Department of Music

Program Notes: Orchestra Concerts - 03/04-05/2023

Program annotations for the Brown University Orchestra's March 4-5, 2023 concerts, directed by Mark Seto and presented in Sayles Hall. The proceeds from these concerts will benefit the American Cancer Society in memory of Professor Arlene Cole, the Arlene Cole Piano Fund, and the Brown University Orchestra Tour Fund.

Toccata Festiva, Op. 36 (1960) 16’
Samuel Barber (1910–1981)

Mark Steinbach, organ

The maintenance of the Sayles Hall pipe organ is made possible through a generous gift of the family of David A. Lownes ‘53.

Rhapsody in Blue (1924) 16’
George Gershwin (1898–1937)

Nicholas Huang ‘23, piano
2022–23 BUO Concerto Competition Winner




Fantaisie Brillante on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen (1880) 11’
François Borne (1840–1920)

Judy Lee ‘26, flute
2022–23 BUO Concerto Competition Winner

Vetrate di Chiesa: Quattro Impressioni per Orchestra (1926) 27’
Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936)

(Church Windows: Four Symphonic Impressions)

I. La fuga in Egitto (The Flight into Egypt)
II. San Michele Arcangelo (Saint Michael the Archangel)
III. Il Mattutino di Santa Chiara (The Matins of Santa Chiara)
IV. San Gregorio Magno (Saint Gregory the Great)

About the Program

When the Academy of Music in Philadelphia installed a new pipe organ in 1960, Samuel Barber was engaged to write a festive piece for the instrument’s inauguration. Barber was the natural choice for the commission. The organ was funded by Mary Curtis Zimbalist, who had founded the Curtis Institute of Music in the 1920s, and Barber was one of the conservatory’s first students and most illustrious graduates. Zimbalist became Barber’s most important patron, and even helped him and his partner Gian Carlo Menotti buy their country home in Mount Kisco, New York. Paul Callaway, the organist at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., premiered the Toccata Festiva in September 1960, with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy.

The Toccata Festiva is cast in a single movement that juxtaposes bravura flourishes with the composer’s trademark lyricism. Barber makes inventive use of color throughout, with the orchestra and organ working together like a single instrument: a theme on the organ’s reed pipes gets echoed by the English horn, and the trumpets and the organ’s trumpet stop trade statements of a soaring melody. An intense climax leads into an extraordinary cadenza for the organ pedals. After a brief moment of respite, the work concludes with a blazing peroration.

These performances are dedicated to the memory of Professor Arlene Cole, a beloved member of the Music Department who taught at Brown from 1970 until her retirement in 2021. Through her musicianship classes, music theory labs, and theory courses, and as Director of the Applied Music Program for Keyboard, Professor Cole played a foundational role in the lives and musical development of countless Brown students. She had a deep affinity for the music of Samuel Barber, whose work she explored in her Master’s thesis.

There are few pieces of classical music as instantly recognizable and unabashedly American as George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Opening with a suave clarinet solo that critics have deemed as famous as the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (American Heritage, 1999), the Rhapsody quickly establishes itself as a musical manifestation of the unfettered optimism and untapped potential of the Roaring Twenties. Gershwin composed the Rhapsody in just five weeks in 1924, at the behest of Paul Whiteman, a prominent jazz band leader in Gershwin’s hometown of New York City. Between brash brass fanfares, light and lilting piano solos, and tremendous orchestral tuttis, Gershwin paints pictures of clacking train tracks, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and other images coalescing into what he termed a “musical kaleidoscope of America” but what others have termed a “portrait of Jazz Age New York City,” (Wall Street Journal, 2016). From its famous opening flourish to the brilliant finale, the Rhapsody in Blue is confident, almost arrogantly so–a true product of the prosperity and achievements of the Jazz Age.

Annotation by Nicholas Huang

Operatic fantasies and transcriptions were a staple of concert programs in the nineteenth century: they provided a vehicle for performers to show off using tunes that were already known and loved by listeners. And few operas were as known and loved, then and now, as Carmen. Georges Bizet’s 1875 opéra-comique has provided the source material for many instrumental showpieces, including works for violin, piano, guitar, and—in the case of this selection by François Borne—flute.

