April 8, 2015 --
The Marine Chamber Orchestra’s performance on Sunday may be its first at Howard Community College but for the soloist it is a homecoming. Howard County resident and violin player Staff Sgt. Sheng-Tsung Wang will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K. 216 under the baton of Assistant Director 1st Lt. Ryan J. Nowlin. The program, called “State of the Art,” will also feature Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D, Opus 36.
Over the years, Wang has performed many outreach concerts and conducted master classes at Howard County public and private schools with different Marine chamber ensembles. However, this solo performance will be his first as a member of the Marine Chamber Orchestra near his hometown. “Since this area hosts a number of prominent concert series which feature many world-famous artists, there are many knowledgeable music-lovers and talented student musicians here,” Wang said. “I think it’ll be wonderful and exciting to showcase the Marine Chamber Orchestra in front of such an informed and appreciative audience.”
Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G major is the third of his five violin concertos. He composed all of them within a few months in 1775, at the age of 19. The first movement opens with a stately theme intertwined with playful melodic and rhythmic elements. In the Adagio second movement, the solo violin melody often soars above a constant murmuring of the muted orchestra. The Rondo final movement is full of joy and dance-like energy. A contrasting section in minor appears halfway through the movement, and is followed by a jaunty and rustic section reminiscent of the first movement of “Autumn” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” The concerto closes not with the usual finality of loud and huge chords, but rather with a charming and gentle fade in the winds and horns.
“Sheng sounds terrific,” Nowlin said. “The concerto allows for several creative and sometimes extended cadenzas. He has chosen very insightful and imaginative reinventions of thematic material, which avid fans of Mozart will undoubtedly appreciate.”
Wang said he has always marveled at soloists who write and perform their own cadenzas. After learning and teaching the same printed cadenzas for so long, he decided a few weeks ago to compose his own. “I didn’t have much, if any, prior experience with composition or improvisation,” Wang said, “but once I took that leap of faith, kernels of musical ideas began to pop into my head. I’m hoping that my cadenzas will not only enhance my interpretation of the concerto, but also offer a more refreshing and unique listening experience for the audience.”
Although he had only performed the first movement of the concerto with piano accompaniment as a child, he has gone on to teach the entire piece, all three movements, to his students. But when he was given the opportunity to perform the entire concerto as a soloist, it dawned on him that this would be his first time performing it with an orchestra. “My favorite part of the piece has to be the Adagio second movement,” Wang said. “It reminds me of the enchanting and delicate sounds from a music box. Musicologist Alfred Einstein said it best, describing the middle movement as ‘an Adagio that seems to have fallen straight from heaven.’”
“It is always a joy for me to perform Mozart’s music,” Wang continued. “However, it’s also a challenge to do it well because his compositions are so exquisite and transparent. In my research and preparation of this concerto, I was constantly reminded of how good of a violinist Mozart was by his creative and effective bowings and articulation.”
Nowlin enjoys the pairing of Mozart’s third violin concerto and Beethoven’s second symphony from a compositional perspective. “In each piece’s final movement, the composers seemed to simply have fun— writing without feeling the constraint of the formalized genre. For me, it is an important glimpse of the fact that these musical titans were also people too.”
The performance will take place at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 12 at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, Md. All tickets have been distributed for this performance; patrons without tickets are encouraged to use the standby line in the lobby. Please call (443) 518-1500 or visit howardcc.edu/concerts. Free parking is available.
Program and notes