A Simple Prayer

“A Simple Prayer” was composed in the winter of 2017 in New York. It was composed with an idea in mind, which is that in spite of our differences we are, as my dear friend Maya Angelou would say, “more alike than unalike.“ This work is a plea and prayer for unity. It is a prayer without words, and it is especially pertinent today at a time when there seems to be so much divisiveness, hate and polarity within our country.

For several months in 2017 I had been focused on what is wrong with our country that the fire of divisiveness could be fanned so nonchalantly and carelessly.  A wise yogi once said that we only get into trouble when we forget who we are. I ultimately came back to the fact that we all belong to the same human family which is the human race. It is upon that belief and with that thought in mind that “A Simple Prayer” was written.  –Richard Danielpour

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Mozart’s Rondo in D for Piano and Orchestra, K. 382

Mozart wrote the Rondo in D (more a set of variations than a true rondo)  shortly after arriving in Vienna in 1782, following his bitter departure from his family in Salzburg,  He used it immediately as a replacement for the original final movement of his Concerto in D, K. 175, written nine years earlier in 1773. We can only guess why he did this.  Possibly he was anxious to charm his new audiences with a finale that was more straight froward and less “learned” than the somewhat contrapuntal original finale of K. 175.   Combined with the first two movements of K. 175 and also as an independent piece, he played it often in Vienna and elsewhere, and it quickly became one of his most popular pieces.  It was in fact one of the very few works that was published during his lifetime.

The K. 175 concerto  – for which Mozart apparently wrote the Rondo  K. 382 – is now usually numbered as his 5th piano concerto.  It was actually his first original piano concerto. Nos. 1-4 are all arrangements of pieces for solo keyboard by other composers, probably intended as preliminary exercises in the art of writing concertos, and very likely under his father’s watchful eye.  The fact that this concerto written at age 17, combined with the K. 382 Rondo, became one Mozart’s most well known and admired works during his lifetime is yet another reminder of the remarkable genius that lies behind so many of his early works – works that like K. 382 and 386 are now rarely performed.
–James Freeman

Mozart’s Rondo in A for Piano and Orchestra, K. 386

The Rondo In A, K. 386, like K. 382, is one of Mozart’s early gems that is rarely heard.  It may be a replacement for the finale of another concerto (in this case, K. 414, performed in October by COFE with soloist Andrew Hauze).  It might also be the  original version of K. 414’s finale. Or it may always have been intended as a completely independent piece, unrelated to K. 414 or any other concerto.

Until more evidence is uncovered, we can only guess as to its true origins.

If the origins and intent of K. 386 are obscure, the autograph manuscript and its history are even more bizarre, complex, and fascinating.  The manuscript was sold in 1799 by Mozart’s widow Constanza to the music publisher J.A. Andre, but with the end of the piece missing.  Somehow, still without an ending, it found its way to London in the 1830s, where it was auctioned off page by page (some pages even ripped in half) to many different people.  A reduction of the piece, for solo piano, however, had been made by the Englishman CiprianI Potter (1792-1871), with his own ending.  It was in this form that the piece was known for some 150 years.

During the last 60 years, scholars have discovered various pages and parts (but unfortunately not all) of Mozart’s manuscript in various places.  And in 1980 the English scholar Alan Tyson discovered the ending!  With the ending found but a few other parts of the piece still missing, Tyson, the Australian conductor Charles Mackerras, and the Viennese pianist Paul Badura-Skoda (one of my own pianistic mentors) collaborated on publishing a performing edition of the piece.  It comprises more than 90% of Mozart’s original music, and it includes Mozart’s own ending! Our performance of K. 386 this evening is based on this edition.  –James Freeman

Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, K. 365

Frustrated and feeling isolated in Salzburg, Mozart (now age 21) set out in 1777 with his mother to Mannheim, Paris, and Munich in the hope of finding for himself a more significant court position. It was a devastatingly unhappy trip. Not only was he turned down at all three courts, but his mother died unexpectedly while they were in Paris. Disappointed and still grieving, he returned to Salzburg early in 1779, resigning himself at least for the time being to his position there as court organist. Soon thereafter, he wrote the Two-Piano Concerto, presumably for himself and his sister Nannerl.