Borne was a flutist, flute maker, and professor at the Toulouse Conservatory, and his virtuosic Fantaisie Brillante takes full advantage of the technical capabilities of the modern flute. The piece explores some Carmen’s most iconic material: the “Fate” motive that pervades the entire opera, the titular character’s famous Habañera (in a dazzling set of variations), the Danse bohème, and the bullfighter Escamillo’s “Toreador Song.” Borne’s Fantaisie Brillante has been arranged for large ensemble by several musicians. The version we perform this weekend was orchestrated by the flute virtuoso Sir James Galway.

Although Ottorino Respighi is best remembered today for his trilogy of Roman symphonic poems—Fountains of Rome (1916), Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1926–28)—his Church Windows (1926) deserves similar pride of place in his oeuvre. The composition began as a piano work, Three Preludes on Gregorian Melodies, that Respighi wrote in the summer of 1919. He had recently married the mezzo-soprano Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo, who showed him some passages of Gregorian chant that she had learned during her studies. Elsa noted in her memoirs: “this composition reflects Respighi’s state of mind at the time: the joyous wonder of a revelation and at the same time the mystic exultation of profound religious feeling.” Respighi orchestrated the piece and added a fourth movement in 1925–26 to create the “Four Symphonic Impressions” we perform at these concerts.

Respighi did not have a specific program in mind when he first conceived this piece, but after consulting with a literature professor, he decided to add descriptive titles based on stained glass windows from different Italian cathedrals. “The Flight into Egypt” evokes a caravan proceeding through the desert on a starry night. “Saint Michael the Archangel” depicts a great battle in the heavens with a dragon. The tranquility of a pre-dawn monastic chant is captured in “The Matins of Santa Chiara.” The namesake of the final movement, “Saint Gregory the Great,” was a sixth-century pope who purportedly originated the liturgical tradition known as Gregorian chant. The principal theme, a chant from the Gloria of the mass, transforms over the course of the movement from a distant echo to a resplendent apotheosis.

Barber, Borne and Respighi notes by Mark Seto

About the Musicians

Musicians are listed in alphabetical order except for string principals.

✣ principal on Barber
✦ principal on Gershwin
♭principal on Borne
♮principal on Respighi

Renée Choi, concertmaster
Charles Loh, assistant concertmaster
Moonhee Kim, principal second violin
April Moon, assistant principal second violin
Eliana Alweis
Mark Appleman
Rebecca Bowers
Athina Chen
Sabrina Chiang
Barron Clancy
Jessica Ding
Ziqi Fang
Pauline Gregory
Elena Hurtado Solberg
Christopher Jeong
Tiger Ji
Isaac Kim
Minchae Kim
Brian Lee
Bryce Li
Owen Lockwood
Meg Lorraine
Grace Ma
Ethan Park
Kyoko Saito
Haley Seo
Michael Sun
Maya Taylor
Ryan Urato
Emily Wang
Daniel Xu
Amy Zhang
Henry Zheng
Lily Zhou

Chloe Kim, principal
Caitlyn Carpenter, assistant principal
Seowon Chang
Chai Harsha
Christopher Hong
Sunny Li
Kieran Lucus
Michael OuYang
Zoë Schwartz
Richard Tang
Annie Wu

Sedong Hwang, principal
Elvin Choi, assistant principal
Lisa (Seo Hyun) Baek
Jimmy Cai
Leeah Chang
Lauren Cho
Aaron Gruen
Nicholas Huang
Austin Jacobson
Avery Maytin
Torben Parker
William Suh
Hannah Zupancic

Tom Gotsch, principal
Camille Donoho, assistant principal
Samuel R. Friday
Seth Heye-Smith

