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Hear the music of Sweden on Sunday, January 10th

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Dag Wirén (1905-1986) was a composer not well known outside his native Sweden. However, his Serenade for Strings, Op. 11, from 1937, is performed by many string orchestras around the world. One reason is the infectious charm of the final “March” movement, with its melody that seems so familiar, even if you have never heard it. Read more about this composer here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Wirén

Listen to the “March”:

Dag Wirén’s “March” performed by Cali Camerata

Come hear us perform his work on Sunday, January 10th at 4 p.m. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Phoenixville, PA.

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Summer 2017 Concert

Our summer concert was held on Friday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Wayne United Methodist Church, 210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA.

Program

Vivaldi: Concerto Grosso in D Minor, Op. 3, No. 11

Sibelius: Impromptu for String Orchestra

Parry: An English Suite (Prelude, Minuet, Sarabande, Frolic)

Ireland: Minuet from A Downland Suite

Grieg Suite
   Last Spring, Op. 34, No. 2
   Norwegian, Op. 53, No. 1
   Cow Call and Peasant Dance, Op. 63, No. 2a and 2b

Gardel: Por una Cabeza

Anderson: Jazz Legato and Jazz Pizzicato

Winter Concert

Our winter concert was held on Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 4 p.m. at St. Peter’s (121 Church Street) in Phoenixville, PA. The concert was part of the Music @ St. Peter’s Series.

Program

Antonio Vivaldi: Four Seasons

Gustav Holst: St. Paul’s Suite

Geroge Gershwin: Lullaby

Astor Piazzolla: Libertango

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Our guest soloist for the Vivaldi and Holst was Paul Roby of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Click here to see Roby and Amici Strings performing the Vivaldi at our summer concert.

About Paul Roby

Paul Roby’s first lessons were from his parents, a violinist and an oboist. His early studies continued with Mary Crowder-Hess and Roman Totenberg, students of Ivan Galamian and Carl Flesch, respectively. At the age of 16 Mr. Roby was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied violin with Yumi Ninomiya Scott and Jascha Brodsky, members of the Curtis Quartet. Immediately after graduation from Curtis, Mr. Roby won a position with the Baltimore Symphony under David Zinman and soon after became a member of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich. In 1991 Mr. Roby became a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and in November 2000 was named associate principal second violin.

Mr. Roby made his solo debut at age 12 with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and has since won such prizes as the best Wieniawski Polonaise Prize at the Wieniawski-Lipinski Competition in Lublin, Poland, and the Davidoff Prize for Outstanding Artistry at the 1989 Schleswig-Holstein Festival. As a founding member of the Salzau Quartet, Mr. Roby played a command performance for German President Weizäcker at his official residence.

St Peters

St. Peter’s is located at 121 Church Street in Phoenixville. Its vision is to be an inclusive, vibrant Christian community honoring its Episcopal heritage by achieving excellence in worship, mission, education and fellowship. More information about St. Peter’s can be found here: St. Peter’s.

Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite”

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Similarly to Vivaldi, Gustav Holst spent a large part of his career as a pioneering music educator at a girls’ school. From 1905 to his death in 1934 he was employed by the St. Paul’s School for Girls, located in Brook Green, Hammersmith, West London. Contained in that address are the titles of three of Holst’s compositions, but it is St. Paul’s Suite that has become a staple of string orchestra repertoire. Who can resist the dances? We have a lively opening jig, a quiet waltz one would hear in a dream, a waltz treatment of Greensleeves and another jig. Between two of the dances is the wonderful Intermezzo, in which the soulful solo violin and viola delicately wind their way through the pizzicato strings, only to have the orchestra suddenly run at full speed and just as suddenly stop to ponder the old soulful melody again. The Finale (The Dargason) was a bold stroke in a composition for students in 1913. The virtuosity of composition and orchestration we enjoy so much in Holst’s most famous piece, The Planets, still a few years in the future, is evident here. Among English composers, only Holst would dare to combine two familiar tunes having different rhythmic schemes and score that combination so masterfully that the two melodies seem destined to be together from birth.

Gershwin’s Lullaby

George Gershwin wrote the lullaby for string quartet when he was a young man of 21. By that time he had been penning songs on Tin Pan Alley for about three years. Although his fame had been secured when Al Jolson transformed a little song called “Swanee” into Gershwin’s first big hit, “Rhapsody in Blue” was still four years away. “Lullaby” had been performed just a few times in private settings before 1922, when George borrowed the opening measures to create a new song for his one- act jazz opera, “Blue Monday.” Forgotten for 40 years, Ira Gershwin showed the “Lullaby” manuscript to harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, who arranged it for harmonica and string quartet and gave the piece its first public performance at the 1963 Edinburgh Festival. Four years later, the Juilliard Quartet performed it for the first time in its original string quartet form. Though Ira had “Lullaby” published the following year, it had remained shadowed by his brother’s many other more famous compositions until recently. Nearly a century after it was written, “Lullaby” seems to be emerging on its own merits–a simple, beautiful song without words and the composer’s only piece for strings.image

 

Poetry and Performance in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Each of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is based on a sonnet written by the composer himself. As you listen to the selected movements from each concerto, consider how  Vivaldi translates his words into music.