Though there are certainly moments of darkness in all three movements, the piece overall is an expression of great joy, delight in the possibilities of pianistic virtuosity, and exuberance. As with so many other composers, sad times do not necessarily produce sad music!

The two solo parts are absolutely equal, sharing the dialogue between them in countless different ways, and placing the orchestra more as accompaniment than in Mozart’s concertos for solo piano.

The equality of the two solo parts surely demonstrates that Nannerl must have been every bit as virtuosic a pianist as her brother. Later in Vienna, Mozart played the piece several times with one of his students, Josepha Barbara Auernhammer. It was with her in mind, too, that he later wrote the Two-Piano Sonata in D, K. 448, perhaps as a companion piece to K. 365. When we consider the list of people for whom Mozart wrote piano concertos – Countess Antonia Lodron and her daughters Aloisia and Josepha (the Concerto for Three Pianos, K. 242); Louise Jenomy (K. 271); Barbara Ployer (K. 449 and 453); Maria Theresia Paradies (K. 456) – it is clear that both Salzburg and Vienna could boast of any number of first-rate women pianists.
–James Freeman

Capriccio

Throughout musical history the title Capriccio has been used for an exceptionally wide variety of pieces that are in fact types of dances, fugues, improvisations, fantasias, and cadenzas. The most common denominator among these is a preference for a free flow of ideas over formalistic thought. As early as the seventeenth century Praetorius wrote that in a capriccio “one takes a mood but deserts it for another whenever it comes to his mind to do so. One can add, take away, digress, turn and direct the music as one wishes…” This description has much in common with the process that occurred in composing Capriccio. Once the opening measures were decided, I had no idea of what the piece would become, only how long it would be since the commission was for a short work of five to 8 minutes duration. In retrospect, the resulting piece takes two or three ideas and explores them in ways that are questioning, playful, intense, mysterious, sad, laughing, gentle, and triumphant, until they eventually all disappear at the end.

Capriccio was commissioned by Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS, James Freeman conductor. The first performances took place on February 17 & 18, 2018, at Haverford College and Trinity Center for Urban Life respectively.

–Jan Krzywicki

Barney Frank’s Philly jazz show gets a thumbs-up on the hep-cat meter

October 8, 2017
by David Patrick Stearns, Music Critic
Philadelphia Inquirer
Full Article

Photo: Sharon Torello

The coincidence couldn’t have been planned.

Outfest 2017 was throbbing away on 12th Street on Sunday afternoon while retired Congressman Barney Frank, whose work helped bring public LGBT activities into the mainstream, was a few blocks away at the Kimmel Center, having been tapped as an unconventional narrator for an offbeat piece of jazz/orchestra music, Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz.

The occasion was a concert by Chamber Orchestra First Editions, whose mission is both modern music and early Mozart, cheek by jowl, founded and directed by James Freeman. Both Freeman and Frank were classmates at Harvard, and while looking for a narrator for Schuller, Freeman speculated that Frank might have the time available after retiring from about four decades of public life in the Democratic Party. And there he was on the Perelman Theater stage for the third in a series of Philadelphia-area concerts.

The Sunday performance was a success. Schuller’s piece tells the story of a misfit kid trumpeter who evolves into a jazz Jedi, accompanied by a symphonic jazz panorama that felt so fresh you’d never guess the piece was written in 1962. The piece benefited by the gravel that Frank’s voice has acquired over the years, and his bluff, no-nonsense manner plus regional accent (New Jersey) assured that the story would never lapse into sentimentality.

