future husband, she relocated to Philadelphia where she is currently a member of the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Philly Pops. She performs throughout the Delaware Valley with a number of ensembles including Orchestra 2001, the Delaware Symphony, Ocean City Pops, and the Philadelphia Classical Symphony. Brooke frequently plays in Atlantic City for Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, and other top name performers.

Many in One: Heidi Jacob

When considering the possibilities for writing a string orchestra piece I was immediately struck by the homogeneous nature of the medium as well as the lush, lyrical possibilities of the great romantic string orchestra works by Dvorák, Elgar,Tchaikovsky and Samuel Barber. However, I also wanted to explore the rich contrasts of color and orchestration in works such as Bartok’s Divertimento.

This work is a dialogue between solitary and collective identities.  Structurally the work is palindromic, beginning with a solo violin that makes it way to the fulcrum of the work, a fugue that commences in the second violins.  At various points, unison rhythmic gestures break apart to become contrapuntal. The use of solo instruments in the work is meant to reflect historically, going back to the concerto grosso of the Baroque era.

The title of the work, Many in One, is from Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name from his Leaves of Grass. The question of the private, isolated versus cooperative and communal in America that Whitman speaks to in this poem has resonance today, going beyond our country, and the struggles the world continues to face.

from Many in One

Leaves of Grass 1856
Walt Whitman


Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, nature,
governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive
other lessons,
Underneath all to me is myself—to you, your-
If all had not kernels for you and me, what were
it to you and me?


I match my spirit against yours, your orbs, growths,
mountains, brutes,
I will learn why the earth is gross, tantalizing,
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude

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Pentaprism: Cynthia Folio

Cynthia Folio: Pentaprism is based on a five-note motive. The title is derived from a five-sided prism, found in many cameras, that transforms a beam of light by 90 degrees. Throughout the piece the motive is altered as if heard through a prism. The initial appearance of the motive (G-Ab-G-Eb-C)—a simple major seventh chord—is revealed one note at a time over a span of twelve measures. The piece ends by reversing the process, by “erasing” the motive one note at a time until only the first note remains. The form is a kind of arch with a climax before the coda, where the major seventh chord is expressed in an unabashedly diatonic context.

The principal players in each section are featured as soloists for two reasons: first, this mimics the idea of contrast between solo and ensemble that is embodied in the Mozart concerto; second, the pairing of professional musicians with students allows a degree of virtuosity for the more seasoned performers.

W.A. Mozart, Symphony K. 16

K. 16 in E flat Major is probably Mozart’s very first symphony. The Mozart family’s first grand tour of Europe, begun in June of 1763 (Wolfgang age 6) took them to Munich, Mannheim, Mainz, Koblenz, Brussels, Paris, and eventually London, where they spent some 15 months.  Wolfgang and sister Nannerl were both prodigies, and their father Leopold took every opportunity to have them perform for nobility and royalty.  It was especially the younger Woflgang who amazed all audiences with his ability to improvise.

In London, the family became friends with Johann Christian Bach (1735-82), a son of J.S. Bach and without question one of the finest composers of the day.  Many scholars have found the influence of J.C. Bach (“the London Bach”) in Wolfgang’s earliest works.

Some years after Wolfgang’s death in 1791, his sister Nannerl recalled the following about the origins of what we believe to be his first symphony, K. 16.

“On the fifth of August {we} had to rent a country home in
Chelsea, outside the city of London, so that father could
recover from a dangerous throat ailment, which brought him
almost to death’s door. {…}  Our father lay dangerously ill;
we were forbidden to touch the keyboard.  And so, in order
to occupy himself, Mozart composed his first symphony….”
(Translation from Neal Zaslaw’s exhaustive and marvelous
“Mozart’s Symphonies” of 1989).

Nannerl goes on to say that the work included trumpets and kettledrums, though K. 16, at least in Wolfgang’s surviving manuscript score, does not. It was not unusual, however, for trumpets and timpani to be considered optional, notated separately, and added to the orchestra if one desired.

The inscription on the autograph manuscript score of the complete symphony is as follows: “Sinfonia di Sig: Wolfgang Mozart a London 1764.”  Mozart was 8 years old.  The manuscript is written in his own hand, though it appears that Leopold made a few minor corrections, especially in the first movement. The inscription is probably in Leopold’s hand.

A facsimile of the autograph manuscript is printed in the Neue Mozart Ausgabe’s edition of the work.  Even the manuscript demonstrates the incredibly precocious nature of this child.  I will try to remember to leave that facsimile on my stand at the end of our performance of the piece.

Aspects of Style and Mozart’s Symphony, K. 16

In 1764, the eight-year old Mozart would have directed the first performances of K. 16 from the harpsichord.  There would have been no “conductor” in the modern sense, and the foundation for the entire ensemble would have been provided by the composer and harpsichord, doubling and expanding on the written bass line. There was nothing in the composer’s score to indicate this kind of arrangement; it was simply assumed to be a part of performance practice at the time.  Though they are also not indicated in Mozart’s autograph score (which lists the standard orchestration of the time: 2 oboes, 2 horns, violins I and II, violas, and “violoncello e basso”), one or two bassoons and even trumpets and timpani may have been added to the orchestra at the composer’s discretion.  The general assumption was that the score and written out parts provided a basic representation of the piece but that a certain freedom in using them was to be understood.

Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS is not a “period instrument” or “early music” ensemble. Our oboes and horns are modern instruments, our bows and strings are modern, we do not use a continuo harpsichord, we do use a conductor, and our soloist in K.271 plays a nine-foot Steinway or Bösendorfer grand, not a fortepiano.  We are not attempting to replicate exactly what Mozart’s music sounded like to 18th-century audiences.  That is really not possible. But we are acutely conscious of the fact that this is music from a much different era than our own, and that many aspects of performance practice were vastly different from what might be called 21st-century performance practice.  One example is that “vibrato” for string players was then thought of as a special kind of expressive gesture, to be used where a passage might reflect pathos or intensity, rather than today’s customary use of it as a pervasive feature of normal playing. FIRST EDITIONS performances attempt to take into account such differences while being based on the realization that we are a 21st-century orchestra, playing for 21st-century audiences, in venues and circumstances that bear little resemblance to those of the 18th century.

One of the most striking differences between the two eras is related to the attitude and perspective of the audiences. Throughout the 18th century, people clearly wanted and expected to hear NEW, not OLD, music.  This was the reason that Haydn wrote over 100 symphonies and Mozart over 50.  Why would anyone want to hear what Haydn, Mozart, and scores of other composers wrote last year?  Let’s hear instead their latest compositions, the new music of our time. And composers then obliged their audiences (whether at courts or in cities) with symphonies after symphonies.

The symphony in 1764 was generally considered a work of minor significance, something that might begin a concert like an overture (the genre from which it was derived).  And the “galant style” of the time was characterized by simplicity, elegance, gracefulness, and charm, rather than profundity and deep emotion. When we perform and listen to K. 16, we need to keep in mind that the work is from a musical tradition far different from that of later centuries. It was really not until Beethoven that the symphony would acquire paramount importance as a genre (thus he would write only nine), though the great acclaim that Haydn received in London in the 1790s (and later elsewhere) for the symphonies he wrote for that city was probably the single most important step toward the public’s new appreciation of the symphony as an especially important part of a composer’s oeuvre.

Remarkable changes, however,  were already taking place in European music in the eleven years between K. 16 (1764) and K. 271 (1777).  It was not just that Mozart was eleven years older and more mature that accounts for the great differences between the two pieces. In our discussions during Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS February concerts, we will talk about some of these differences, as well as the new compositional challenges and stylistic ideas with which young Mozart on his own was beginning to experiment.

“Mozart’s Eroica,” and a 225-year-old mystery finally solved!

It was Alfred Einstein in his 1944 “Mozart: His Character, His Work” who first described K. 271 as Mozart’s “Eroica.” “This concerto,” said Einstein, “is one of Mozart’s monumental works, those works in which he is entirely himself, seeking not to ingratiate himself with his public but rather to win them through originality and boldness.  He never surpassed it.” Like so many other Mozart biographers, Einstein called the piece “the Jeunehomme Concerto.”

The Mystery Solved!

About K.271 there has long been a mystery.  Who was this Mlle. Jeunehomme for whom Mozart purportedly wrote the work, and who – judging especially from the last movement of K. 271 – must have been a terrific pianist? Despite having no idea of who she was, scholars, biographers, and program note writers have been calling the piece “the Jeunehomme Concerto” for almost a century.

It was actually Mozart’s 1912 French biographers Théodore Wyzewa and Georges de Saint-Foix who decided that “die Jenomy,” (for whom Mozart said in a letter to his father Leopold that he wrote the piece), must have been some unknown woman named “Jeunehomme,” and that Mozart simply had attempted to provide his own idea of a phonetic spelling of a French name.  No one seems ever to have noted that Mozart had spent time in France, knew the language, and that no scholar could ever find any evidence that such a Mlle. Jeunehomme ever existed. Still, it was what we all continued to call the piece.

In 2003 a Viennese musicologist named Michael Lorenz discovered the true identity of “die Jenomy.”  That was in fact her name! She was the daughter of a dancer employed at the court in Vienna and a friend of the Mozart family. Louise Victoire Noverre, born 1749 in Strasbourg, had come to Vienna with her father in 1767.  In 1768 she had married a wealthy merchant named Joseph Jenomy.  During a trip in 1776 or early 1777 from Vienna to Paris, she stopped by Salzburg, and Mozart encountered her there.  In 1778 Mozart again met “die Jenomy” in Paris where her father was now employed.  Michael Lorenz believes the beautiful minuet that suddenly emerges seemingly from nowhere in the middle of the last movement of K. 271, may even be an allusion to her father, the dancer.
As to Jenomy’s pianistic skills, we know that in 1773 she played a benefit concert for her father, as reported in the “Realzeitung,” and was praised for her “artistry and ease.”

