The new season opens with the world premiere performance of Oscar Bettison’s Sea Shaped, commissioned by Berkeley Symphony. Born in the UK, Bettison is best known for his willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. Violinist Jennifer Koh returns to Berkeley to perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Orchestra. A favorite with Berkeley audiences, Ms. Koh is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. The evening ends with Edward Elgar’s stirring Enigma Variations. Premiered in 1899, Elgar dedicated the piece to “my friends pictured within”, each variation being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances.
ProgramOscar Bettison: Sea Shaped (World Premiere Commission)
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Described by critics as having a “unique voice,” British/American composer Oscar Bettison’s music has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. He likes to work with what he calls “Cinderella instruments,” either by making percussion instruments or by re-imagining other instruments as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music and the inclusion of electro-acoustic elements. His recent pieces have been concerned with bringing these strands together.
Stay up to date with Oscar Bettison on Twitter @OscarBettison
Recognized for her intense, commanding performances, Jennifer Koh is forging an artistic path of her own devising, choosing works and collaborations that both inspire and challenge. She is dedicated to performing the violin repertoire of all eras from traditional to contemporary, believing that the past and present form a continuum. Committed to exploring connections in the works she performs, searching for similarities of voice among diverse composers and associations within the works of a single composer.
"I think of Sea Shaped as a kind of ritual. The orchestra is divided into several groups; the strings play a constantly recurring yet evolving figure, whilst other groups interject and disturb this surface. Gradually, these elements erode and form themselves once again. I do not intend for this piece to be a depiction of the sea, but rather a ritual tableau based on the process of shaping and reshaping - a constant cycle of beginnings."- Oscar Bettison
Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Jean Sibelius was born on December 8, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, Finland and died on September 20, 1957 in Järvenpää, Finland. Sibelius composed the Violin Concerto in 1902-04, revising it the following year. Sibelius’s only work in this genre, the Violin Concerto is an abstract work shorn of the overt connections to the world of Finnish mythology with which he had first made his name. It may also be seen as a sublimated projection of the composer’s failed dreams to become a violin virtuoso — but one that achieves a remarkable balance of display and substance, solo fireworks and symphonic coherence.
Elgar: Enigma Variations
Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857 in the village of Lower Broadheath in the Midlands of England. He died on February 23, 1934 in Worcester, England. Elgar composed the Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra, Op. 36 — universally known simply as the “Enigma" Variations) — between October 1898 and February 1899 and subsequently revised the score. A towering example of orchestral variations, the work gave Elgar his first great breakthrough as a composer and can be appreciated on several different levels: as a personal tribute to his close circle of friends, as a study in the musical development of a core idea, and as a mystical key to a larger, “unheard” meaning.
Additional EventsOpening Night Dinner, 9pm - Learn more.
Susan & Jim AcquistapaceGertrude AllenEllen Hahn, in memory of Roger Hahn
Ms. Koh’s appearance made possible by the generosity of Sarah Coade Mandell & Peter Mandell.