But, at age 77, does Frank have a new career path? Nah. Though he seems perfectly at home in front of an audience, he isn’t a performer, but a get-down-to-business guy who probably is not about to master a more artificial style of presentation. And would we want him to? He is who he is, and has basically lived the message of Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz, which is “be yourself.”

As a companion piece to Schuller, Gabriel Globus-Hoenich’s Shattered Stones, a work for jazz quintet and string orchestra commissioned for the concert, arrives in an era when jazz-symphonic synthesis is no longer rocket science. This piece favored the jazz quintet over the orchestra — fine! — and succeeded as much on the charisma of the performers as the music itself.

Mozart would seem to be an incongruous presence here, but was wisely positioned at the top of the concert (Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 414) and at the end (Symphony No. 29 K. 201). The concerto went well enough with Swarthmore faculty member Andrew Hauze and First Editions associate conductor Heidi Jacob, though Hauze’s piano technique isn’t refined enough to make every note count in Mozart. Also, the middle movement’s unusually slow tempo enlarged the expressive playing field in ways the performers didn’t justify.

The symphony was quite a different story. Though his public life has been mainly with modern music, Freeman is hugely passionate about Mozart in general and this symphony in particular, projecting a ruggedly dramatic point of view and a sound world that’s distinctive to this piece. Whatever his tempo choices, they came off as electric. He also drew from his players a level of playing and exterior polish that I wish the higher-profile Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia could achieve in this repertoire.

PREVIEW: Barney Frank Narrates “Journey Into Jazz” Performances This Weekend in Philadelphia

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Photo: Sharon Torello

WRTI, Susan Luis
Complete Article

Former Congressman Barney Frank will be on stage at Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS concerts in Swarthmore, Haverford, and Center City on October 6, 7, and 8 to narrate a classic 1962 work in the style of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, but with a jazz twist.

Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz explores one boy’s journey from classical music to jazz. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with Frank about his surprising role in this production, and the parallels between music and politics.

Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS kicks off its third season with a program exploring the synthesis of classical music and jazz—called “third stream music”—with performances of Schuller’s 1962 classic Journey into Jazz, and the premiere of a composition for jazz quintet and string orchestra by drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich. Also on the program, early works of W.A. Mozart, including the Piano Concerto No. 12 with pianist Andrew Hauze and Symphony No. 29, written at age 18. A half-hour discussion with Rep. Frank and the musicians will precede each concert. Details here.

From Politics to Music: How Barney Frank was drawn to this role.

In 1936, Prokofiev wrote an orchestral work for narrator and orchestra with musical depictions of fairy tale characters that engaged generations of listeners, including retired Congressman Barney Frank, who served 16 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“One of my favorite pieces when I was .. I don’t know, we’re talking maybe 70 years ago – the narration of Peter and the Wolf …When I was a little boy, I knew what sinister meant, and what happy meant …. It brings back very happy memories for me.”

Barney Frank with WRTI’s Susan Lewis.
Now, another composition, in a similar style, combining narration with music has drawn Frank into a new role. In concerts this weekend by Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS, he narrates Gunther Schuller’s Journey into Jazz. It’s a work for orchestra, jazz quintet, solo trumpet and narrator.

Together, they tell the story of Edwin Jackson, a boy who loves music and learns to play classical trumpet. Then he discovers a group of boys playing jazz in a house down the street. He desperately wants to play with them but has to learn what jazz is.

“This is very much an interactive piece in terms of the musicians relating to each other. I grew up in the ’40s and ’50s, jazz was very much a part of the scene. It’s a story that talks about people interacting and somebody learning.”

In his government career, Frank delivered hundreds of speeches. He says politics and music have common communication goals:

“Whether you’re an artist or a politician, you want to change the world in some way. So part of your job is to take your conception, your idea, your goal, and without sacrificing your integrity, think about, all how do I maximize the chance that this is going to have the impact I want on my audience, and that’s the commonality.”

