OSSCS Press Release: July 2, 2018
July 2, 2018 • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OSSCS Unveils 49th season, “Introductions,” under newly appointed music director William White
- Inaugural season of William White, OSSCS’s new music director, the third in its 49-year history.
- Season-long focus on the music of Lili Boulanger, making OSSCS one of the only classical music organizations in the country to devote an entire season to a retrospective of a female composer.
- Guest artists include pianist Dana Brown and singers who have performed with: New York City Opera, Tacoma Opera, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Indianapolis Symphony and Cincinnati Symphony.
- Performance by NW Chapter of Chopin Foundation of the United States competition winner.
- Two works by music director William White.
- Performances take place at the First Free Methodist Church, Queen Anne; additional Messiah performance at First Presbyterian Church of Everett.
Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers (OSSCS) present a season of six programs, conducted and designed by newly appointed music director William White. The season focuses on the works of French composer Lili Boulanger (1893–1918), who produced several masterpieces before dying of Crohn’s disease at age 24. Over the course of the season, five of her works will be paired with music that influenced her, was influenced by her, or interacts with similar themes as those upon which she wrote.
Other season highlights include: Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Franck’s Symphony in D minor and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 (“Spring”). OSSCS’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah will take place December 15 in Seattle and December 16 in Everett. OSSCS’s partnership with the NW Chopin Foundation continues; new partnerships with Alliance Française and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation begin.
The opening concert, “The Bounty of the Earth” (October 6) includes works by White, Boulanger, Copland and Haydn. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the first world war, “Valor & Remembrance: The Music of WWI” (November 3) features piano soloist Dana Brown. Soloists for this year’s Messiah performances (December 15 and 16) are Amanda Opuszynski, Laura Thoreson, Brendan Tuohy and José Rubio. “Symphonies of Psalms” (February 9) brings together music spanning 400 centuries, including an a cappella choral work by Caroline Shaw, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Lili Boulanger’s major masterpiece Du fond de l’abîme anchors “Out of the Depths” (March 16). The season concludes with “Spring Symphony” (April 27), featuring music of Boulanger, Brahms, J.S. Bach, Schumann, and the winner of this season’s NW Chopin Foundation Competition.
About William White
William White is a conductor, composer, teacher, writer and performer whose musical career has spanned genres and crossed disciplines. For four seasons (2011–2015) he served as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, working closely with music director Louis Langrée and an array of guest artists, including John Adams, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Itzhak Perlman and James Conlon. A noted pedagogue, he has led some of the nation’s finest youth orchestra programs, including Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Mr. White has significant experience working with choirs and vocal soloists in a variety of contexts, from small a cappella ensembles to major symphonic and operatic choruses. He has long-standing associations with a number of musical organizations, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he has regularly given pre-concert lectures since 2008. For three seasons, he was music director of Cincinnati’s Seven Hills Sinfonietta, a period that saw remarkable growth for the organization.
In addition, Mr. White maintains a significant career as a composer of music for the concert stage, theater, cinema, church, radio and film. His music — which includes a symphony, an oratorio, chamber music of all varieties, and several works intended for young audiences — has been performed throughout North America as well as in Asia and Europe. Several of his works have been recorded on the MSR Classics and Cedille Record labels.
Mr. White earned a masters degree in conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, studying symphonic and operatic repertoire with David Effron and Arthur Fagan. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Chicago, where his principal teachers were composer Easley Blackwood and conductor Barbara Schubert. In 2004, he began attending the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors under the tutelage of Michael Jinbo, later serving as the school’s conducting associate, and then as its composer-in-residence.
Hailing from Bethesda, Maryland, Mr. White began his musical training as a violist. He is active as a clinician, arranger and guest conductor, particularly of his own works. His orchestral arrangements, including “Happy,” “Dear Theodosia” and an orchestral suite from Sweeney Todd, have been performed by orchestras throughout the United States.
In 2015, Mr. White launched Ask a Maestro, a YouTube series in which he answers questions about the world of classical music. Recordings of his works can be heard at www.willcwhite.com, where he also maintains a blog and publishing business.
Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers (OSSCS) is a thriving volunteer-based organization with deep roots in the Seattle community. It consists of a 75-member semi-professional orchestra and a 55-voice chorus. Membership in both groups is by audition and includes professional musicians, music teachers and highly skilled amateurs who come together to work under the direction of OSSCS music director William White. During its 49-year history, OSSCS has performed canonic works of the oratorio, symphonic and choral repertoire, and has sought to promote new music by Northwest composers employing the finest local instrumental and vocal soloists.
Founded in 1969 by visionary musician George Shangrow, the ensemble has attained special recognition for its interpretations of the music of Handel and Bach, and has introduced rarely heard choral masterpieces to Seattle audiences, such as Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and Haydn’s The Seasons. Praised by critics for its musicians’ vibrant sound and spirited, disciplined singing, OSSCS also delights in performing classics such as Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Brahms’ German Requiem. After George Shangrow’s unexpected death in 2010, OSSCS presented three seasons of concerts led by guest conductors. From 2013 to 2017, OSSCS was led by Clinton Smith, a period that saw further growth for the organization, expansion of the repertoire, and new partnerships with the community.
