Young Artists Series

Saturday, February 4, 2023 7pm
St Mary Magdalen Church
25 N Las Posas Rd, Camarillo, CA 93010

Sunday, February 5, 2023 3pm
First United Methodist Church of Ventura
1338 E Santa Clara St, Ventura, CA 93003

$20 suggested donation at the door (no pre-sale)

Program Notes

Luigi Boccherini
Symphony (Overture) in D major

With over 500 compositions to his name, including 200 string quartets and quintets, 30 symphonies, and 30 cello sonatas and concertos, Luigi Boccherini was one of the most prolific composers of the Classical era. A contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, he was a virtuosic cellist. Born in Italy, he moved to Spain when he was 25, where he lived for the remainder of his life. His compositions are consistently in the charming galante style, often featuring demanding passages for the cello. His Symphony in D major, written in 1790, is sometimes referred to as an overture. (The terms “symphony” and “overture” were used interchangeably at that time and place.) This short work, between five and six minutes in length, is written for two oboes, one bassoon, two French horns and strings. Boccherini indicated that the tempi should be Allegro con spirito molto – Andantino – Allegro come prima, with no pause between the three sections. The first of the three sections is in a brisk 4/4 meter, followed by a slow middle section in triple meter, with a return to an abbreviated version of the first section. It’s a fun piece to conduct, to play, and best of all, to listen to.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Concerto in G major for Flute (first movement)

Pergolesi was an Italian composer of the Late Baroque whose music, upon his death at the young age of 26, rather quickly became in great demand throughout Italy. Consequently, some unscrupulous authors and publishers created stories about him that persist to this day, including attributing compositions to him that he never wrote. Such may be the case with this flute concerto. Researching this work, one comes across words such as “very doubtful,” “misattributed,” and “possibly written by Giuseppe Antonio Paganelli.” It’s also possible that Pergolesi did, indeed, write this delightful piece. In any event, the first movement is quite enjoyable, with an abundance of syncopations in both the flute and the strings. It begins with the orchestra stating the main theme, followed by the flute repeating the same theme. We hear a middle section that resembles the development section of the coming Classical era, with a final return to the main theme. We hope you enjoy this interpretation by the gifted Dylan Gruber.

Felix Mendelssohn
Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor (first movement)

Composer, performer, teacher, editor, and conductor, Felix Mendelssohn is widely known for A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, Violin Concerto in E minor, four symphonies, Songs Without Words for piano, the ubiquitous “Wedding March,” from additional incidental music for Shakespeare’s play above, along with other instrumental and choral works. His first piano concerto was written quickly and easily and was well received by critics and audiences. However, this piano concerto, his second, was laborious for him. He struggled with it for several months in a desire to please the sophisticated audience it was written for. Robert Schumann, in his role as a critic, said it was not a great work because it wasn’t challenging enough for the best pianists of the time. However, the rapid runs, arpeggios and other tricky passages in this work belie Schumann’s criticism. The first movement is in the traditional sonata-allegro form, with a brief introduction by the orchestra outlining a D minor triad before the piano enters with the first theme. The second theme is in the key of F major. The development follows, with a recap of the exposition, ending with a brilliant piano cadenza. Listen how Eric Zhang has mastered the first movement.

Felix Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto in E Minor (first movement)

This is among the best and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time, along with those of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruch and Saint-Saëns. It has been a bedrock of the repertoire and a favorite among performers and audiences for almost 180 years. Much of the credit goes to the enchanting first theme, which Mendelssohn said, “goes through my head and gives me no peace.” As in his piano concerto we just heard, there is no pause between the three movements. The theme Mendelssohn refers to begins immediately by the violin without a melodic introduction by the orchestra. This captivating theme is echoed by the orchestra before the lovely second theme appears in the flutes and clarinets, sustained by a long pedal tone on the G string, the violin’s lowest note. (The term “pedal tone” or “pedal point” is derived from the practice of sustaining a note on one of the organ’s foot pedals.) A development follows, with the soloist’s cadenza appearing at the end of the development rather than, as in most concertos, near the end of the work. After the cadenza, a recapitulation of the exposition returns, then ends with a stormy coda. Roxana Niazi gives us a masterful performance of the first movement of this beautiful and enduring masterpiece.

