American styles


Saturday, October 11 // 7:30PM - 9:30PM

Adam Schoenberg – American Symphony
Originals and arrangements with PROJECT Trio
Leonard Bernstein – On the Waterfront, Suite

Celebrate wcfsymphony’s unique artistic vision at an exciting, approachable performance featuring music of our time and place. Chamber music rock stars PROJECT Trio bring their “musicianship, joy and surprise” to an incredible program that embraces just about every major American musical style. This concert is the final event in our Sounds American Festival.

Buck a Kid Curtain TalkMeet the Artists

Additional Info

This year we’re taking a more personal approach to program notes: insights from Jason into how and why pieces were selected, followed by notes and quotes from composers and artists about their work.

Jason Weinberger: The second program of our 2014 Sounds American Festival was devised in partnership with Peter Seymour of PROJECT Trio. PROJECT Trio has been the wcfsymphony hit list for a while, ever since I came across Greg Pattillo’s now-legendary flute beatboxing. (Believe it or not, beatboxing is something I’ve followed over the years.)

That background alone should alert you to the fact that October’s concert is anything but your standard symphony affair. The program opens with young composer Adam Schoenberg, whose serious yet approachable music is deeply rooted in a sense of possibility and optimism characteristic of this country’s history. Adam’s comments about his work are below.

In surrounding PROJECT Trio’s selections with Schoenberg’s and Bernstein’s music, Peter and I hoped to capture the uniquely American diversity of experience exemplified by the trio’s own amazing performances. Below are Peter’s thoughts on tonight’s PROJECT Trio repertoire.

Finally, Leonard Bernstein. I think by now you know that I’ll never pass up a good opportunity to get the work of one of my musical heroes onto a concert. In this case, it is Bernstein’s encounter with one the singular examples of America’s singular cultural export, film. His score for the gritty Elia Kazan movie On the Waterfront - along with music by Gilliam, Ellington and PROJECT Trio - reminds us that many of the most important American musical statements draw inspiration from outside traditional concert-hall culture.

Adam Schoenberg: American Symphony was inspired by the 2008 presidential election, where both parties asked the people to embrace change and make a difference. I was both excited and honored about ushering in this new era in our nation’s history, and for the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be American.

Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 is the quintessential American symphony, composed in 1946 - one year after World War II ended. I believe Copland wanted to bring beauty and peace into the world during a time of great turmoil. Quite serendipitously, I heard Copland’s 3rd three nights after President Obama was elected and, seeing that our country and world had needs similar to those of Copland’s time, I was inspired to make a difference. I set out to write a modern American symphony that paid homage to our past and looked forward to a brighter future.

While not a patriotic work, the symphony reflects a respect and responsibility for the great potential of our nation and a hunger to affect positive change. It is about our collective ability to restore hope within ourselves and our neighbors, both here and around the world. Cast in five movements, American Symphony is approximately 25 minutes in length.

Movement I is a fanfare, which introduces material that will be explored in the last movement. I wanted to create a succinct, swift, and uplifting prelude that projects the emotions that will be captured at the end of the journey. The final climax of movement I ends with the strings playing a harmonic cluster that fades into the beginning of movement II.

Movement II is conceived as an atmospheric movement and marks the start of the symphony’s emotional journey by capturing the struggle, pain and need for change. Approximately half way through, a chorale is introduced, and eight chords are played and repeated three different times before the movement ends. These eight chords are later developed in movement IV.

Movement III is the only movement that follows a traditional form. It is written in rondo form and is built on major triads that play a rhythmic motive. I call this “happy music.” Influenced by electronica, my goal is to create a strong pulse that resembles club-like beats.

Movement IV pays homage to great American composers such as Barber and Gershwin. It is an adagio movement that acts as a prayer, with the chorale heard in movement II becoming the main compositional material for the entire movement. This movement is dedicated to those lost in 9/11, hurricane Katrina, and all victims of violence and war.