The concerto is, as Einstein says, a remarkable “break through” for Mozart as composer. “It is surprising and unique among Mozart’s works.  Nothing in the products of the year 1776 leads us to expect it.”  All three movements contain extraordinary elements, though it is the middle movement that is perhaps most astonishing – an Andantino that seems to evoke operatic tragedy with a depth and maturity that Mozart had never before brought to life.  When he played his own concertos, Mozart usually improvised the cadenzas.  In the case of this concerto, however, he wrote out the improvisatory passages for “die Jenomy,” and they are almost as remarkable – for the time and for this composer – as is the piece as a whole.

Many belated thanks, Frau Jenomy, for this miraculous masterpiece which we now can call with your name: the “Jenomy Concerto.”

Bob Beach Trio


bob_beach_trioA unique teaming of musicians has created a singular sound. The music of The Bob Beach Trio is rooted in the double bass and assorted percussion instruments of Dave and Angie Nelson. To complete this sound Bob Beach adds vocals, harmonica and flute. The sound created by this trio highlights the essentials of each song. Teaming two classically trained musicians with a self taught “folk” musician has accomplished an excellent combination of rhythm and feel. The Bob Beach Trio is:

Dave Nelson
A native of the Philadelphia area, David Nelson was born in Bucks County Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He attended Temple University for his Undergraduate and Masters degrees in Percussion Performance and now resides outside of Philadelphia. David has made a career of free-lance percussion and timpani work both in the Philadelphia area and around the world.

Angie Nelson
Angela Zator Nelson was appointed as Section Percussionist and Associate Principal Timpanist to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999. A native of the Chicago area, she graduated from the Northwestern University School of Music. She then continued her education in Philadelphia at Temple University where her principal instructor was Alan Abel of the Philadelphia Orchestra, whom she later replaced. Angela graduated in 2001 with her Masters degree in Music Performance.

Bob Beach
Bob Beach has been singing and playing harmonica and flute professionally for more than 30 years. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Bob relocated to Western PA after high school. From 1976 to 1997 Bob worked in bands and other musical projects based in the city of Pittsburgh. While there Bob was a mainstay of the blues, rock and country scenes. In 1997 Bob came back to Philadelphia and has continued performing and recording. He has supported a number of local and touring musicians, both live and in the studio.

James Freeman, Artistic Director

James Freeman

James Freeman is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the new Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS.  He recently retired, after 27 years, as the  Artistic Director and Conductor of Orchestra 2001, Philadelphia’s award-winning ensemble for 20th and 21st-century music, which he founded in 1988.  He is also Daniel Underhill Emeritus Professor Music at Swarthmore College.  He was trained at Harvard University, Tanglewood, and Vienna’s Akademie für Musik.  He counts among his principal mentors pianist Artur Balsam and his father, double bassist Henry Freeman, former principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the spring of 2016 Mr. Freeman inaugurated a series of interactive concerts, Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS, dealing with new commissioned works by area composers combined with a musical exploration of how Mozart’s earliest works led gradually to the masterpieces of his later years.

In 1990 James Freeman was given the Philadelphia Music Foundation’s first award for Achievement in Classical Music; and in 2008, in recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter’s office honored him with the city’s Liberty Bell Award.  In May 2015,  the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society recognized him as its honoree of the year. Other honors include fellowships from NEA, NEH, the German Government, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Harvard University’s Paine Travelling Fellowship, and two Fulbright Fellowships.  He spent the spring of 1991 as a Fulbright Scholar, guest conductor, and lecturer on American music at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1993, 1994, 1997 and most recently in December 2014, he returned to Moscow with members of Orchestra 2001 to give concerts of contemporary American music.  Through these concerts Mr. Freeman has established long-standing artistic relations with the musicians of the Moscow Conservatory and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, resulting in a continuing series of collaborative projects.

Mr. Freeman has recorded for Nonesuch, Columbia, Turnabout, Acoustic Research, CRI, MMC, Albany, Centaur, Innova, and Bridge Records.  He conducted  Orchestra 2001 in that ensemble’s 18 commercial CDs, all of music by American composers. Mr. Freeman’s premiere performances and recordings with Orchestra 2001 of the seven volumes of George Crumb’s monumental “American Songbook” series have continued and expanded upon his long relationship with Crumb’s music, begun in 1974 with the premiere performances and recording (for Nonesuch) of that composer’s  “Music for a Summer Evening.”  In a now legendary concert at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1976, he was the double bass player in
Crumb’s “Madrigals,” the sitar player in “Lux Aeterna” (both of these works with renowned mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani), and one of the two pianists (with Gilbert Kalish) in “Music for a Summer Evening.”

As a double bassist, Mr. Freeman performed for 20 summers as a member of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and continues to play with the Opera Philadelphia  Orchestra.  In the past few years, Mr. Freeman’s guest conducting assignments and performances as a pianist have taken him to the Salzburg Festival, Ljubljana (the National Symphony of Slovenia), Taipei (the National Symphony of Taiwan), Bari (Italy), the Colorado Music Festival, the University of British Columbia, the Syracuse Society for New Music, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Copenhagen, Havana, America’s southwest, and the Huddersfield International Contemporary Music Festival.