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MET#5 2022 – Enigma Variations


Conductor – Sarah-Grace Williams

Flute Soloists – Svetlana Yaroslavskaya, Vanessa Couper, Jacinta Mikus

Riverside Theatre Parramatta

Friday November 18th at 8:00pm

** There will be a 20 minute interval after the world premiere. **

Our Program For This Evening:

Mendelssohn, Felix (1809-1847)Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Mendelssohn composed the incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream over the entire course of his life. The Overture was composed as a 17 year-old in 1826, and the rest of the incidental music composed in 1843, just four years before his tragic death.

The first performance of the Overture was in the privacy of his own home, was in its original form for two pianos and was performed by Felix and his sister Fanny as the piano duo.

As a child, the Mendelssohn family had grown up reading and conducting home performances of many of Shakespeare’s plays, with Shakespeare becoming a favourite of the young Felix.

Four chords open the Overture, each one adding another pair of winds to the flutes. Scurrying, staccato strings follow, and we are immediately swept along through the woods on the wings of fairies. The work twists and turns, ebbs and flows until it finally ends as it began, four simple chords played by the winds as if a gentle breeze blowing through the trees.

© Andrew Doyle, 2022

Wilkins, Keyna Solar Triumvirate: Triple Flute Concerto *World Premiere

Movement 1: Irregular Orbits

Movement 2: Triple Sunrise 

Movement 3: Dance Of The Suns 

It has been a delight to compose this major work for The Metropolitan Orchestra conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams and their wonderful premiere flautists Svetlana Yaroslavskaya, Vanessa Couper and Jacinta Mikus. The concept of the work is based on the triple star system KOI, located in the constellation Cygnus composed of three stars represented by three flutes: KOI-5 A, KOI-5 B and KOI-5 C, orbiting each other at 1,870±70 light-years away. The title comes from the Roman idea of 3 rulers working together, a Triumvirate, their spheres/orbits overlapping, intertwining, and separating simultaneously. The work features the C flute, piccolo and alto flute.

Movement 1: Irregular Orbits, is inspired by the route of one star in its irregular orbit, initially alone, then joined by the other two, each star represented by a flute. There is wide use of virtuosic motifs and flourishes based nearly entirely on whole-tone scales. The works of Messiaen and Debussy are influential here in their use of this scale. The whole-tone scale is made up of tones and has no leading note, because all tones are the same distance apart, and often creates a blurred indistinct and dream-like effect. This was Messiaen’s first mode of transposition and is also used extensively by Debussy and the other impressionists. The trio of C flutes is featured.

Movement 2: Triple Sunrise, is much more organic and primordial. The central feature are real space sounds from NASA open-source sound files, compiled by astronomer Dr Paul Francis. These are electromagnetic waves from nebulae, filtered through a spectrograph to be made audible. There is a fundamental pitch F from which the whole movement derives. The textures and resonances of the full orchestra are explored through staggered entries and sustained chords throughout, supporting soaring melodies. F Lydian mode is the most prominent key, based on the pitches present in the space sounds. The alto flute is featured here with C flutes and at the end, piccolo.  

Movement 3: Dance Of The Suns, is a movement with much more dance-like energy and momentum than the previous two. It showcases the capabilities of three piccolos and has some musical references to the previous movements. Opening with a piccolo solo loosely in F Minor, it flows on from the F Lydian mode of Movement 2. The solo evolves into a 5/4 lilting section, and the movement concludes with a dramatic finale using the whole orchestra to its fullest. 

