Arts & Events

New: Berkeley Symphony on Thursday: Gabriela Lena Frank premiere, Kodaly, Bartok

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 07:08:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony, conducted by Joana Carneiro, finishes its season this Thursday at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium, with a world premiere of Berkeley's Gabriela Lena Frank's 'Holy Sisters,' commissioned by the Symphony, with soprano Jessica Rivera, whom the piece was written for, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus--as well as Zoltan Kodaly's 'Dances for Galanta' (premiered in Budapest, 1933) and Bela Bartok's 'Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta' (premiered 1937, in Basel). 

Frank's piece, inspired by the poem by Portuguese poet Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, is the first of two parts, the second to be premiered next Spring by the SF Girls Chorus. Rivera will make her third appearance with the Symphony, after performances of Esa-Pekka Salonen and a stunning rendition of Samuel Barber's 'Knoxville, Summer of 1915, 'from James Agee's story, both under Carneiro's baton. 

Kodaly was hailed by his old friend and companion in folk music collecting, Bartok: "If I were to name the composer whose works are the most perfect embodiment of teh Hungarian spirit, I would answer, Kodaly." 'Dances for Galanta,' named after a market town between Budapest and Vienna, where Kodaly spent seven years of his childhood--his father was a stationmaster for the Austro-Hungarian rail system--and was inspired by a famous Gypsy band there, which had forebears dating back at least to 1800, when a book of Magyar dances was published in Vienna, some being "after several Gypsies from Galanta." 

Bartok's 'Music for Strings ... ' is marked by the division of the strings into two sections, intended to be on opposite sides of the stage, from which the composer draws antiphonal effects, especially in the second and fourth movements. Shostakovich's 13th Symphony is thought to parody this work, as a response to Bartok's burlesque of Shostakovich's 7th in Bartok's .Music for Orchestra.' 

Frank will be joined by members of the SF Girls Chorus in the pre-concert talk at 7:15. 

Zellerbach Auditorium, UC campus near Bancroft & Telegraph, 8 p. m. Thursday April 26. $20-$80. 841-2800;