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Concert program for Wooden Fish Ensemble

Friday, February 26, 2021 at 8 pm

Download a copy of the program here.

Wooden Fish Ensemble
Thomas Schultz, piano
Terrie Baune, violin
Ilana Blumberg, violin

Program

Bach / Busoni
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Thomas Schultz, piano

Frederic Rzewski
North American Ballads for piano solo
    Dreadful Memories
    Which Side Are You On?
Thomas Schultz, piano

Erik Satie
Choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes)
Terrie Baune, violin
Thomas Schultz, piano

Hyo-shin Na
The Sway of the Branch II for two violins (2017)
Ilana Blumberg, violin
Terrie Baune, violin

Bach / Busoni
Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr
Thomas Schultz, piano

Frederic Rzewski
North American Ballads
    Down By The Riverside
    Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
Thomas Schultz, piano

Arvo Pärt
Spiegel im Spiegel
Ilana Blumberg, violin
Thomas Schultz, piano

Hyo-shin Na
Weaving Variations (after Victor Jara’s Angelita Huenumán) (World Premiere)
Terrie Baune, violin
Ilana Blumberg, violin

Boudewijn Buckinx
Three Pieces and More (2020) (World Premiere)
Ilana Blumberg, violin
Terrie Baune, violin

About the program

Three Pieces and More (2020) by Boudewijn Buckinx
Written for the Wooden Fish Ensemble, California
After the Wooden Fish Ensemble asked me to write a piece for two violins and I began thinking about the type of piece I would write, two things came to mind. I knew the very fine playing of the two violinists that would play my piece and I knew that also on the program would be the rarely-played Choses vues à gauche et à droite by Erik Satie. I had already paid tribute to Satie and his aesthetics in some of my earlier music. His Trois morceaux en forme de poire, if you remember, contains seven pieces, so my Three Pieces and More consists of six movements, with these titles:
Piece Nr. 1 – “Beforehand”
Piece Nr. 2 – “By the Way”
Piece Nr. 3 – “To Be Continued”

The music resembles Satie’s playful modesty, trying not to attract attention to the composer or the performer. However, at unexpected points, the violinists have to switch to playing with great virtuosity. That is healthy for them, also for the composer and, I’m sure, for the listener, too!

Frederic Rzewski writes of his four North American Ballads “I think of these ‘ballads’ as representing the things I believe in. They were all written around the same time (1978–79), and they are all based on traditional American work and protest songs.” He has compared them to J. S. Bach’s Organ Chorale Preludes, pieces that were written using a well-known hymn or chorale—music whose melody, harmony and text were familiar to the listener—and whose every detail was fashioned out of the elements of that chorale.

Dreadful Memories uses the old hymn tune Precious Memories with new lyrics:
Dreadful memories! How they linger
How they pain my precious soul!
Little children, sick and hungry,
Sick and hungry, weak and cold.
I can’t forget them coal miners’ children
That starved to death for want of milk;
While the coal operators and their wives and their children
Were all dressed in jewels and silk.

Which Side Are You On? was written by Florence Reese in 1931 during a coal miner’s strike in Harlan County, Kentucky, after Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men, looking for Reece’s husband, Sam Reece, terrorized Florence and her children in their home. The melody is from a traditional Baptist hymn, Lay the Lily Low, the words include:
Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?
My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
Till every battle’s won.
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Down By The Riverside was also originally sung as a hymn and became both an anti-war and civil rights anthem during the 1960s and 70s:
Going to lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside,
Ain’t going to study war no more

Sung originally during the 1930s, Rzewski’s music in Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues evokes the din of factory machinery. The words of the song are:
Old man Sargent sitting at the desk
The damned old fool won’t give us a rest.
He’d take the nickels off a dead man’s eyes
To buy Coca-cola and Eskimo Pies.
I got the blues, I got the blues, I got the Winnsboro Cotton Mill blues…
When I die, don’t bury me at all
Just hang me up on the spool-room wall.
Place a knotter in my hand
So I can spool in the promised land.
When I die, don’t bury me deep
Bury me down on Six Hundred Street.
Place a bobbin in each hand
So I can work in the promised land.

The Sway of the Branch II for two violins (2017) by Hyo-shin Na
This piece came from a poem by the Chinese poet Su Tung Po.
On A Painting By Wang The Clerk Of Yen Ling by Su Tung Po (1036–1101), translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth.
The slender bamboo is like a hermit.
The simple flower is like a maiden.
The sparrow tilts on the branch.
A gust of rain sprinkles the flowers.
He spreads his wings to fly
And shakes all the leaves.
The bees gathering honey
Are trapped in the nectar.
What a wonderful talent
That can create an entire spring
With a brush and a sheet of paper.
If he would try poetry
I know he would be a master of words.

