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HHO Webmaster, Cellist

Winter Concert, February 15, 2024

HART HOUSE ORCHESTRA
Henry Janzen, Principal Conductor & Music Director
WINTER CONCERT
Thursday, February 15th, 2024
Hart House Great Hall
University of Toronto


Overture to “Benvenuto Cellini”
Hector Berlioz

Concerto No. 2 for Clarinet, in E-flat major, Op. 74
Carl Maria von Weber

  1. Allegro
  2. Romanze: Andante con moto
  3. Alla Polacca

with Clarinet soloist Sean Lin

INTERMISSION —

Variations on an Original Theme, op.36 (Enigma Variations)
Sir Edward Elgar

Theme (Enigma: Andante)
Variation I (L’istesso tempo) “C.A.E.”
Variation II (Allegro) “H.D.S-P.”
Variation III (Allegretto) “R.B.T.”
Variation IV (Allegro di molto) “W.M.B.”
Variation V (Moderato) “R.P.A.”
Variation VI (Andantino) “Ysobel”
Variation VII (Presto) “Troyte”
Variation VIII (Allegretto) “W.N.”
Variation IX (Adagio) “Nimrod”
Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) “Dorabella”
Variation XI (Allegro di molto) “G.R.S.”
Variation XII (Andante) “B.G.N.”
Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) ” * * * “
Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro) “E.D.U.”

Members of the Hart House Orchestra


Hector Berlioz: Overture to the opera Benvenuto Cellini

Orchestration: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, cymbals, triangle, bass drum, and strings. Performance time: approximately 11 minutes.

Even though Berlioz claimed to detest Italian music, some of his best compositions were inspired by the 15 months that he spent in Italy as the recipient of the prestigious Prix de Rome awarded by the French Academy of Arts to arts students. He loved the people and their culture, the sunny landscapes, the enticing way of life.

One of the works directly inspired by his stay in Italy is his first opera Benvenuto Cellini, on which he stated to work in 1834, a couple of years after his return to France. The opera is very loosely based on the memoirs of the 16th century Florentine sculptor, goldsmith and musician Benvenuto Cellini. (Berlioz privately identified with Cellini’s artist-hero personality).

The opera was a failure redeemed by some dazzling – though apparently bewilderingly modern – music. It closed after three performances, was performed only three times during the composer’s lifetime, and has been very rarely performed ever since. The only fragment of the opera that was a success from the get-go was the rousing, crowd-pleasing overture, which quickly became a favourite in the orchestral repertoire. Berlioz recalled that the overture was as enthusiastically applauded, as the rest of the opera was hissed.

The overture to Benvenuto Cellini is a mini-drama in itself. It begins with a spirited fanfare, and, in the span of some ten minutes, encompasses music of solemnity, lyricism, passion (recalling Cellini’s love for his fiancée Teresa), and sure-fire orchestral brilliance.

Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat, op.74

Orchestration: solo clarinet, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings. Performance time: approximately 23 minutes

It is an interesting coincidence that both Weber and Mozart (who also happened to be cousins-in-law, although Weber was 30 years younger) composed masterpieces for the clarinet inspired by their warm friendship with virtuosos of the instrument: Anton Stadler, in Mozart’s case, Heinrich Joseph Baermann, principal clarinetist of the Munich court orchestra, in Weber’s case.

Weber is best known for his opera Der Freischütz, which is considered the first German romantic opera. Although he composed a great variety of instrumental music, including symphonies and piano concertos, it is only his concerti for clarinet that entered the repertoire. Weber’s contributions to the clarinet include also a concertino, a set of variations, a quintet and a grand duo, but none of them attained the popularity of the concertos.

The Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat, was composed and premiered in 1811, with Baermann, the dedicatee playing the solo clarinet. According to the composer’s diary, Baermann “played in a heavenly manner” and the work was greeted with “frantic applause.”

The mechanics of the clarinet developed a good deal further in the quarter century between Mozart’s time and 1811, when Weber first met Baermann. That allowed Weber to explore a much wider expressive range, and to highlight the romantic aspects of the instrument. Among the special features of this concerto are the many dramatic contrasts between the instrument’s brilliant high notes and the dark, rich sonority of the lower range.