Movement V is the longest movement, and is essentially conceived in three larger sections: Stars, Stripes, and Celebration. The final sounds played by the horns and brass represent the culmination of the musical journey, and aim to express further optimism and hope. The symphony ends suspended in mid-air to remind us that even though we are making positive strides to being a better America, we are still searching.

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Peter Seymour of PROJECT Trio: Fast starts very quietly with the timpani laying down a steady pulse and the strings rhythmically interjecting. The intensity continues to grow, as the brass join with powerful chords that introduce the soloists. Fast running lines lead to a full on jam section, featuring the beatboxing flute. The middle of the work highlights the Trio doing what it does best, with a wild and colorful solo section. The piece concludes loud and fast with the full orchestra.

The Nutcracker is PROJECT Trio's fun and unique take on the most famous ballet ever written.

Winter in June is one of the PROJECT Trio’s earliest works. One day in Boulder, CO, the members of PROJECT Trio were sitting around writing cool, relaxed music … when out of nowhere came an amazing storm. It started with rain and then thunder and lightning and then hail! Just as fast as it had come in, it was gone. It was an amazing scene that inspired us to compose this piece. We took elements of the storm and added them to this bluesy work.

Every year in NYC , the Cherry Blossoms bloom. It is an amazing time of year, with beauty all around. Cherry Blossoms is a truly whimsical work, that features a stunning melody from the flute, underscored by the cello chords freely flowing beneath. The orchestra adds depth and elegance to the work.

Finale of William Tell needs no explanation. It is one of the most recognizable works in the orchestral repertoire. We bring our own flare to this timeless classic. Nothing but fun!

Brahms Hungarian Dance #5 is our take on the classic, with a cool rock break down in the middle that sounds like it comes right off of a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album.

We constantly challenge ourselves to play music in every style. Raga Raja is an original Indian raga piece. It is no raga in particular, it is a raga of our own. Tonight is the world premiere of this work with orchestra.

The Bodega is an original salsa tune that brings the sounds of the streets of NYC to the concert hall, complete with drum solos on the cello and bass. High energy, fun, and makes you want to dance!

Random Roads Suite is a 3-movement work. The first movement, The Puzzle, is an up-tempo, rhythmic jam featuring cool solos from flautist, Greg Pattillo. The title comes from a wild mix metered section in the middle...try to figure it out!  Movement 2 is an amazing Adagio and is one of the most beautiful works in the PROJECT Trio repertoire. The use of harmonics in the cello and the bass make it so the listener cannot tell the difference between the three solo instruments (flute, cello, bass). The final movement, Pelea de Gallo, is a tone poem about chicken fight. It is a wild, head banging, movement that moves at breakneck speed.

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Leonard Bernstein: When I was first shown a rough cut of On the Waterfront I thought it a masterpiece of direction; and Marlon Brando seemed to me to be giving the greatest performance I had ever seen him give, which is saying a good deal. I was swept by my enthusiasm into accepting the commission to write the score, although I had (until then) resisted all such offers on the grounds that it is a musically unsatisfactory experience for a composer to write a score whose chief merit ought to be its unobtrusiveness …

But all such thoughts were drowned in the surge of excitement I felt upon first seeing this film. I heard music as I watched: that was enough. And the atmosphere of talent that this film gave off was exactly the atmosphere in which I love to work and collaborate. I have since then seen the picture some fifty times, in sections or in toto, and I have never changed in my re action. Day after day I sat at a movieola, running the print back and forth, measuring in feet the sequences I had chosen for music, converting feet into seconds by mathematical formula, making homemade cue sheets; and every time I wept at the same speeches, chuckled at the same gestures. This continued right through the composing, orchestrating, and recording of the music …

By this time, I had become so involved in each detail of the score that it seemed to me perhaps the most important part of the picture. I had to keep reminding myself that it is really the least important part, that a spoken line And, after all is said and done, the others are right. The whole picture is what counts; and the composer must see it not as a composer but as a man of the theater. Then the gratifications are many: he sees how the score has helped to blend atmospheres, to provide continuity, or to add a dimension by telling an inner story not overtly articulated in the dialogue or-the action. For a score, judiciously applied to a film, can infuse it with a warm breath of its own, while one bar too many of music can be a serious detriment. But oh, the pain of losing that bar; and oh, the fight the composer will put up for it!