Weaving Variations (after Victor Jara’s Angelita Huenumán) for two violins (2020) by Hyo-shin Na
The title and pitch materials for this piece come from Victor Jara’s song Angelita Huenumán.
In the valley of Pocuno
Where the sea wind blows strong
Where the rain brings the moss
lives Angelita Huenumán.
Among oak trees and reeds,
hazel woods and gorse,
in the aroma of wild fuchsias
lives Angelita Huenumán.
Guarded by five dogs
and a son whom love left there,
simple as her little farm
the world revolves around her.
The red blood of the copihue
runs through her Huenumán veins
by the light of a window
Angelita weaves her life.
Her hands dance among the threads
like the little wings of the chincol,
it’s a miracle how she weaves a flower,
giving it its aroma, too.
On your looms, Angelita,
are time, tears, and sweat
there are the forgotten hands
of this, my creative people.
After months of working
the woven cloth seeks a buyer
and like a caged bird
it sings for the highest bidder.
Among oak trees and reeds,
hazel woods and gorse,
in the aroma of wild fuchsias
lives Angelita Huenumán.

About the artists

Thomas Schultz has established an international reputation both as an interpreter of music from the classical tradition – particularly Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt – and as one of the leading exponents of the music of our time. Among his recent engagements are solo recitals in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris, Ghent, Seoul, Taipei and Kyoto, and at the Schoenberg Festival in Vienna, the Piano Spheres series in Los Angeles, Korea’s Tongyoung Festival, the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento and the April in Santa Cruz Festival. From 2004 to 2011 he gave a series of six recitals at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, playing repertoire ranging from major works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Chopin to rarely heard music by Schoenberg, Rzewski, Cage and Na. He has also given recitals in New York at Bargemusic and the Goethe Institute. He has appeared as a soloist at the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, and in chamber music performances with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Da Camera Society of Houston, Robert Craft’s 20thCentury Classics Ensemble and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. In 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2017 he gave masterclasses on the piano music of the Second Viennese School at the Schoenberg Center in Vienna and in 2016 gave performances of the complete solo works of Schoenberg in Vienna, San Francisco, Seoul and Taegu, Korea. Beginning in the summer of 2018, he is giving an annual series of masterclasses for young artists at Stanford University.

His recitals are notable for programming that celebrates the continuing vitality of the piano repertoire, juxtaposing the old and the new. He has worked closely with such eminent composers as Cage, Feldman, Wolff, Rzewski, Earle Brown, Jonathan Harvey, Hyo-shin Na and Elliott Carter (in performances of the Double Concerto at the Colorado Music Festival and at Alice Tully Hall in New York). Since 2002, Schultz has included in his recitals works written especially for him by Frederic Rzewski (The Babble, 2003), Christian Wolff (Touch, 2002; Long Piano, 2005), Hyo-shin Na (Rain Study, 1999; Walking, Walking, 2003; Sea Wind, 2010), Walter Zimmermann (AIMIDE, 2001/02), and Boudewijn Buckinx (The Floating World, 2004; Romancing the World, 2005). In 2012 – John Cage’s centennial year – Schultz was Artistic Director of the John Cage – 100 Years Festival at Stanford University and played recitals dedicated to Cage’s solo piano music at the festival, at Crown Point Press gallery in San Francisco, and at Bargemusic in NYC.

Schultz’s recording of solo works by Cage was released in 2018 on the Mode label and his recording of Christian Wolff’s Long Piano in 2009 by New World Records. Additional solo CDs, (a double cd of the Goldberg Variations of Bach and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, a CD of works written for him by Buckinx and Wolff, a CD of the complete solo works of Schoenberg, and recordings of music by Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Satie and Busoni) are on the Wooden Fish label. His recordings of works by the Korean composer Hyo-shin Na on CDs from the New World, Seoul and TopArt labels have received special recognition. Schultz’s recording of Stravinsky’s Concerto for Two Solo Pianos is on the MusicMasters label and he can be heard in chamber works of Earle Brown on a Newport Classics recording.

Schultz’s musical studies were with John Perry, Leonard Stein and Philip Lillestol. He has been a member of the piano faculty at Stanford University since 1994.