Camille Saint-Saëns
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor (third movement)

As noted above, this work is one of the most frequently performed violin concertos. Saint-Saëns wrote it in 1880 at age 45 and dedicated it to Pablo de Sarasate, the extraordinary young Spanish violinist and composer who lived from 1844 to 1908. The third movement begins in a foreboding mood with a powerful, improvisatory-sounding violin solo that indicates this is going to be a serious piece of music. In these opening measures, Saint-Saëns explores almost the entire range of the violin, from its lowest note (the same low note we heard as a pedal tone in Mendelssohn’s concerto) to the high F-sharp at the top of the piano keyboard. The cadenza evolves into the first theme, a dance-like melody reminiscent of a tarantella. Following this short dance tune, we are treated to the second theme, a song-like melody which leads to some very difficult scales, arpeggios and double stops (two notes at the same time). Next comes a happier section in the major mode, shared by the violin and the full orchestra. After a well-deserved rest of 40 measures, the soloist returns with a slower, celestial melody, forming the middle of the movement. The tempo soon increases and we are treated to the opening violin solo again, and the exposition is repeated. This recapitulation ends with an unexpected organ-like chorale in the brass before two codas bring this movement to a thrilling climax. Enjoy, as Skyler Lee entertains us with an inspired performance of this timeless work.

David Popper
Hungarian Rhapsody

David Popper probably did as much to popularize the cello as a solo instrument as any other composer, writing dozens of works for cello and piano. Born in Prague, he studied music at the Prague Conservatory and soon became a renowned cellist, performing solo recitals as well as appearing with several orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic at age 21. In response to the scarcity of teaching materials for cello students, Popper wrote at least three books of cello etudes that are still in use today. His Hungarian Rhapsody is one of his more popular compositions for cello and piano, the keyboard part of which has subsequently been arranged for a variety of ensembles. The beginning of this Rhapsody is not unlike the opening of the third movement of the Saint-Saëns concerto above. After a brief orchestral introduction, the cellist plays a dramatic, free-form solo, entering with bravura on the lowest string and eventually reaching the highest stratosphere of the cello’s range. What ensues is a series of melodic episodes based on Hungarian folk rhythms and scales written to showcase the technical prowess of the performer. About halfway through the piece, the performer’s technical skills are stressed to the maximum with extremely fast staccato notes, scales and arpeggios. Following this display of pyrotechnics, the slower section returns, featuring the Hungarian folkdance rhythms and scales. As one might expect, the Rhapsody ends with a sparkling coda, traditionally bringing enthusiastic and sustained applause from audiences. One anticipates at least the same reception for the accomplished Eva Tseitlin as she offers her best effort on the performance of this popular work.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Violin Concerto in D major

Tchaikovsky wrote his one and only violin concerto in Clarens, Switzerland, where he had fled to recover from depression brought on by his unhappy, six-week marriage to Antonina Miliukova. His mood improving, he wrote the first draft of this concerto in only eleven days, with high hopes it would be well received. Two previous works had suffered poor reviews. His first (now famous) piano concerto had been called “worthless and unplayable,” and the premiere of his ballet Swan Lake was not well received. Unfortunately, after the first performance of his new violin concerto, an influential critic in Vienna said it was “vulgar” and that the violin was not played, but “tugged about, torn, beaten black and blue.” Sadly, Tchaikovsky did not live to see how central to the world’s classical repertoire these three works had become. The first movement of this concerto is especially well loved. Adhering rather strictly to the traditional sonata-allegro form, it begins with an orchestral introduction. The violin then enters with a cadenza-like passage, followed by the first theme, an alluring melody in D major. Following a transition of rapid scales and arpeggios, the second theme appears—a romantic air in A major. Tension builds to the exciting return of the first theme played by the full orchestra, leading to the development—essentially a series of variations on the first theme. As in Mendelssohn’s concerto, the violin’s solo cadenza comes at the end of the development, in which the full range of the violin is on display—from its lowest to its highest notes. The recapitulation features both themes played in D major, followed by an extended, two-minute coda—a perfect ending to the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. Enjoy this performance by the talented Dmitrii Tabala.

Program Notes by Ted Lucas

Featured Performers

Roxana Niazi

Roxana Niazi

Roxana Niazi, age 16, is currently a junior at Agoura High School. Roxana has performed in school orchestras, the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra, and the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. She has also participated in the Junior Chamber Music Program, the Advanced Contemporary Festival and the Montecito International Music Festival. Recently, Roxana performed as a soloist with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, in Opus 59. She loves performing with orchestras and is grateful to the Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra for this opportunity. She is currently studying with Ms. Elise Goodman and is thankful for her guidance and support.