“But whatever you’re trying to get across, whether it’s a public policy change, a philosophical viewpoint, a view of human nature in a novel, a conception that’s embodied in a musical piece, your job—if you’re really trying to have an impact—is to shape it in a way that will reach an audience.”

Barney Frank began his career in politics as assistant to the Mayor of Boston. In 1980, he was elected to the US House of Representatives. He retired in 2013. He’s written two books, Speaking Frankly in 1992, and his 2015 memoir, Frank: From the Great Society to Same Sex Marriage.

PREVIEW: Coming up in Philly music: Mozart, jazz, and Barney Frank

Broad Street Review, Tom Purdom
Full ArticleCan a long career in the United States Congress prepare you for a narration gig in a jazz piece? Former congressman Barney Frank will be the narrator when Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS presents a modern classic, Gunther Schiller’s 1962 “Journey into Jazz.”

Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS is the latest brainchild of James Freeman, the founding director of Philadelphia’s modern music organization, Orchestra 2001. Every FIRST EDITIONS concert combines modern works with pieces from Mozart’s earlier years. For the kickoff for the group’s third season, Freeman and associate conductor Heidi Jacobs will explore the melding of classical music and jazz. The other modern item on the card will be the premiere of a piece for jazz quintet and string orchestra by drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich. Mozart will contribute his second piano concerto, with pianist Andrew Hauze as soloist, and his Symphony No. 29, which he wrote when he was 18. Frank and the musicians will engage in a half-hour discussion before each performance.

Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS will present Journey from Mozart to Jazz on October 6 at 8pm at Swarthmore College’s Lang Concert Hall; October 7 at 3pm at Haverford College’s Marshall Auditorium; and October 8 at 3pm at the Kimmel’s Perelman Theater. The two college performances are free. Tickets for the Perelman Theater performance are $25 ($20 for seniors and $10 for students) and they’re available online, by calling 215-893-1999, and at the door.

08/14/2017 PREVIEW: Move over Yo-Yo Ma: Barney Frank to front First Editions concert in October

Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns – Full Preview

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., addresses an audience during Harvard Class Day exercises on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The event is part of the school’s commencement ceremonies. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“Who’d have thought that retired congressman Barney Frank and longtime Philadelphia orchestra conductor James Freeman would take a journey into jazz? Together?

Freeman’s Chamber Orchestra First Editions, which is beginning its third season, announced Monday that Frank will narrate the Gunther Schuller piece Journey into Jazz for three performances Oct. 6-8 at venues in and around Philadelphia.

“Having just ended one career,” Frank said in a statement, “I am happy to make my debut in another branch of public performance — although this one probably won’t last 45 years.”

Frank and Freeman are old friends from their years as Harvard University students. Frank was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D., Mass.) from 1981 to 2013. In 1987, he became the first openly gay member of Congress. Freeman had further studies at Tanglewood, and Vienna’s Akademie für Musik, and became professor of music at Swarthmore. He is now professor emeritus.

The piece Frank will narrate, Journey into Jazz, was written by Schuller in 1962, much in the spirit of narrated orchestral works such as Peter and the Wolf, but with music that’s often called “third stream” — an integrated fusion of jazz and classical. Journey into Jazz tells the story of Eddie, a kid who barricades himself in his room, listening to jazz recordings and who eventually joins a group of jazz musicians in a nearby basement.

The program is not out of character for Freeman, who for decades championed a wide range of modern music as conductor/founder of Orchestra 2001. The mandate of First Editions is pairing early Mozart pieces with modern works, which in this concert will also include Gabriel Globus-Hoenich’s newly commissioned work for jazz quintet and a string orchestra. The Mozart works include Piano Concerto No. 12 with soloist Andrew Hauze and Symphony No. 29.

The concerts take place Oct. 6 at Lang Concert Hall in Swarthmore, Oct. 7 at Roberts Hall at Haverford College, and Oct. 8 at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The first two concerts are free. The Kimmel Center concert requires tickets…”