2018–2019 Season: Introductions
The Bounty of the Earth
Saturday, October 6, 2018 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
Catherine Haight, soprano • Brendan Tuohy, tenor • José Rubio, baritone
WHITE Acadia Fanfare
BOULANGER Psalm 24 (“La terre appartient à l'éternel”)
COPLAND Suite from Appalachian Spring
HAYDN “Autumn” from The Seasons
Our opening program celebrates nature and its abundance. We present a first taste of the music of Lili Boulanger with her vigorous setting of the 24th psalm (“The Earth Belongs to the Eternal One”) and then turn to one of the great American classics, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland (who was a student of Lili Boulanger’s sister, Nadia.) The second half of the concert features a staple of the OSSCS repertoire, the autumnal portion of Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Seasons. William White begins the concert with a musical introduction of himself by way of his Acadia Fanfare, an orchestral showpiece written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park.
Valor & Remembrance: The Music of World War I
Saturday, November 3, 2018 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
Dana Brown, piano • Charles Robert Stephens, baritone
BOULANGER Pour les funérailles d’un soldat
HINDEMITH String Quartet No. 2 in F minor [movement 1]
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
HOLST Ode to Death
PARRY “There is an Old Belief” from Songs of Farewell
RAVEL La Valse
November 2018 marks the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I. This concert explores the experience of “the war to end all wars” through the ears of the those who lived it: Maurice Ravel, an ambulance driver at the front lines; Paul Hindemith, a young soldier in the Prussian army; Gustav Holst, who memorialized his many friends lost during the war in Ode to Death; and Hubert Parry, a Germanophile who could never reconcile himself to the fact that his country had gone to war with the Kaiser. Lili Boulanger is represented by her cortège-like Pour les funérailles d’un soldat (“For the funeral of a soldier”), a startlingly prescient vision composed during the lead-up to the Great War.
Saturday, December 15, 2018 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
Sunday, December 16, 2018 • 3:00 p.m. • First Presbyterian Church, Everett
Amanda Opuszynski, soprano • Laura Thoreson, mezzo-soprano • Brendan Tuohy, tenor • José Rubio, baritone
“The Sublime, the Grand and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestic and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear.” So read the first-ever review of George Frideric Handel’s supreme masterpiece, premiered in 1742. To this day, the holiday season would be incomplete without a performance of Messiah. This oratorio is a cornerstone of OSSCS’s repertoire, and once again we are joined by some of the nation’s finest vocal soloists to present it in its complete, unabridged glory.
Symphonies of Psalms
Saturday, February 9, 2019 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
SCHÜTZ Alleluja! Lobet dem Herren!
SHAW and the swallow
STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
DVOŘÁK Psalm 149
BOULANGER Psalm 129
WHITE Psalm 46
Spanning four centuries of music, this program offers a collection of the astonishing variety of responses that the Psalms have inspired in composers, from a Baroque masterwork of Heinrich Schütz to the captivating music of Caroline Shaw, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms is a work as unusual as it is transcendent. The second half of the program pits Antonín Dvořák’s thrilling Psalm 149 against Lili Boulanger’s restless Psalm 129 (which features a style that would be imitated in many film noir scores of the mid-20th century). The concert concludes with a jubilant setting of Psalm 46 by OSSCS music director William White, newly orchestrated for this performance.
Out of the Depths
Saturday, March 16, 2019 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
Laura Thoreson, mezzo-soprano
BRAHMS Tragic Overture
BOULANGER Du fond de l’abîme
FRANCK Symphony in D minor
From tragedy to triumph, this concert explores the extremes of human feeling as expressed by three of history’s greatest composers. Johannes Brahms sets the stage with his Tragic Overture, capturing both anguish and hope, followed by Lili Boulanger’s Du fond de l’abîme (“Out of the depths”), the apex of her achievement as a composer. César Franck’s Symphony in D minor, a favorite of audiences and performers alike, encapsulates infinite shadings of darkness and light and is notable for its use of “cyclic form,” in which musical themes appear and reappear throughout the symphony, interacting with each other like characters in an opera.
Saturday, April 27, 2019 • 7:30 p.m. • First Free Methodist Church, Seattle
Arwen Myers, soprano • Stephen Rumph, tenor • Damien Geter, bass
BOULANGER D’un matin de printemps
BRAHMS Vier Gesänge, Op. 17
J.S. BACH Der Himmel Lacht!, BWV 31
CHOPIN work for piano and orchestra TBD
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 (“Spring”)
The 49th season of Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers concludes with a wave of fresh air and a ray of sunshine. Our season-long retrospective of the music of Lili Boulanger culminates with her D’un matin de printemps (“Of a spring morning”), a bright, impressionistic work that owes much of its musical language to Claude Debussy. Johannes Brahms scored his Op. 17 for the unusual combination of women’s choir, two horns and harp, while Bach’s sunny Easter cantata (“The Sky Is Laughing!”) is a festive work for soloists, choir and orchestra. Our grand finale is Robert Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony, full of sparkle and verve; sketched out in a mere four days, it brims with spontaneity.