Judy Lee
Erica Sahin
Faith Shim✣♭
Seehanah Tang♮
Chloe Zhao✦

Erica Sahin
Chloe Zhao

Vanessa Chang✣
Junnie Kim
Christopher Lee♭
Anna Ryu♮
Siyuan Su✦

Junnie Kim

Qingyang Cheng✦
Phoebe Hong♭
Yiyun Li♮
James Ro✣

Qingyang Cheng
Yiyun Li

Leo Major

Bryan Kwon✣
Ruth Schlenker✦
Nitin Sreekumar♭

Lizzy Bernold
Milan Capoor
Robin Hwang✦
Brendan McMahon
Zach Potts✣
Mei Tiemeyer♭♮

Alice Cannon♭
Andrew Furst✣
William MacDonald
Chris Shin✦♮

Nicholas Cancellaro♭
David Kamper✣♮
Bradley Smith✦

Collin Brown

Tats Daniel♭
Ryan Sawyer✣♮
Nicholas Vadasz✦

Tats Daniel
Srikrishnan Raju
Ryan Sawyer
Nicholas Vadasz
Austin Xiang

Cosmo Coen

Vatsal Vemuri

Mark Steinbach

David Moon

photo of Mark SteinbachMark Steinbach is University Organist, Curator of Instruments, and Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Music at Brown University, where he teaches applied organ and seminars on topics such as historic performance practices and Olivier Messiaen. Dr. Steinbach concertizes and teaches frequently throughout the United States and Europe. A passionate advocate of both historic and new music, he premiered compositions of Brown University composers Eric Nathan and Wang Lu at Notre-Dame de Paris and Berlin’s Nikolai-kirche in summer 2016. He was in residence at Xi’an Conservatory of Music in Xi’an China in 2018 to teach and perform a solo recital in the new concert hall. His newest album Glass and Bach in Dresden, recorded on Gottfried Silbermann’s magnum opus of 1755 in Dresden, Germany was released in January 2021 on Philip Glass’ label, Orange Mountain Music, available as a CD and on streaming services including Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music and iTunes. He has a forthcoming album, also recorded in Dresden, which will feature music of Bach, Eric Nathan, Wang Lu, Messiaen and Heiller.

Mr. Steinbach has performed for the National Conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, international organ festivals in Berlin, Halle, Dresden, Freiberg Cathedral, Rötha, Görlitz, Weimar and Lüneburg, Germany, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, the International Organ Festival at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, the Aosta, Courmayeur, Bolzano, Storici Organi della Valsesia, and Picena international organ festivals in Italy, and the Audite Organum festival in Prague. He performed the world premiere of Daniel Pinkham’s “Odes” at the American Guild of Organists Regional Convention and the U.S. premiere of Nico Muhly’s “O Antiphon Preludes” at Brown University. Mr. Steinbach has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” performing on the 1640’s English cabinet organ in Wickford, Rhode Island, the oldest church organ in use in the United States. Mr. Steinbach served as Organist and Choirmaster of historic St. Paul’s Church in Wickford, Rhode Island for 23 years, building a substantial multi-generational music program.

Mr. Steinbach earned the bachelor of music degree from the University of Kansas where he studied organ with Jim Higdon. As a Fulbright scholar he studied in Vienna, Austria with Peter Planyavsky. He earned the master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees from The Eastman School of Music where he studied organ with David Craighead and harpsichord with Arthur Haas.

Mr. Steinbach’s critically acclaimed CD Organ Works of Anton Heiller (Loft) and Glass-Bach Dresden have been featured on America Public Media’s Pipedreams and The Organ Loft. Mr. Steinbach has served as adjudicater for organ competitions, including the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition. He has presented a lecture/demonstration on “Healthy Practice Techniques” for the American Guild of Organists National Convention.

photo of Nicholas HuangPraised for his “impressive presence and wondrous playing” (Chicago Libraries), pianist Nicholas Huang strives to challenge the idea that classical music is boring. As a soloist and collaborator, he has performed concerts at renowned venues including Chicago’s Pritzker Auditorium, New York’s Lincoln Center, and the Stern and Weill Halls at Carnegie Hall. Recent engagements include the world-premiere of Martin Loridan’s Prélude et songe at the 2018 Chicago Thirsty Ears Festival, a May 2022 concert of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra in Chicago, and a winning performance at the 2022 Brown University Orchestra concerto competition.

