Small curtis Varèse: Octandre

Performances | Lydia Roth, Flute / Sarah Tako, Bassoon / Eric Huckins, French Horn / Alexander Greene, Trumpet / Samuel Casseday, Double Bass / Alexander Walden, Trombone / William Welter, Oboe / Slavko Popovic, Clarinet / Christoph Eschenbach, Conductor

Drawing its name from the word for a flower with eight stamens, Edgard Varèse’s Octandre is composed for an eclectic group of eight players, including three brass instruments, four woodwind instruments, and double bass. In fact, eight players would turn out to be one of the smallest ensembles for which Varèse ever wrote a completed work, but his trademark technique of meticulously arranging layers of sound would not suffer for a lack of forces. Octandre quickly traverses the full spectrum of musical expression in its first movement (Assez lent), growing from the intimate oboe solo that begins the work up into brash, rhythmically complex statements led by the brass, whose power belies the small size of the ensemble. The central movement (Très vif et nerveux) juxtaposes the whistling low tones of the piccolo with the piercing high register of the clarinet, before giving way to music that features striking contrasts between all of the instruments in the ensemble. The final movement (Grave) begins somberly before accelerating into a contrapuntal finale that again conveys surprising power from this unorthodox octet. Octandre was premiered in 1924, and shares its birth year with the Curtis Institute of Music. Octandre and other works from this era were performed throughout the 2014–15 season in celebration of Curtis’ 90th anniversary.

Edgard Varèse


Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Trombone, Double Bass, and French Horn

Recorded Date: 15-05-2015

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Lydia Roth

Lydia Roth is a classical flutist from West Michigan. Currently she is enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she is a student of Jeffrey Khaner. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full-tuition scholarships, and Lydia is the Edwin B. Garrigues Annual Fellow.

A prizewinner in many competitions, Lydia has appeared twice in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall as a first prize winner of the Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition. She also was nominated winner of the state-wide Michigan Youth Arts Festival solo competition. Additionally, she has won a myriad of local competitions in cities including Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo. Most recently, she was a YoungArts National Winner in 2014.

Lydia has had orchestral experience with the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and now as a member of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. She has also participated in chamber groups from the traditional quintet to more exotic groupings, even once performing as the pianist in a piano trio.

While in high school, Lydia studied with Christopher Kantner, principal flutist of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and she had previously studied with Anne Crans. She participated in the MPulse Flute Institute, the Skidmore Flute Institute, and the Curtis Summerfest Jeffrey Khaner Flute Class. In addition, she has taken single lessons with a number of teachers, including Carol Wincenc, Jeanne Baxtresser, Joshua Smith, and Leone Buyse.

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Sarah Tako

Sarah Tako graduated from Mahtomedi High School in 2013. She also attended the University of Minnesota’s School of Music during her junior and senior years of high school, where she studied with John Miller and Norbert Nielubowski. Sarah was a member of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies for seven seasons and recently performed Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major with the MYS Symphony Orchestra. In November of 2013, she also performed the Mozart concerto with the Edmonton Symphony in Alberta, Canada, as a part of an all-Mozart concert series. In addition to bassoon, Sarah enjoys playing the piano, studying music theory, and teaching both bassoon and piano lessons. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dogs, biking, and listening to an eclectic variety of music. Sarah is currently studying bassoon performance at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Eric Huckins
French Horn

Alexander Greene

Alexander R. Greene, 23, a promising Curtis Institute of Music trumpet student who made an impression as both charmer and role model, died Monday afternoon, Aug. 24, in an auto accident about 11 miles northwest of Farson, Wyo., along with his traveling companion, tuba player Benjamin K. Darneille, 21.

The two were on their way to Jackson, Wyo., after spending eight weeks at the Aspen Music Festival, where their brass quintet, formed at Curtis, had a summer residency. Their car, traveling in the wrong lane, collided with an oncoming truck; its driver was treated at a local hospital, said a spokesman for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Mr. Greene would have been beginning his second year at Curtis in pursuit of an artist diploma.

"He was a fine trumpet player, but a finer human being - an absolute joy to have around," said David Bilger, his trumpet teacher at Curtis. "He had this wit that was unbelievable, and was relentlessly positive. Like a lot of students when they get to Curtis, he questioned whether he had the goods to become a professional, but that was more because he was humble in spirit. I had no concerns, and after a while he realized he had some special things to offer."

