A Family Affair
January 12, 2014
A Family Affair
After having to postpone their Winter Concert due to an historic blizzard, The Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras (GBYO) will make their much-anticipated return to The Klein with their Spring Concert on Sunday, May 19, 2013, at 3:00 pm. The concert will include performances by all five GBYO ensembles and feature Jefferson Zhang, cello, the winner of the annual GBYO Concerto Competition. Christopher Hisey, Music Director for the organization, conducts the program, which will include the premiere of the work Japanese Maple by Alyssa Rodriguez.
A native of Newtown, Connecticut, composer Alyssa Rodriguez was raised surrounded by horse farms and forest in rural Connecticut. From a young age, she nurtured a love and appreciation for nature and began her artistic endeavors as a visual artist, capturing the countryside’s creatures on paper. At the age of nine, she began studying the violin in public elementary school, which sparked a lifelong love for music. In high school, she began writing compositions for the violin, which soon blossomed into small pieces for string quartet and orchestra. Her pursuit of composition was largely inspired by the enthusiasm of Christopher Lee, the Music Theory and Composition teacher at Newtown High School, with whom she took basic through AP Theory. Alyssa was a member of GBYO from 2006-2010. She currently studies at Ithaca College with Dr. Dana Wilson, working toward her B.M. in Music Composition with an emphasis in violin performance.
Alyssa likes to compose coloristic music that is meaningful to her. Much of her music is inspired the exploration of a visual image or a concept. She specifically likes to explore the interplay of timbre, texture, and pitch to create images and narratives. Some of her largest classical music influences are Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Jean Sibelius, Antonin Dvorak, and Maurice Ravel. Also, the music of Dana Wilson, with whom she currently studies music composition at Ithaca College, has been a large inspiration for her.
To this day, Alyssa Rodriguez continues to draw inspiration from her roots in nature and art, such as in Japanese Maple (2012). Inspired by the delicate foliage of the Japanese maple tree, this programmatic piece examines the tree from various angles, and especially captures the wind rustling its delicate, feather-like leaves in a series of dovetailing strings and woodwinds, and later, swells of brass. Beginning with a small breeze, the upper strings slowly stir, which causes the clarinet to stir, eventually creating ripples of sound in the flutes and strings. This rippling effect is passed to the violas, cellos, and other woodwinds, until the entire tree has shaken and settles with a glimmering triangle. Another breeze ensues with murmuring strings, which stirs the clarinet, and various other woodwinds. Suddenly, we are looking at the tree from within, from the trunk out to the leaves, marked by sparkling, pizzicato strings and brass swells representing a persisting but distant wind. Soon, another breeze stirs the woodwinds, rippling and rippling until the entire tree is continuously swept in woodwind and string breezes, and the low brass and woodwinds sing a majestic melody. Larger and larger breezes begin to assault the tree, causing a flurry of rippling action in the woodwinds, which soon infects the entire orchestra, until the whole orchestra creates large windswept waves of sound. When the sounds builds to become overwhelming, the wind finally gives way to gentle breezes once more, settling with sparkling open strings and harmonics, shimmering tremolos, flutes, and a rustling texture in the woodwinds reminiscent of the opening.
Other recent compositions include Awakened by Birds in Early Morning (2012), a programmatic piece for alto flute in three movements, inspired by the sound of birds drifting into her room on early summer mornings. Also composed in 2012, the violin duet Two Kids and a Box of Crayons draws upon her love of the visual arts, and the spontaneous drawings of children. Finally, Pulsar (2012), a piece for solo cello, explores the cello’s timbral possibilities, especially exploiting the overtones series.
In addition to Principal Orchestra, the other four GBYO ensembles, Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Carrie Mascaro, Concert Orchestra, led by Erica Messina, Aaron Lofaro conduction the String Orchestra and Aaron Barkon with the Wind Ensemble, will perform. The conductors are assisted by coaches Amy Hannequin, Enkelejda Hasani, Darilyn Manring, Brian Miller, Bruce Sloat, Roger Thulin, and Jennifer Trahan.
Founded in 1961 the GBYO, with four developmentally sequential orchestras and the Wind Ensemble, offers one of the finest musical experiences for young musicians in the area. The 240+ members in the five ensembles were chosen by competitive auditions in early fall and have been rehearsing since September in preparation for this concert. The members, in grades 5-12, reside in 27 communities in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
The concert is presented through the generosity of the Stratford Masonic Fraternities and with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, and may be purchased at The Klein after 2:00 PM on performance day or by contacting the GBYO Executive Director, Barbara Upton at 203-459-4249. For additional information about the GBYO, please visit our web site at www.gbyo.org.