Violinist Terrie Baune is a member of Earplay, a consortium of composers and musicians dedicated to the performance of new chamber music, and co-concertmaster of the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, concertmaster of the North State Symphony, and a former member of the Empyrean Ensemble. Her professional credits include concertmaster positions with the Women’s Philharmonic, Fresno Philharmonic, Santa Cruz County Symphony, and Rohnert Park Symphony. A member of the National Symphony Orchestra for four years, she also spent two years as a member of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra of New Zealand, where she toured and recorded for Radio New Zealand with the Gabrielli Trio and performed with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Ilana Blumberg, violin, was first prize winner in the Khuner Young Artist Concerto Competition’s inaugural competition held in the fall of 1989, and was chosen to perform with the Prometheus Symphony Orchestra in a live concert in 1990. She first played violin at age two, then attended The Crowden School before entering the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Pre-College program. She then obtained a music degree at Oberlin Conservatory.

As Ilana Blumberg Thomas, she has been associate concertmaster with the Albany Symphony Orchestra (NY) and a member of the Springfield Symphony (MA) from 1996-2005. She also played regularly in Broadway stage productions, including the original productions of Aida, The Producers and the revival of The Bells are Ringing. Since returning to the Bay Area, she has been associate concertmaster with the Modesto Symphony and principal second violin for the Napa Valley and Merced Symphonies. Bay Area chamber music groups she is a member of include Golden Gate String Quartet, eco ensemble and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.

Boudewijn Buckinx (b. Lommel, Belgium, 28 March 1945) was dedicated to music from an early age. Since 1963, he introduced a lot of new music to Flanders with his group WHAM (dutch acronym for Working Group for Contemporary and Topical Music), including music by Christian Wolff, Cornelius Cardew and John Cage. Cage was also the subject of his licenciate’s thesis [musicology] in 1972.

As a composer, he is a typical exponent of Postmodernism (1001 Sonates for violin and piano, 9 Unfinished Symphonies). The series of 1001 Sonates in their totality were performed in Darmstadt (1988), Brussels (1989), Ghent (1994) and Kiel (1998). Special Buckinx concerts have been held in Ghent, Brussels and Kiel, and his music has also been performed at important festivals such as the Contemporary Music Week in Ghent, the “Ferienkurse” in Darmstadt, the Tampere Biennale and the North American New Music Festival in Buffalo, Bucharest and Arad. In 1993 a 9-day Buckinx Festival was held in De Rode Pomp in Ghent.

American composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski studied composition with Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt at Princeton, where he earned an MFA in 1960, before moving to Europe to study with Dallapicola in Florence and Elliott Carter in Berlin. In 1961 he co-founded the influential Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV), a live electronic music ensemble with composers Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum. Since the 1960s Rzewski has been active as a composer, pianist and teacher at universities and conservatories in Europe and the United States. He lives in Brussels.

In Korea Hyo-shin Na has twice been awarded the Korean National Composers Prize (for Western instrumental music & for Korean traditional instrumental music), and in the West she has been commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Argosy Foundation, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Elaine and Richard Fohr Foundation, InterMusic SF, the Other Minds Festival, and the Los Angeles International New Music Festival among many others. Her music has been played worldwide by ensembles as varied as the Barton Workshop, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Kronos Quartet, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the National Gugak Center Orchestra of Korea, the Del Sol String Quartet, the Ives Quartet, the Earplay Ensemble, New Music Works, the Pacific Chamber Orchestra and the Korean Traditional Orchestra of the National Theatre among many others. Numerous groups and individual musicians, such as New Music Works in the US, the Barton Workshop in Europe, and the Jeong Ga Ak Hoe Ensemble in Asia have presented portrait concerts devoted solely to her music.

Hyo-shin Na has written for western instruments, and for traditional Korean and Japanese instruments and has written music that combines western and Asian instruments and ways of playing. Her music for traditional Korean instruments is recognized by both composers and performers in Korea (particularly by the younger generation) as being uniquely innovative. Her writing for combinations of western and eastern instruments is unusual in its refusal to compromise the integrity of differing sounds and ideas; she prefers to let them interact, coexist and conflict in the music.

She is the author of the bilingual book Conversations with Kayageum Master Byung-ki Hwang (Pulbit Press, 2001). Her music has been recorded on the Fontec (Japan), Top Arts (Korea), Seoul (Korea) and New World Records (US) labels and has been published in Korea and Australia. Since 2006 her music has been published exclusively by Lantro Music (Belgium).