The first movement of the E-flat Concerto (Allegro) is in a traditional sonata form. After a majestic orchestral introduction the clarinet makes a dramatic entrance with a three-octave leap from high to low, and then immediately rebounding back. The second movement (Romanze) is operatic on character: in the second half of that movement, the clarinet could be mistaken for a vocal solo, with the orchestra playing short chords in the manner of recitativo secco, as used by Mozart in his operas. The rondo finale (Alla polacca) makes use of a polonaise rhythm, and becomes ever more virtuosic for the soloist as it unfolds with an especially brilliant conclusion.

Edward Elgar: Variations on an Original Theme, op.36 (Enigma Variations)

Orchestration: 2 flutes (second doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, triangle, bass drum, cymbals, organ ad libitum, and strings. Performance time: approximately 30 minutes

The genesis of Elgar’s Enigma variations is one of the most moving and heart-warming stories in the history of classical music: On an October day in 1898, Elgar came home after a long day teaching. After dinner, in order to relax, he sat down at the piano to doodle.

Elgar later recalled what happened next. 

“…I began to play, and suddenly my wife interrupted by saying: ‘Edward, that’s a good tune.’ I awoke from the dream. ‘Eh! Tune, what tune!’ And she said, ‘Play it again, I like that tune.’ I played and strummed, and played, then she exclaimed: ‘That’s the tune.’ The voice of my wife asked with a sound of approval, ‘What is that?’ I answered, ‘Nothing – but something might be made of it.’”

Just for fun, Elgar stared to toy with the tune, trying to make musical caricatures of some of his friends, and trying them on his wife Alice, to see if she could guess the subject. Soon enough, out of that spontaneous exchange grew the serious idea of a set of orchestral variations.

The Variations were composed in 1898 and 1899. They were dedicated “…to my friends pictured within” and given the title “Variations on an original theme, Op.36”.

The first performance, conducted in London by Hans Richter, took place on 19 June 1899, but it was not until 13 September in Worcester, however, that the Variations were heard in their final form after Elgar had added a further 100 bars to the end of “E.D.U.” to make a more powerful conclusion. The reception was enthusiastic and it propelled Elgar to fame.

In all, fourteen people and a dog are featured in the variations:

Variation I – C.A.E.:

Elgar’s wife, Alice, lovingly portrayed.

Variation II – H.D.S-P.:

Hew David Steuart-Powell, a pianist with whom Elgar played in chamber ensembles.

Variation III – R.B.T.:

Richard Baxter Townshend, a friend whose caricature of an old man in an amateur theatre production is captured in the variation.

Variation IV – W.M.B.:

William Meath Baker, ‘country squire, gentleman and scholar’, informing his guests of the day’s arrangements.

Variation V- R.P.A.:

Richard Arnold, son of the poet Matthew Arnold.

Variation VI – Ysobel:

Isabel Fitton, an amateur viola player from a musical family living in Malvern.

Variation VII – Troyte:

Arthur Troyte Griffith, a Malvern architect and close friend of Elgar throughout their lives – the variation focuses on Troyte’s limited abilities as a pianist.

Variation VIII – W.N.:

Winifred Norbury, known to Elgar through her association with the Worcestershire Philharmonic Society – the variation captures both her laugh and the atmosphere of her eighteenth century house.

Variation IX – Nimrod:

A J Jaeger, Elgar’s great friend whose encouragement did much to keep Elgar going during the period when he was struggling to secure a lasting recognition. “Jaeger” is the German for “hunter,” and Nimrod is the “mighty hunter” mentioned in the book of Genesis. Nimrod is the most beloved of the variations. It has become popular in its own right and is sometimes used at solemn occasions. It is always played at the London Cenotaph as part of the Service of Remembrance; it was also played at Princess Diana’s funeral.

Variation X – Dorabella:

Dora Penney, daughter of the Rector of Wolverhampton and a close friend of the Elgars. The music suggests the stammer with which she spoke in her youth.

Variation XI – G.R.S.:

George Sinclair, organist at Hereford Cathedral, although the variation allegedly portrays Sinclair’s bulldog Dan paddling in the River Wye after falling in.

Variation XII – B.G.N.:

Basil Nevinson, an amateur cellist who, with Elgar and Hew Steuart-Powell, completed the chamber music trio.

