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Our 2024 Spring Chamber Music Series will explore some of the most beautiful repertoire in the intimate sanctuary of Greeley's First United Methodist Church.

 

We are excited to invite current students from the University of Northern Colorado to conclude our chamber music series with an exciting program of nineteenth and twentieth century works by leading French, Russian, and Czech composers.

 Sunday, May 5, 2024 | 2:00 PM | First United Methodist Church Greeley

PROGRAM

Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)

Suite for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano, op. 157b (1936)

 

Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953)

Overture on Hebrew Themes for Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano, op. 34 (1919)

 

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)

Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, op. 81 (1887)

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Conor Sprunger is a clarinetist and music educator based in Greeley, Colorado. Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Conor is currently pursuing his Doctor of Arts in Clarinet Performance from University of Northern Colorado. Previously he ran a successful private clarinet studio for 7 years while attaining his bachelor and masters from Western Michigan University.

 

In addition to his teaching experience, Conor has performed extensively on clarinet and bass clarinet with a myriad of groups including the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Holland (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra, Larimer Chorale, Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, and the Birds on a Wire: Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

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Román Carranza is a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He started his musical training early and continued his studies at the renowned school for young talented musicians Victoriano Lopez Conservatory in Honduras. During his early years as a young player, Mr. Carranza participated in several music festivals and workshops around Central America, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States of America.

 

Furthermore, he became one of the youngest members of the late San Pedro Sula Chamber Orchestra – Awarded as the top string group in Central America under the baton of maestro Jose Iglesias Carnot (Cuba) – and later on, became a member of the Honduras' Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. Carranza holds a Bachelor's and Master's in Music Performance from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. He is the two-time winner of the Concerto Competition at NSULA in 2013, and 2015. He is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado.

 

Additionally, Mr. Carranza's musical journey throughout the years of music making has been actively working as a music educator, strings teacher, and orchestra musician. He has worked as a teacher of youth string orchestras in the US and Honduras. He was a member of several symphony orchestras in the ARK-LA-TEX area and is now an active violinist with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, and Steamboat Opera.  

 

Mr. Carranza enjoys spending his free time exploring the culinary arts and long walks with his beloved and beautiful wife Wendy.

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Reginald (“Reggie”) Winters is an active pianist, educator, and arts administrator based out of Greeley, Colorado. As a performer, Reggie has become a highly sought after collaborator. He currently serves as a Collaborative Piano Teaching Assistant at the University of Northern Colorado where he assists with courses in the Voice Area. He additionally serves as the basso continuo in the URSA Early Music Ensemble. He has previously served as an orchestral pianist for the Texas Tech University Symphony Orchestra and for the chamber orchestra Ensemble Bravura. 

 

Reggie completed the Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Texas Tech University where he was a recipient of the Undergraduate Collaborative Piano scholarship. He is currently completing his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Northern Colorado. His principal teachers include Drs. Tatiana Roitman Mann and Lei Weng.

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Hanguang Wang is a highly sought after pianist, harpsichordist, and collaborator in Greeley, Colorado. Born and raised in China, she began her piano studies at the age of six. She has performed in the United States, Italy, Slovenia, and China, and has been an active piano teacher since 2011. Her most recent orchestral appearance was in 2023 performing W. A. Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365, as part of the Beethoven in the Rockies Concert Series with the Greeley Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Wang completed the Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance at Shandong Normal University in Shandong, China. She continued her studies with Dr. Adam Żukiewicz at the University of Northern Colorado where she completed the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and the Performance Certificate in Piano. She is currently pursuing the Doctor of Arts degree in Piano Performance at the University of Northern Colorado with a secondary emphasis in Harpsichord. She has served as both a Collaborative Piano Graduate Assistant and a class piano Teaching Assistant.

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Ko-Ching Tai began her studies at the age of five in her home country of Taiwan. Since her arrival in the United States in 2022, Ms. Tai was awarded second prize at the 2022 Colorado MTNA Young Artist competition and first prize at the University of Northern Colorado's 2023 Concerto Competition. She will make her Colorado debut with orchestra in a performance of Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, op. 26, in March of 2024.

Ms. Tai has been fortunate to participated in masterclasses for such eminent pianists and teachers as Petar Klasan, Alexei Volodin, Ilja Scheps, Boris Slutsky, and Dina Yoffe. She completed the Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Kaohsiung Normal University where she also obtained a teaching certificate through their education program. She is currently completing the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Northern Colorado. Her most influential teachers include Drs. Chao-Yin Chen, Joanna Ting, and Lei Weng.

PROGRAM NOTES
by
Hanguang Wang

 

Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)

Suite for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano, op. 157b (1936)

 

Darius Milhaud was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. In 1909, he entered the Paris Conservatory, studying under teachers such as Vincent d’Indy and Charles Widor. Later, he served as secretary to the eminent poet and dramatist, Paul Claudel at the French embassy in Rio de Janeiro during World War I. Upon returning to Paris, he became a member of “Les Six,” a group that included Francis Poulenc and Arthur Honegger.

 

Widely regarded as one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century, Milhaud’s musical style bore the profound influence of jazz and the neoclassical tendencies embraced by the members of “Les Six.” Among his notable works is the jazz-inspired ballet “Le Bœuf sur le toit” (The Ox on the Roof). Milhaud staunchly advocated for French neoclassicism, leaving an impressive legacy of 441 works, including 12 operas. He displayed both classical sensibilities and a talent for eclectic influences, experimenting with jazz, polytonality (simultaneously using more than one key), and even incorporating elements of chance. Renowned as an influential teacher, Milhaud mentored numerous future jazz and classical composers, counting Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis among his notable students.