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Guest Artists

A passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble comprised of three virtuosic composer/performers from Brooklyn, NY, the members of PROJECT Trio blend their classical training with an eclectic taste in musical styles. Combining the virtuosity of world-class artists with the energy of rock stars, PROJECT Trio breaks down traditional ideas of chamber music. The genre-defying Trio is acclaimed by the press as “packed with musicianship, joy and surprise” and “exciting a new generation of listeners about the joys of classical and jazz music.”

The Trio was forged out of a collective desire to draw new and diverse audiences by performing high energy, top quality music. Using social media to broaden their reach beyond the concert stage and classroom, the ensemble has its own YouTube channel, which has over 77 million views and 85,000 subscribers, making PROJECT Trio one of the most watched instrumental ensembles on the internet.

The members compose and arrange all of their own music, which they publish on their Harmonyville label.Their repertoire includes pieces for trio as well as several works with orchestra. With a goal to further expand the repertoire for their unique combination of flute, cello and bass, the Trio is collaborating with composer Adam Schoenberg, whose work is featured in this program, on a concerto commissioning project.

The Trio is dedicated to arts education, teaching the art and joy of jamming on classical instruments and opening minds to what instruments can do. Engaging younger audiences, PROJECT Trio has performed and led workshops for over 150,000 students on four continents and is instantly recognizable to students of all ages as a result of their YouTube following and appearances on popular TV shows on Nickelodeon and MTV.

Double bassist Peter Seymour has performed with many of the world’s most highly acclaimed artists and ensembles, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New World Symphony, Houston Symphony, New York City Ballet,  Iris Orchestra  and the Colorado Music Festival. He was the recipient of the Downbeat Magazine Award for Best Jazz Soloist and has shared the stage with such luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove and Bobby McFerrin.

Since the inception of PROJECT Trio, Peter has taken on many roles, including CEO, manager, and community engagement director. He is especially passionate about education and outreach and has organized events for the Trio benefiting over 150,000 students on three continents in eleven countries and over 35 States.  Peter also serves as the director of PROJECT: The Camp, a unique summer music festival founded in 2012 that focuses on modern chamber music, with an emphasis on ensemble, improvisation, composition, memorization, performance, and extended techniques.

Peter received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master's Degree in Bass Performance from Rice University where he was a student of Paul Ellison. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, NY.

Greg Pattillo is recognized throughout the world for his redefinition of flute sound. Greg was lauded by The New York Times as “the best person in the world at what he does.”  His groundbreaking performance videos on Youtube, showcasing “beatbox flute”, have been viewed more than 40 million times.

As an Internationally acclaimed performer, educator and clinician, Greg can be found both on the concert stage and on the streets, subways and parks, sharing and preaching his sound.  After earning his masters degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Greg found work as the acting principal flute of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, became a founding member of the Collaborative Arts Insurgency and the 16th and Mission Thursday night gathering for performers in San Francisco.

Mr. Pattillo currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and performs with PROJECT Trio.  Greg Performs exclusively on Brio! and Gemeinhardt flutes.

An exceptionally versatile cellist, Eric Stephenson’s style ranges from classical to jazz to rock and folk. He has performed with numerous orchestras like the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis, TN and the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, CO. Eric was also a regular substitute for the Cleveland Orchestra.

Eric earned his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees with Honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a recipient of the Ellis A. Feiman Award in Cello while a student of Stephen Geber. As a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, he served as Assistant Principal Cello of the Aspen Festival Orchestra from 1999-2004. He has appeared as a soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra and the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.

In 2006, Eric moved to NYC and spends most of his time performing with PROJECT Trio, which he co-founded.  Composing and recording is a huge part of his life.  He has engineered and mixed 2 full length PROJECT Trio albums and premiered 2 works for trio and orchestra.  In his spare time, he enjoys biking around Brooklyn and playing the tenor sax.


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