Variation XIII – ***:

Probably Lady Mary Lygon, a local noblewoman who sailed for Australia at about the time Elgar wrote the variation, which quotes from Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

Variation XIV – E.D.U.:

Elgar himself, Edoo being Alice’s pet name for him. It echoes themes from two variations: “C.A.E.” and “Nimrod” referring to his wife Alice and his friend Jaeger, which Elgar acknowledged to be the greatest influences on his life and art.

But what about the Enigma? The word “Enigma”, serving as a title for the theme of the Variations, was added to the score at a late stage, after the manuscript had been delivered to the publisher. In a letter to Jaeger, Elgar associated the Enigma with the theme of the variations, but hinted that the actual theme is never heard:

“The enigma I will not explain—its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the apparent connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes,’ but is not played—so the principal Theme never appears. . . .”

He also hinted that the Enigma was a familiar tune.

Not surprisingly, this unleashed a storm of speculations as to what the Enigma theme is. A number of tunes have bee proposed including, but not limited to: Auld Lang Syne (forcefully rejected by the composer), Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Rule Britannia, the slow movement of Mozart’s Prague symphony, and the slow movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique piano sonata.

However, there is no convincing solution to the puzzle, and it will continue to be subject of scholarly papers and doctoral dissertations. Probably only Elgar’s wife Alice and his friend Jaeger knew the secret – if, indeed, there was one. It is quite possible that this was one of Elgar’s practical jokes, and that there is no tune. It seems, though, that the Enigma theme will remain forever unguessed, just as the composer intended.


Donations can be made online here. Thank you for your kind support!

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Sean Lin, Clarinet

Sean Lin is a freelance clarinetist and performer based in the Greater Toronto Area. While not a musician by trade, Sean has been playing the clarinet for nearly 20 years and is highly active in the community music scene in Toronto. Though largely self-taught, Sean’s learnings with esteemed pedagogues Richard Thomson, Susan Barber-Kahro, and Le Lu have been invaluable. Ensembles that Sean has played with include the Toronto Sinfonietta, Greater Toronto Philharmonic, Rosedale Symphony, and the Hart House Symphonic Band (in which he previously played as principal clarinet for over 10 years). Sean has also participated in the community program of the Toronto Summer Music Festival, where he performed with Gabriel Radford and Michael Chiarello of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In addition to orchestral playing, Sean is also an avid chamber musician who often performs in chamber groups at recital series such as OpenScore and Appassionata at the University of Toronto.

Sean joined the Hart House Orchestra in 2018 and has been serving as principal clarinet since 2022. As the winner of the 2023 Concerto Competition, Sean is thrilled to be playing Weber’s 2nd Clarinet Concerto with the group in his first ever performance of a full-length concerto.

Apart from music, Sean’s other hobbies include photography, tennis, and skating. Sean graduated from the University of Toronto with an M.Eng and BASc in mechanical engineering, and currently works as a data analyst at Loblaws, making bank for Mr. Bank.

2023 – 2024 Season

Winter Concert – Ottawa

St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe, 7:30pm, Saturday, February 17, 2024
Hector Berlioz – Overture to “Benvenuto Cellini”
Carl Maria von Weber – Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Op. 74
Sean Lin – clarinet
Camille Saint-Saëns – Symphony No. 3 “Organ Symphony” in C minor Op. 78

Winter Concert – Toronto

Great Hall 8pm, Thursday, February 15, 2024
Hector Berlioz – Overture to “Benvenuto Cellini”
Carl Maria von Weber – Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Op. 74
Sean Lin – clarinet
Edward Elgar – Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma” Op. 36

Program Notes (PDF)

Fall Concert

Great Hall 3pm, Sunday, November 19, 2023
Gustav Mahler – Symphony No.3
Mila Ionkova – mezzo-soprano
Hart House Singers
Young Voices Toronto

Program Notes (PDF)

Donations can be made online here. Thank you for your kind support!

Donate

SUMMER CONCERT June 5, 2022

June 5, 2022, Sunday 3pm
Great Hall, Hart House

MENDELSSOHN – Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage
BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”

Program Notes

Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
Henry Janzen, Principal Conductor and Music Director

This concert marks our first in over two years since the beginning of lock down. It is hard to believe our last concert was in London, Ontario in February of 2020. Getting together starting earlier this year to rehearse again has been a delight, and we look forward to sharing live music with you!

For the concert, all Hart House entrances not blocked by construction will be open for audience members. Per Hart House policies, no screening protocols will be enforced, but please wear a mask at all times on the premises.