Amici Strings will perform the entire “Four Seasons” with readings of the poems and a performance by violin soloist Paul Roby at our free concert on July 29, 2016.

Spring

“Spring” awakens with evocative bird calls.

spring


Summer

This movement 3 from the “Summer” Concerto evokes thunder and lightning: a summer storm rages…

summer

Autumn

The third movement of the “Autumn” Concerto depicts The Hunt. Wild beasts flee the hunters with their weapons and dogs, but ultimately, there are those who cannot escape.

autumn

Winter

The slow movement of Vivaldi’s “Winter” Concerto illustrates a winter rain; the plucked strings (pizzicato) of the orchestra are the raindrops which soak the passersby.

winter

Press Release for January Concert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January Amici Strings concert celebrates the fabric of community

PHOENIXVILLE, PA, December 17, 2015—Phoenixville is known for its annual firebird festival, a blazing and eclectic celebration of rebirth. But the renewal of the town has been accompanied by a quieter reinvestment in music education and performance opportunities. A new orchestra with several Phoenixville members, Amici Strings will perform at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Phoenixville on Sunday, January 10 at 4 p.m. The free concert is part of the Music @ St. Peters concert series and will include the Concerto for Strings in c minor by Vivaldi, Elgar’s romantic Serenade, Dag Wiren’s sprightly March, the Capriol Suite by the elusive Peter Warlock and Carl Nielsen’s Little Suite for String Orchestra. Nielsen’s first orchestral suite was itself a birth of sorts—it is fabled that the program notes attributed the piece to “Mr. Nielsen, whom nobody knows.”

Music has played an important part in the revitalization of Phoenixville, a place that, until recently, it would seem nobody knew. In the decade she has lived here, violinist Liz Grimshaw has watched Phoenixville develop into a vibrant city, thanks in part to the quality of the First Friday performers. She joined Amici enthusiastically because “the musicians here possess a depth and richness of talent and experience”. Alice Pavri, who teaches violin, viola, and piano in Kimberton, founded the orchestra last summer to explore rich repertoire for string orchestra and spend time with her many talented friends. One of whom, cellist Pam Baxter, moved to Phoenixville in 1985. She credits the remarkable growth of the city to the Chamber of Commerce, the Colonial Theater, and the Art Center. For Baxter, Phoenixville is a livable city “full of art and music and creative energy.”

Phoenixville has a history of producing award-winning marching bands, but little exposure to string ensembles. In spite of having directed bands for much of his career, Amici conductor Stuard Young calls string groups his “greatest musical love.” Bassist Joe Klapper explains how string ensembles differ from traditional school bands: “Strings offer a more contemplative and delicate world in which to express our human diversity.” Klapper was hired to start the district’s string program in 2013, the same year St. Peter’s Music Series began. The church hopes to bring people together in the appreciation of music and experience of community. “We wanted to offer high quality music to people who might not otherwise attend a concert,” says Karen Martz, a choral singer who works with the church to organize the series. Children are welcome at all St. Peter’s musical events.

Many of the orchestra’s members are hopeful about Phoenixville’s musical future. Indeed, with 304 students learning violin, viola, and cello in the city’s schools, Amici may soon have some serious competition! Joe Klapper hopes the ensemble can serve as a model for his young students: “I’d like my kids to embrace complex ideas of beauty. Classical music helps us do that.”

For more information about Amici Strings, visit our website: amicistrings.com or find us on Facebook: facebook.com/amicistringsorchestra

St. Peter’s is located at 121 Church Street in Phoenixville and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary. Its vision is to be an inclusive, vibrant Christian community honoring its Episcopal heritage by achieving excellence in worship, mission, education and fellowship. More information about St. Peter’s can be found at saintpeterschurch.net.

January 10, 2016

Amici Strings gave a concert at  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on January 10, 2016 at 4 p.m. The performance was part of the Music @ St. Peter’s series.

St Peters

St. Peter’s is located at 121 Church Street in Phoenixville and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary. Its vision is to be an inclusive, vibrant Christian community honoring its Episcopal heritage by achieving excellence in worship, mission, education and fellowship. More information about St. Peter’s can be found here: St. Peter’s.

August 7, 2015

Amici Strings held its inaugural concert on Friday, August 7, at 7:30 pm at Wayne United Methodist Church. The program included:

amici bass

  • Vivaldi, Concerto for Strings, c minor, RV 118
  • Elgar, Serenade for String Orchestra, op. 20
  • Wiren, March from Serenade for String Orchestra
  • Warlock, Capriol Suite
  • Nielsen, Little Suite for String Orchestra, op. 1

 

Admission was free and a reception followed the concert.

About Wayne United Methodist Church

Wayne United Methodist Church is located at 210 S. Wayne Ave, in the heart of downtown Wayne, and remains an active part of the community. The Church is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary with a year-long schedule of special events. Click here for more information about events and ministries: WayneUMC.