© Keyna Wilkins, 2022


Elgar, Edward (1857-1934)Enigma Variations, op. 36

Enigma: Andante

Variation I. “C.A.E.”: L’istesso tempo

Variation II. “H.D.S.-P.”: Allegro

Variation III. “R.B.T.”: Allegretto

Variation IV. “W.M.B.”: Allegro di molto

Variation V. “R.P.A.”: Moderato—

Variation VI. “Ysobel”: Andantino

Variation VII. “Troyte”: Presto

Variation VIII. “W.N.”: Allegretto—

Variation IX. “Nimrod”: Moderato

Variation X. “Dorabella” Intermezzo: Allegretto

Variation XI. “G.R.S”: Allegro di molto

Variation XII. “B.G.N.”: Andante—

Variation XIII. “***” Romanza: Moderato

Variation XIV: “E.D.U.” Finale: Allegro

Elgar presents us with one of music’s greatest mysteries, the title ‘Enigma’. In his program notes for the first performance, he wrote:

The enigma I will not explain—its “dark saying” must be left unguessed… ; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme “goes,” but is not played…. So the principal Theme never appears, even as in some late dramas… the chief character is never on the stage.”

After a reportedly challenging day of teaching, Elgar was playing piano when his wife overheard a catchy melody that he was playing. He developed this melody further and improvised variations on it to reflect the character of each of his friends. Elgar went to great lengths to then name each of the variations in this work after the nicknames of his friends, and ensure each variation was infused with their character, reflected by the orchestra. The enigmatic theme is programmatic, and we are prompted to ask the question of whether Elgar intended for the work to represent himself in the theme. This is unlikely as the last variation is entitled, ‘E.D.U.’. Elgar’s wife affectionately called him ‘Edoo’ from the German Eduard, and he spells this ‘E.D.U.’ in the title.

The theme begins in the key of G minor, and between the melodic fragments, we are presented with a lyrical section in G major. The theme is in a clear ABA form and in true theme and variations style, the variations continue with this structure.

The most famous and evocative variation is the ninth variation, Nimrod. This variation portrays his close friend August Jaeger. Jaeger was the editor of the London publishing house Novello and supported Elgar’s compositions long before they became famous. The heart-wrenching Adagio in Nimrod reflects their close and emotional relationship. The two people that meant the most to Elgar were his wife (Caroline Alice Elgar, ‘C.A.E.’ – Variation I) and Jaeger. He uses these two themes in his own, final variation and the beauty and emotion of this final variation shows us just how much they meant to him.

© Andrew Doyle, 2022

Our Artists For This Performance:

The Metropolitan Orchestra – Click Here To Read TMO’s Biography.

Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams. Click Here To Read Sarah-Grace’s Bio.

This Evening’s Soloists (click on the name to read their bio): Svetlana Yaroslavskaya, Vanessa Couper, Jacinta Mikus

The Musicians Of The Metropolitan Orchestra On Stage Are:

Concertmaster ^Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich

First Violin: *Dominique Guerbois, Amanda Scott, Caroline Kelly, Denisa Smeu-Kirileanu, Ela Stopa-Zbikowska, Elena Tabolkina, Nan Heo, Gulia Bayjanova, Paul Pokorny, Justin Li

Second Violin: *Catrina Hughes, Bree Baxter, Naomi Warr, Amanda Hoh, Joshua Kok, Stephanie Colomb, Tania Ma, Hannah Duque, Parisa Vaez

Viola: #Monique Turner, Liz D’Olier, Janet Silverton, Jonathan Karanikas, Kirsten James, Nicola Elsworth, Kathryn Ramsay

Cello: *Ezmi Pepper, Julienne Guerbois, Cathy Upex, Karen Cortez, Lye Lin Ho

Bass: *Mark Szeto, Jessica Holmes, *Jeremy Fox

Flute: *Svetlana Yaroslavskaya, Vanessa Couper, Jacinta Mikus

Oboe: #Madeleine Randall, Ovania McClelland

Clarinet: *Andrew Doyle, Alisha Coward

Bassoon: *Anthony Grimm, Sarajane Kirkaldy-Hansen

ContraBassoon: Zola Baldwin

French Horn: *Adrian Hallam, Gemma Lawton, Neil O’Donnell, Robert Stonestreet

Trumpet: #Raph Harvey, Arkie Moore, Koominka

Trombone: *Gareth Lewis, Mark Brown

Bass Trombone: Arthur Johnson

Tuba: James Barrow

Timpani: *Murray Parker

Percussion: Anita Cook, Helen Parker, Kaylie Dunstan

^ Concert Master

* Principal

# Acting Principal

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