6: Pre-concert blog: Family Connections

man leaping behind cello

Juno Orchestra enters its third season with an exploration entitled “Family Connections.” Alongside works rising out of well-known musical households (like Bach and Mozart), Juno introduces a newly commissioned work from a local household, a work by local composer Stan Charkey.

‘J/J’, for cello and string orchestra, will feature soloist Jacob Charkey, Stan’s son. “I wanted to write a piece for Jake that connects to his experiences in both the western and Indian traditions. It’s called J/J for Jake and Juno.” Composer Stan Charkey taught at Marlboro College for many years.

Jacob Charkey got his earliest musical training in Brattleboro starting with the violin for a year. “After a year of screeching cacophony, my father mercifully gave me a cello to try,” recalled Jacob. Read Jacob’s bio.

Aligning with Juno’s goals, we are getting a delightful twofer for this program. Not only did our soloist, Jake, get his early musical training in Brattleboro (he started cello under Zon Eastes), but Juno advances the goal of commissioning new works for chamber orchestra, this one by Stan Charkey.

Composer Stan Charkey, long-time professor of music at Marlboro College, is a recipient of awards for composition from the Renée B. Fisher Foundation and Vermont Music Teachers Association as well as fellowships at the Ragdale Arts Foundation and the Kimmel-Harding Center For the Arts. His compositions include commissions for a variety of ensembles and musicians, including the Apple Hill Chamber Players, cellist Paul Cohen, pianists Luis Batlle and Michael Arnowitt, violist Michael Tree and of course his son, cellist Jake Charkey.

Stan spoke about the project, “I hope the orchestra likes the piece. I hope the audience likes it, too. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written.” Juno is pleased indeed to work with Stan and Jake on this project. This new work blends western and Indian elements in quite a striking way. Part Dvořák, part improvisation, the piece is built on principles of harmonic balance that allow for remarkable flexibility within a unified context. The work is entirely accessible. The central portion of the piece calls for an extended improvised cadenza inspired by Indian ragas. Stan quipped, “Who knows what Jake will do?”

In addition to the Charkey family connection, Juno’s upcoming program includes an instrumental Sinfonia by J.S. Bach, this one from Cantata 174. In a singularly superhuman, six-year outburst, Johann Sebastian  Bach composed and produced a new cantata every Sunday. Every single Sunday! And this was just one of a number of duties he had while music director at St. Thomas in Leipzig. On some Sundays, his choir got a break from performance, so Bach would supply an orchestral piece to open a cantata. And many times, Bach reworked earlier compositions to fit the occasion. Wait till you hear this particular Sinfonia!

Juno will likewise visit the Mozart family by way of a work from 16-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus, his delightful Divertimento in F Major, K. 138. There is evidence that young Wolfgang penned three works (Juno performs the third of the set) as his first attempts at ‘publishable’ string quartets, but his helicopter father selected the moniker ‘Divertimenti’ instead. Whatever, dad. The three works are brief, delightful, and expressive. The final movement of the F Major is about as clicky as it gets.

Edward Elgar, English composer, grew up in an arts-favorable family. His father was a piano tuner and his mother saw to her children’s musical studies–Elgar was the fourth of seven children. He composed the Serenade while in his mid-30s. Its intimacy and brevity are positively charming, while its depth and directness characterize the mature Elgar. Think on beyond Pomp and Circumstance.

Continuing with Juno’s exploration of the middle Haydn symphonies (those composed about the same times as the American Revolution), Juno will feature Symphony No. 46 in B Major. Whenever one talks about these Sturm und Drang symphonies, one repeats words like unexpected, cascading, quirky, bedazzling. Haydn surely had a sturdy set of compositional tools that allowed him remarkable, but always recognizable freedom to express his wit, his imagination, and his unwavering respect for his discipline. Symphony No. 46 is no exception.

Concerts take place on Saturday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 8 at 4 p.m. at the Brattleboro Music Center, Brattleboro, Vermont. Tickets range in price from $10 to $40, and can be purchased by calling the BMC, 802.257.4523.

Juno Orchestra is in residence at the Brattleboro Music Center. These concerts are supported in part by grants from the Crosby Gannett and Dunham Mason Funds at the Vermont Community Foundation. We are grateful indeed for their curiosity and investment.

For more information, visit www.junoorchestra.org or call 802.380.9550.

# # #

Saturday, September 7, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 8, 4 p.m.
Brattleboro Music Center, 72 Blanche Moyse Way, Brattleboro

Stan Charkey, J/J 
J.S. Bach
, Sinfonia from Cantata 147
W.A. Mozart, Divertimento in F Major, K. 138
Edward Elgar, Serenade, Op. 20
Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony No. 46 in B Major

$40, $20, $10. Available 802.257.4523 or onlinehttps://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=bmcvt

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