Maurice Ravel’s delightful Mother Goose Suite opens the program. A series of illustrations of French fairy tales was the inspiration behind this piece, which started out as a piano duet, then was expanded to a ballet, from which this orchestra suite was derived. Jake Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire was premiered to great acclaim as a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and string quartet in San Francisco in 2012. Berkeley Symphony commissioned Mr. Heggie to write the orchestral version, which receives its world premiere with the enchanting Sasha Cooke as soloist. This performance closes with Brahms’ powerful Fourth Symphony, completed only a year after the premiere of his Third Symphony.
6:30 pm – Box Office/Will Call and Cafe Zellerbach open*
7:00 pm – Pre-concert talk in the main hall (free to all ticket holders)
8:00 pm – Concert begins
*To make a reservation at Cafe Zellerbach, contact Cindy Hickox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 841-2800, x303.
ProgramRavel: Mother Goose Suite
(World Premiere) Commissioned by Berkeley Symphony with the Lead Sponsorship gift of Linda and Stuart Nelson.
About the Artists
Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, and Out of Darkness. He has also composed some 250 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. His operas – most created with the distinguished writers Terrence McNally and Gene Scheer – have been produced on five continents. Moby-Dick was telecast in 2013 as part of Great Performances’ 40th Season and receives its East Coast premiere in 2014 at the Kennedy Center.
Grammy-award winning, American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke triumphed in 2013 as the title role in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at San Francisco Opera. She was hailed by the San Francisco Examiner for “her soaring and warm voice, crystalline diction and regal yet endearing presence”; Ms. Cooke as Mary was “the glory of the production.” Equally acclaimed by for her chamber music performances, the versatile young mezzo has been celebrated by The New York Times as a “luminous standout.”
Ravel: Mother Goose Suite
Born on March 7, 1875, in Ciboure, France; died on December 28, 1937, in Paris. Ravel composed Ma Mère l’Oye (“Mother Goose”) in 1908-1910 as a suite for piano four hands. In 1911-1912 he orchestrated the piece and also added some new material to create a ballet work. The orchestral suite, which has become a concert hall favorite, provides an enchanting example of Ravel’s poetic re-creation of childhood fantasy. Far from a musical fairy-tale theme park, the Mother Goose Suite shows off his beguiling mastery of orchestral texture and color.
Jake Heggie’s notes on Camille Claudel: Into the Fire
The remarkable story of the life and work of Camille Claudel, a great 19th-century French sculptor, has been told in acclaimed films, novels and international exhibitions. In 2012, Gene Scheer and I created an operatic song cycle, Into the Fire, to explore Claudel's tragic story through music, poetry and song. Now the magnificent Berkeley Symphony and its brilliant conductor Joana Carneiro give us an even broader, richer view of Claudel with a new orchestration of this work, sung by the radiant American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity, at last, to collaborate with the Berkeley Symphony, a true Bay Area treasure, and I look forward to sharing a thrilling evening with the audience.
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Born on May 7, 1833, in Hamburg, Germany; died on April 3, 1897, in Vienna. Johannes Brahms composed the Fourth Symphony between 1884 and 1885. A late-bloomer in writing symphonies, Brahms initially felt weighed down by the challenge of adding to a genre Beethoven had seemingly perfected. But in this last of his four symphonies he confidently drew on the wisdom he had gathered from looking backward — as a composer, a conductor, a pianist, and a musical scholar. Here, Brahms distills his deep reverence for tradition as well as what he had learned from his own creative struggles into one of the most masterfully and subtly constructed works of the entire orchestral repertoire.
Jennifer Howard & Anthony J. Cascardi Thomas & Mary Reicher