A fourth-year Biology and Music student at Brown, Nicholas studies with Saleem Abboud Ashkar and has participated in masterclasses with esteemed professors Jean-Louis Haguenauer, Christopher Harding, Gregory Sioles, and Daniel Schene. He is co-president of Healing Through Harmony, a volunteer group that provides music for patients and inmates at hospitals, care centers, and prisons. In addition to the piano, Nicholas performs as a cellist in the Brown University Orchestra and chamber music program, and has composed solo and chamber pieces for eminent performers in the Northeast and Midwest. He enjoys cooking, reading, and cycling in his free time.

Reviews of Mr. Huang’s playing:

  • “Yeah, he can definitely hit notes on the keyboard.” - Ryan Sawyer, marimbist
  • “Not bad.” - Aaron Gruen, cellist
  • “So, I just say something good about you, right?” - Anonymous collaborator

photo of Judy LeeJudy Lee is currently a freshman at Brown University studying public health and music. She started playing the flute at age 8, and has pursued her flute career in various international and national competitions, performances, and music exams.

Judy Lee has been recognized in various international competitions. Her greatest achievements include: 1st place in The 6th New York International Music Concours (Edward Braustein New York State Assembly Award & Place Certificate), 1st place in The 3rd Manhattan International Music Competition, 1st place in IMM CONCORSO in Italy 2020, 2nd place in the 3rd Hong Kong International Music Competition, Osaka International Music Competition Espoir Prize (2017), Dulwich International Young Musician of the Year in Shanghai (2016), Vienna Young Musicians Competition Grand Prize (2015), The 2nd Camerata New Jersey International Competition Winner, 1st in the 18th Seoul National University Alumni Music Competition, and many more.

Ranging from London, Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Zhuhai, and Singapore, Judy has participated in multiple student orchestras. Judy has also performed as a soloist with the Orchestra of Camerata New Jersey at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, and as part of the orchestra at the Forbidden City Concert Hall and the Suzhou Culture and Art Center. Furthermore, she has studied for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). In 2017, she achieved the Diploma of The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (DipABRSM) with distinction and in 2018, she achieved the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) with distinction.

photo of Mark SetoMark Seto leads a wide-ranging musical life as a conductor, scholar, teacher, and violinist. He is Director of the Brown University Orchestra and Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Brown University, where he teaches courses in music history, theory, and conducting. He is also Artistic Director and Conductor of The Chelsea Symphony in New York City. 

Since Seto’s tenure with The Chelsea Symphony began in 2011, the ensemble has strengthened its commitment to new music by programming dozens of world premieres and establishing an annual competition for early-career composers; performed at Lincoln Center for the red carpet premiere of Mozart in the Jungle, the Golden Globe-winning Amazon Original series starring Gael García Bernal, Bernadette Peters, and Malcolm McDowell; and established a program to bring music to New York City correctional facilities, including Rikers Island. Recent highlights with The Chelsea Symphony and at Brown include an Earth Day concert at the American Museum of Natural History featuring Become Ocean by Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams, performances of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 in commemoration of Stonewall 50—WorldPride NYC, and collaborations with violinist Jennifer Koh and composer/pianist Vijay Iyer.

Seto's research as a musicologist explores issues of influence, nationalism, and cultural identity in fin-de-siècle Paris. His articles and reviews have been published in 19th-Century Music (University of California Press), Nineteenth-Century Choral Music (Routledge, 2013), Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press), Current Musicology, and Nineteenth-Century French Studies. Working from manuscript sources in Paris, Seto prepared performance materials and conducted the western hemisphere premiere of La Nuit et l’amour by Augusta Holmès, one of the most significant women composers of the French Third Republic.