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Explore the music and composers represented on our concert

The Carl Nielsen Society is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The society’s official websiteamici 3 is accessible in English, and on it, you can find a detailed biography, photo gallery, a complete list of compositions and recordings, performances around the world, and links to related subject of interest: Carl Nielsen Society

The Elgar Society is Britain’s largest composer society. The current society President is Julian Lloyd-Webber, cellist, and brother of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, composer of “Phantom of the Opera” and other musicals. Membership is free. Elgar Society

Another website, with links to the Elgar Society, but organized in a possibly more useful layout for American audiences is here: Elgar.org

Antonio Vivaldi is a name so well recognized that he is now the namesake of a recently launched web browser. His “Four Seasons” seems to become more popular every year. The composer’s catalog would take a lifetime of listening or performing before reaching its end. The Saint Paul (MN) Chamber Orchestra has a free listening library on its website. Compositions by “The Red Priest” can be found here: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Listening Library

Warlock for Strings

Peter Warlock is the pseudonym Philip Heseltine used on his musical compositions. He was an English journalist, music critic and composer in the early part of the 20th century. Though his list of completed musical compositions is small, “Capriol” is one of the most often performed pieces in the string orchestra repertoire. It reflects the composer’s interest in Elizabethan music, as the suite is a selection of dance melodies from that period in 20th century clothing. Come hear “Capriol” on the August 7 program.

Performed by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (2012).                       Conductor: Henning Kraggerud.

Carl Nielsen: A Great Dane

We celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Denmark’s greatest composer by closing our August 7th concert with his earliest published piece, the “Little Suite for Strings”. First performed in 1888, when the composer was only 22, the piece was a great success for the young composer. While it does not have the voice that was to develop into the great symphonist of the early 20th Century, the charming Intermezzo does show Nielsen’s early fondness for triple time, which was to become a signature characteristic of his later music.

Performed here by the Orquesta Ciudad de Orihuela (OCO) in 2012.       Conductor: Sixto M. Herrero Rodes.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friendly Ensemble to Bring String Music to Wayne This August

WAYNE, PA, July 16, 2015—In a summer bursting with pops concerts and fireworks, a group of string musicians offers a unique addition to the Main Line music scene. Amici Strings, a new ensemble of 23 local musicians, will have its first concert at Wayne United Methodist Church on Friday, August 7, at 7:30 p.m. The free concert will include the Concerto for Strings in c minor by Vivaldi, Elgar’s romantic Serenade, Dag Wiren’s sprightly March, and the Capriol Suite by the elusive Peter Warlock. Carl Nielsen’s Little Suite for String Orchestra will close the evening. Conductor Stuard Young calls Nielsen’s piece, “the most important Opus 1 I know. The young composer burst upon the Danish music scene with a piece of such richness and strength that once known, the melodies cannot be forgotten.”

The musicians selected the Italian name to reflect their fondness for Vivaldi and to celebrate the meaning of the word: “amici” means “friends.” “I have many talented friends who play string instruments,” says Amici’s founder, Alice Pavri, “I wanted to bring a group together to play string repertoire we don’t often get to play in our symphonic orchestras.” Pavri has a knack for bringing people together; she is also the co-creator of the Providence Chamber Orchestra (est. 1998) and the director of the Phoenxiville Phiddlesticks, a children’s group. Pavri has been teaching violin, viola, and piano in Kimberton for 20 years.

amici greg

Like Pavri, many Amici members are local string teachers. “It’s important for kids to
see that music can remain a vital part of their lives even after they leave school,” claims bass player and Phoenixville district teacher, Joe Klapper. Leigh Schoepflin, who also teaches in Phoenixville, praises the challenge of the repertoire, noting that string music provides variety in the viola part often absent in larger orchestral works. With a small ensemble like this one, it is easy for children and adults alike to hear how every musician contributes to the sound, and how happy they are to be playing together.

imageSummer ensembles have a special kind of energy. Young is the Assistant Conductor of the Main Line Symphony Orchestra, and a retired Radnor Township School District music teacher. He agreed to conduct the string ensemble because, “despite my many years as a career director of bands, the sound of massed strings remains my greatest musical love. This fine, dedicated group of musicians is thrilled to make its debut in downtown Wayne with this special concert of music both beautiful and exciting.”

The concert will be followed by a “friendly” reception.

For more information about Amici Strings, visit our Facebook page:

About Wayne United Methodist Church

Wayne United Methodist Church is located at 210 S. Wayne Ave, in the heart of downtown Wayne, and remains an active part of the community. The Church is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary with a year-long schedule of special events. Click here for more information about events and ministries: WayneUMC.

Elgar: Larghetto from Serenade for strings

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Sir Edward Elgar, the most English of English composers, wrote several pieces for string orchestra. His early “Serenade in E Minor, Op. 20” is one of his most elegant, gentle, noble and beautiful creations, as this second movement of three attests.

The Swedish national string orchestra plays “Larghetto” from Edvar Elgar’s “Serenade for strings in E minor” op.20. Live recording from Lund cathedral, July 3rd, 2009. Conductor: Berth Nilsson.

Amici Strings will perform Elgar’s Serenade on the August 7, 2015 program.