Listeners last Wednesday at Aspen might have agreed. Mr. Greene made a strong impression with the Aspen Philharmonic in Mahler's Symphony No. 5, with its famously strident - and infamously exposed - solos. "I remember listening and thinking, 'Wow, what an amazing talent,' " said festival president Alan Fletcher. "He totally carried the performance."

Aspen names one student brass quintet each year, and this year chose Mr. Greene's ensemble. Darneille, from Rochester, Ill., joined the Rendezvous Brass Quintet when the regular Curtis tuba player wasn't able to attend.

Mr. Greene grew up in Orlando and began trumpet studies in the sixth grade. He was a popular presence at Curtis, where arriving students were stunned to learn of his death. "He was very down to earth, very positive, very energetic," said Curtis president Roberto Díaz. "The minute he arrived, he parked himself down in [the dean's] office and said, 'I want to start a quintet, I want to start a new-music group, I want to do this, I want to do that.' He was very focused on the future."

Somewhat more experienced than other students - he already had a degree from DePaul University - he quickly became a role model. "His energy and work ethic started to rub off on some of the younger students," said Díaz.

Horn player Eric Huckins, a fellow brass quintet member starting his fifth year at Curtis, said that last Wednesday's Mahler left players calling Mr. Greene "Alex Herseth" - a portmanteau referring to Adolph Sylvester "Bud" Herseth, late principal trumpeter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Among those in the audience were his parents, Robert and Sheryl.

"It was honestly some of the best playing I heard from him ever," said Huckins, "and it was his first time playing the piece. . . . It was spectacular. He had that principal trumpet sound, and I have no doubt he was going to get a principal job in a major orchestra. The brilliance and life would carry to the back row."

Samuel Casseday
Double Bass

Sam comes from Jacksonville, Florida where he attends the Douglas Anderson School for the Arts. His parents are both professional musicians and Sam started studying music at the age of three on a half-sized cello. He is a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Chamber Orchestra. Sam has attended the Brevard Music Center and has also taken master classes with Frank Proto. He was a finalist in From the Top and Carnegie Hall’s YouTube contest this past December. When he’s not practicing, Sam enjoys reading and sports, especially ultimate frisbee and water skiing.

Alexander Walden

Alexander Walden is currently a Trombone student studying with Nitzan Haroz at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA. Alex started music through the public school system with the Viola while in elementary school, but when he reached middle school he began taking lessons on the Trombone, which he quickly fell in love with. Durning Alex's time in high school he was introduced to the Interlochen Arts Camp where he spent two summers and his senior year graduating in 2010 with a Fine Arts Award in Trombone performance. A winner of the 2010 Eastern Trombone Workshop solo competition, Youngarts level 2 award winner, and Interlochen Arts Camp Emerson scholarship, Alex hopes to someday become an active chamber/solo musician with a big influence on Renaissance and Baroque music

Hobbies: Read and listen to lots of different kinds of music.

Favorite composer: Depends on the day..

Favorite brass quintet piece: Suite from the Monteregian Hills

Favorite brass recording: Alain Trudel, Trombone Concerti. I don't know what it is about it, but Mr. Trudel makes the instrument sing like nothing i've heard before.

In my playlist: liederkreis, Franz Wunderlich - Tenor

William Welter

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Slavko Popovic

Three hours a day of practice have paid off for Slavko Popovic. The 17-year-old Hamilton clarinetist, in his final year at Westdale Secondary, has been awarded a full-tuition scholarship toward an undergraduate degree at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

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Christoph Eschenbach

In demand as a distinguished guest conductor with the finest orchestras and opera houses throughout the world, Christoph Eschenbach began his tenure in September 2010 as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra as well as Music Director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

As a pianist, he continues his fruitful collaboration with baritone Matthias Goerne. The duo has recorded Schubert's three song cycles—“Die Schöne Müllerin,” “Die Winterreise,” and “Schwanengesang”—for the Harmonia Mundi label.

Mentored by George Szell and Herbert von Karajan, Mr. Eschenbach held the posts of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra from 1982 to 1986, Music Director of the Houston Symphony from 1988 to 1999, Music Director of the Ravinia Festival from 1994 to 2003, and Artistic Director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival from 1999 to 2002. His many honors include the Légion d’Honneur; Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; the Officer's Cross with Star and Ribbon of the German Order of Merit; and the Commander's Cross of the German Order of Merit for outstanding achievements as pianist and conductor. He also received the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Pacific Music Festival, where he was co-artistic director from 1992 to 1998.