Seto holds a BA in Music from Yale University and an MA, MPhil, and PhD in Historical Musicology from Columbia University. He studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine, where he served as an assistant to music director Michael Jinbo for two seasons. His conducting teachers include Lawrence Leighton Smith and Shinik Hahm, and he has participated in workshops with Kenneth Kiesler, Daniel Lewis, Donald Portnoy, Donald Thulean, and Paul Vermel. He is a recipient of the Yale Friends of Music Prize and has been honored with an ASCAP Morton Gould award.

The origins of the Brown University Orchestra date back at least to 1858, the year a “Grand Concert…accompanied by the Orchestra of Brown University” took place in Seekonk, Massachusetts. The modern era of the BUO began in the winter of 1919, when the College Orchestra was established. Renamed the Brown-Pembroke Orchestra in 1940, it became the Brown University Orchestra in 1953. The orchestra’s current membership consists of approximately 100 student musicians from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. The BUO has given concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, toured China and Ireland, and performed with such renowned soloists as Itzhak Perlman, Navah Perlman ’92, Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Christopher O’Riley, Eugenia Zukerman, Pinchas Zukerman, Dave Brubeck, and Jennifer Koh. In 2006 Daniel Barenboim conducted the BUO during the first of his two residencies with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The BUO has hosted Samuel Adler, Lukas Foss, Steve Reich, Steven Stucky, Joseph Schwantner, Michael Torke, Peter Boyer, Nico Muhly, Joan Tower, John Harbison, Vijay Iyer, and other distinguished composers-in-residence, and won 7 ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. BUO alumni include current and former members of the Cleveland Orchestra, New World Symphony, Nashville Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and Opera, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

In the fall of 2014, the BUO recorded two compact discs for Naxos: Manhattan Intermezzo, featuring pianist Jeffrey Biegel playing works for piano and orchestra by Neil Sedaka, Keith Emerson, Duke Ellington, and George Gershwin; and Anthony Burgess: Orchestral Music, the first recording of orchestral works by the famed British composer-novelist. Both CDs were released in 2016, receiving rave reviews internationally. In March 2016, Manhattan Intermezzo topped the classical charts as the No. 1 best-selling Naxos recording worldwide.

About the Sayles Hall Organ

The Sayles Hall Organ was a gift in 1903 of Lucian Sharpe (class of 1893) in memory of his parents. The Latin inscription on the organ’s oak case reads,“Parentibus et Academiae Pignus Pietatis” or “to (my) parents and the academy, a token of devotion.” For many years, the student body had been extremely vocal about wanting a pipe organ. In his annual report of 1902, President Faunce referred to a new organ for Sayles Hall as “one of our greatest small needs.” Following the lead of Symphony Hall in Boston, Vassar and Yale, the University contracted with the Hutchings-Votey Company of Boston. To receive the organ, which weighed about 25 tons, the old gallery in Sayles Hall was replaced by a new one with a projecting center, under the direction of architects Stone, Carpenter, and Willson. The Hutchings-Votey Organhas three manuals, with fifty-one speaking stops, more than three thousand pipes, wind reservoirs,and over on hundred miles of wiring. The swell and choir organs are enclosed in separate swell boxes.

At Commencement in June 1903, the opening recital was performed by eminent Belgian organist Chevalier Auguste Wiengand, who was then the Sydney Town Hall Organist. In 1924, Mrs. Lownes endowed an annual organ recital known as “Edgar J. Lownes Memory Day,” a memorial to her late husband. In 1949, the organ received its first complete renovation,which involved the installation of a new console designed by the Schantz Organ Company. The organ fell into a state of disrepair in the 1980’s after hurricane water damage. The latest renovation of the instrument was undertaken in 1990 by the Potter-Rathburn Organ Company of Cranston, RI. By the 1950’s, the trend of much of the organ world was the replace, rather than restore or repair, and many fine instruments were lost. Fortunately the Brown organ is still sounding forth and is now the largest remaining Hutchings-Votey organ.

Adapted from Encyclopaedia Brunonia, Martha Mitchell, and the Brown Alumni Monthly