Eric Zhang

Eric Zhang

Eric Zhang is an 8th grader at Sycamore Canyon School. He studies piano under Ornela Ervin and has won numerous honors, including the first place for the SCJBF CWA, the third place for the JCM Concerto competition, and the Honorable Mention for the MTAC Piano Concerto Competition. Eric was selected to play concertos with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic and had the privilege to study and perform chamber music in an Honors Tour in Germany. Outside of music, Eric plays soccer in a team winning state-level championships and holds the 2nd degree blackbelt for Taekwondo.  Eric has a passion for math and has won various competitions.

Skyler Lee

Skyler Lee

Skyler Lee is a senior at Newbury Park High School. His was first introduced to the violin in his elementary school strings program in 3rd grade. Soon after, he started lessons with Teresa DiTullio. Skyler currently studies violin under Sam Fischer at Colburn School.

Skyler is a concertmaster of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra (CVYO) and a member of the California Young Artists Symphony. He has served as a co-concertmaster at California All State Junior High Orchestra. Skyler has won 1st place Conejo Valley branch MTAC VOCE violin competition from 2017-2019 and 3rd place ENKOR International Music competition in 2020. He was selected as a Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra Young Artist in 2020, and he performed a full concerto at the 11th annual Henry Schwab violin competition and won 2nd prize in 2021, and won 1st prize in 2022. In February 2022, Skyler had a solo performance with Thousand Oaks Philharmonic in Opus 58 concert, and he was then chosen as a rising star of Ventura Music Festival.

Skyler enjoys playing for people in local communities such as: churches’ homeless dinners, veterans’ homes, retirement centers, and hospices. He tailors his music performances to the audiences’ likes and preferences. In his free time, Skyler likes to read, play chess and computer games, and listen to music.

Eva Tseitlin

Eva Tseitlin

Eva Tseitlin is a cellist residing in Thousand Oaks, California. She began her musical studies at age 4 with her father and mother, Alexander and Rebecca Tseitlin. Eva has studied privately with Kirill Rodin (Moscow Conservatory), Ronald Leonard (LA Phil), and Ruslan Biryukov.

Eva gave her first full public recital at age 11 with a performance of the Brahms e-minor Cello Sonata, Bach’s d-minor cello suite, and the Haydn C-Major Cello Concerto. She has performed chamber music with Alexander Tseitlin (CYAS), and James Lent (UCLA). 

At age 13 she was a finalist and winner of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Opus Series, performing the first movement of the Schumann cello concerto. 

At age 9, she won the Associate Principal Cello position of the CVYO Symphony Orchestra, and won a seat at CVYO’s Virtuosi Ensemble. At age 13, she won a fellowship with the prestigious California Young Artist Symphony. She has played under the baton of David Chan (New York Met), Radu Paponiu (Naples Philharmonic), Alexander Tseitlin (CYAS, CVYO), Larry Livingston (USC), and Neil Stulberg (UCLA).

Dylan Gruber

Dylan Gruber

Dylan Gruber, age 17, began his musical journey with the piano at six years old with Mrs. Eva Kapas as his teacher. In 2019, he began flute lessons with Ms. Mariana Smith. Since then, Dylan has performed during several services at the Ventura Methodist church, and at the Santa Paula Universalist Unitarian Church, during their music and poetry night. He now studies the flute and piano with Ms. Mariana Smith, and has won several competitions for both instruments. Dylan is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate at Rio Mesa High School, and plans to obtain his seal of biliteracy. Dylan is a golfer and loves playing volleyball.

Dmitrii Tabala

Dmitrii Tabala

Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, 21-year-old violinist Dmitrii Tabala began studying the violin at the age of 3. He is currently majoring in Violin Performance at California Lutheran University on a full scholarship under the tutelage of Dr. Keum Hwa Cha and the mentorship of Dr. Yoshika Masuda. Dmitrii began his formal studies at the Specialized Music School of the St. Petersburg Conservatory at the age of 8 and made his move to the US when he received a full scholarship to attend the Idyllwild Arts Academy at the age of 14, where he studied with Prof. Todor Pelev. In 2021, Dmitrii was the California state winner at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Competition and has previously participated in masterclasses for internationally renowned violinists, including Oleg Krysa (Eastman School of Music), Movses Pogossian (UCLA) and Martin Chalifour (LA Phil). He is currently 3rd chair in the California Young Artists Symphony and has also performed with the American Youth Symphony on several occasions. After graduation, Dmitrii plans to pursue graduate studies in violin performance, working towards a career as a solo violinist and recording artist.