 

The Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano comprises four movements derived from Incidental Music composed by Milhaud in 1936 for Jean Anouilh’s play The Traveler without Luggage. The play revolves around Gaston, a World War I veteran suffering from amnesia, symbolizing the lost baggage mentioned in the title. Following the advice of an asylum psychiatrist, Gaston embarks on a quest to uncover his past, spending 24 hours with a family who mistakenly believe him to be their missing son. As he unravels his history, Gaston confronts his past as a seducer, wife-stealer, and overall vile character. Choosing to abandon his old self, he adopts a new personality and embraces a new family.


This acclaimed theatrical work is enriched by Milhaud’s skillful incorporation of Brazilian folk elements. The Ouverture, marked by a lively rumba rhythm, immediately plunges the audience into the world of entertainment. The Divertissement, features simple, folk-inspired melodies. The scherzo-like third movement, performed solely by the violin and clarinet, lively rhythms and accents transform the theatrical atmosphere into a dance-like sensation. The Introduction et final, showcases Milhaud’s favorite bitonality in a joyful Farandole dance, concluding the composition with an easy-going dance after a short-lived serious introduction.

 

Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953)

Overture on Hebrew Themes, op. 34 (1919)

 

After the outbreak of the Communist Revolution in Russia, Prokofiev took refuge in New York in 1918. The following year, the Zimro (“singing,” in Hebrew) Ensemble, founded by Prokofiev’s former classmate, clarinetist Simeon Bellison, arrived in the United States and embarked on a mission to raise funds for the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music, focusing their performances on mesmerizing Jewish music played on different combinations of instruments. Prokofiev was so impressed by the ensemble’s repertoire that, by chance, the ensemble invited him to compose a new work for the entire sextet.

 

Although Prokofiev was unfamiliar with Jewish folk songs, he accepted the challenge when the group offered him a collection of traditional Jewish melodies. He drew inspiration from two Jewish melodies in the ensemble’s repertoire: a freilakhs, a joyous instrumental dance tune played by klezmorim in Europe, and a Yiddish wedding song, “Zayt gezunterheyt” (May you stay healthy!) — he embarked on creating a composition that captures the poignant moments of a bride bidding farewell to her parents as she enters a new chapter in her life with her husband.

 

The Overture premiered in 1920 at the New York “Bohemian Club,” where Prokofiev served as the guest pianist. The composition seamlessly blends two distinct themes – a lively, almost whimsical dance led by the clarinet and a poignant lament introduced by the cello. Prokofiev’s keen sense of humor and innovative use of tone colors enrich the piece, creating a dynamic narrative that pays homage to traditional Jewish ensembles while showcasing his exceptional compositional skill. Although later reworked for larger ensembles, the original sextet instrumentation of the Overture became a model for Jewish-related arrangements and new works, embodying a distinctive “Jewish instrumentation” praised for its coloristic possibilities and timbre variety, both artistically expressive and eminently practical.

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)

Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, op. 81 (1887)

 

Antonín Dvořák, the Czech composer, followed in the nationalist footsteps of Bedřich Smetana, frequently incorporating elements, especially rhythms, from the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia into his compositions. His musical style has been described as “the fullest recreation of a national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them.” Apart from his renowned Ninth Symphony, his extensive repertoire spans concertos, chamber music, and operas, highlighting his unparalleled versatility. Navigating through various musical genres, Dvořák transitioned from the Lisztian symphonic poem to Brahmsian chamber music, effectively bridging the aesthetic divides of his era.

 

This A major Piano Quintet possesses all the elements that have made Dvořák renowned worldwide: enchanting melodies, colorful harmonies, and a well-balanced sense of drama. The first two movements are considerably longer than the latter two, with the Dumka in the second movement serving as the focal point. The initial movement follows a sonata form, showcasing sustained lyricism, breadth of expression, and the melancholy play between major and minor tonalities reminiscent of earlier Viennese master. The second movement, a “Dumka,” is a Ukrainian folk narrative ballad with an inherently deep and melancholic character. In Dvořák’s hands, this Slavic feature takes on various forms, but here, a consistent melody is maintained, preserving the narrative essence. The outer sections are slow and mournful, while the middle section is quite lively and exciting. The captivating and narrative main melody, initially introduced by the viola, undergoes ingenious variations upon each subsequent restatement. Contrasting sections alternate between tenderness and vigor.

 

The third movement, titled “Furiant,” is a lively and energetic Bohemian dance featuring alternating 2/4 and 3/4 time. Dvořák frequently drew inspiration from this dance, employing it in lieu of the traditional scherzo. This movement, a light ternary composition, is notably shorter than the preceding two. The Finale of the Quintet is also relatively brief, presenting a concise sonata form with two lively themes and a skillfully crafted fugal development section. Particularly captivating are the moments of unexpected, purity and solemnity that emerge in the closing pages of the movement, creating a sense of suspended time and concluding the work on an introspective note.

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THIS EVENT
GENERAL ADMISSIONS
$30
SENIOR (65+) ADMISSIONS
$20
Tickets will be available for purchase at the door prior to the start of the event.
Free Tickets available at the door for active military personal, veterans, individuals with disabilities (ADA), children, and students with a valid Student ID card. 
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