Tchaikovsky & Nielsen

15 November 2018, Thursday at 8pm
Great Hall, Hart House

Berlioz – Benvenuto Cellini Overture
Yuang Chen – Danse Sibérienne
Carl Nielsen – Flute Concerto
Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1

Gabriel Quenneville-Belair, Piano
Vincenzo Volpe, Flute

Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director
Eszter Horváth, Assistant Conductor

Admission: Donate what you can at the door or please consider donating online in support of a wide range of the orchestra’s activities. Thank you.

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Concert Programme

 

 

Rachmaninoff & Sorcerer’s Apprentice

13 May 2018, Sunday at 4pm
Great Hall, Hart House

Dukas – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1897)
Whittington – Across This Land (2015)
Sergei Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 (1901)

Soo Jin Chung, Pianist

Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director
Eszter Horváth, Assistant Conductor

Admission: Donate what you can at the door or please consider donating online in support of a wide range of the orchestra’s activities. Thank you.

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Hart House Orchestra in Ottawa

17 February 2018, Saturday at 8pm
St. Joseph’s Church, Ottawa

Arnold Bax – The Garden of Fand (1916)
Sergei Prokofiev – War and Peace (Orchestral Suite), op. 91 (1942)
Max Bruch – Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 (1880)

Buon Park, Violinist

Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director
Eszter Horváth, Assistant Conductor

This special benefit concert is presented by Centre 454, a day program serving people who are precariously housed or homeless in the Ottawa area by providing assistance in the form of support services, social recreation, and essential needs. Bring your family and friends for an evening of classical music, while supporting the work of Centre 454 to build community for those without it this season.

For ticketing information please visit: [ Tickets Online ]

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Centre 454

The Orchestra

Since 1976, the Hart House Orchestra has provided an opportunity for musical fellowship among members of the University of Toronto community with training and interest in performing symphonic works. The Orchestra is based in Hart House, a unique cultural and recreational centre at the heart of the University of Toronto, at the St. George campus.  Membership is determined annually by audition, which is open to university students at all levels of study, alumni, faculty, staff and Hart House senior members. The Orchestra rehearses in the Great Hall at Hart House, a famous concert venue in the city of Toronto, where regular musical events are presented featuring world class musicians.

In a typical season the HHO performs three concerts in the Great Hall and one concert in another city in Ontario, Quebec or the northern United States in co-operation with a not-for-profit community organization or in exchange with another ensemble. In February 2017 the HHO performed for the first time at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Other fundraising partnerships include MAB-MacKay Foundation in Montreal and the Canadian Diabetes Association in Kingston.

Prokofiev and Bruch

15 February 2018, Thursday at 8pm
Great Hall, Hart House

Arnold Bax – The Garden of Fand (1916)
Sergei Prokofiev – War and Peace (Orchestral Suite), op. 91 (1942)
Max Bruch – Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 (1880)

Buon Park, Violinist

Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director
Eszter Horváth, Assistant Conductor

Admission: Donate what you can at the door or please consider donating online in support of a wide range of the orchestra’s activities.  Thank you.

Donate

Mahler 6

Mahler 6

23 November 2017, Thursday at 8pm

Great Hall, Hart House

Mahler – Symphony No. 6 in A minor

  1. Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig.
  2. Andante moderato
  3. Scherzo: Wuchtig
  4. Finale: Sostenuto – Allegro moderato – Allegro energico

Performers:

  • Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
  • Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director

Admission: Donate what you can at the door

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Holst: The Planets

The Planets, a Musical Odyssey of Evolution, Environment and Exploration

Sunday 29 October 2017 at 3pm

Great Hall, Hart House

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“Explore the mystic and the scientific in this unique presentation, in which the Hart House Orchestra plays excerpts from Holst’s The Planets, interspersed with talks about planetary science in 2017.”– Hart House

Speakers

  • Dr. Alan Jackson, University of Toronto, Centre for Planetary Sciences
  • Dr. Matt Russo, University of Toronto Centre for Theoretical Astrophysics

Program

  • Gustav Holst – The Planets, Op. 32 (1914-1916)

Performers

  • Hart House Orchestra, University of Toronto
  • Henry Janzen, Conductor and Music Director

Eventbrite

This is a free concert presented in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience). Registration is required for entry to the event.  Please register for free at our Eventbrite page.