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Emily Ray


Enjoy our concerts at
the Petit Trianon
in San Jose

MCO presents "Diamonds and Dreams",
featuring Ashu, saxophonist

Join Emily Ray for a dazzling evening of musical adventures, featuring the Bay Area native, Ashu and award winning composer, Lee Actor.

February 14th, 2010, 7:30pm

Valentine's Concert: Diamonds and Dreams
  Mendelssohn Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream
  Avshalomov Diamond Variations
  Actor Saxophone Concerto, world premiere
  Mozart Symphony no. 34
Ashu,  saxophonist

About Ashu
Ashu was born and raised in California and began playing the saxophone at age 10. Regularly appearing as soloist with renowned orchestras throughout the USA and Europe, recent invitations include the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon, in such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. Earning a reputation for his engaging stage presence, critics have raved that he's "just as much fun to watch as he is to listen to" (Dallas Morning News) and "Riveting, Brilliant, Pizzazz to Burn!" (NPR). While most people have never heard the saxophone in a symphonic setting, Ashu has begun to change this. He says, "It's really an incredible instrument. It can play with such emotional intensity, sing like a voice, and effortlessly project in the largest of halls. It's capable of a lot of really beautiful things." With the unique ability to captivate general as well as classical audiences, Ashu has shown that the concert saxophone can reach beyond stylistic categorization to a large range of people.
For more details about Ashu, visit his website.

About Lee Actor
Composer and conductor Lee Actor (b. 1952 in Denver, Colorado) has won a number of awards for his compositions, most recently for Redwood Fanfare , a winner of the 2009 Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Competition, and Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, the First Prize Winner in the 2007 International Horn Society Composition Contest. Actor’s orchestral music is characterized by its dramatic impact and emotional expressivity, featuring a striking use of harmony, counterpoint, motivic development, and lyricism with a fresh, modern flavor. A former violinist with the Albany (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra, Actor has advanced degrees in both engineering, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and music composition, from San Jose State University.
For more details about Mr. Actor, visit his website.

About David Avshalomov
David Avshalomov, born in New York in 1946, is following in the footsteps of his famous father, Jacob, and grandfather, Aaron. As a student he sang in choruses, studied piano, music theory and percussion, and played timpani in school. After receiving a B.A. in music at Harvard, he became a professional chorister, performing in oratorios and madrigals. His compositions range from band and orchestra works to chamber music, vocal music and oratorio. As a conductor he studied with Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and others.
For more details about Mr. Avshalomov, visit his website.


Background on the Music

Felix Mendelssohn’s "Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
When he was only 17, Mendelssohn was inspired to write this overture to Shakespeare's famous play. A true work of the romantic period, it depicts fairies, the mystery of the forest, and a village dance, complete with donkey braying.
David Avshalomov’s Diamond Variations
Co-commissioned by Tracy Rush for the Dubuque Community Orchestra (Iowa) and by Emily Ray for the Mission Chamber Orchestra, the set of variations for strings and harp grew from the “seed crystal” of an original theme with two other variations on it written in the early 1990’s for the Gemological Institute of America, as theme music for an audiobook course about diamonds. The simple theme which widens melodically in an angular way, by moving from its first note up a step, then down a third, up a fourth, down a fifth, etc. to the octave, suggests the clean triangular or trapezoidal faces that are found both on full-formed rough diamond octahedra, and the many tiny facets that cutters grind onto the surface of a fashioned stone to reveal the total brilliance of a full-cut gem. This brilliance is both beauty and a snare: the variations portray beauty, friendship, yearning, and romance, but also greed, smuggling, theft, and the violence sometimes associated with the mining, movement, and ownership of diamonds.
Lee Actor’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra
“One of my goals in writing this piece," said composer Lee Actor, “was to exploit the considerable dramatic and expressive possibilities of the saxophone. The first movement, marked Andante appassionato, begins with an intense, declamatory statement in the high cellos accompanied by a counterpoint in the low violas, over a pedal G in the timpani and basses. The second movement, Adagio, begins with the saxophone playing a lonely solo. The finale, Allegro molto, is colorful and full of energy and high spirits. The result is a piece that expresses a full range of emotions, from intensely dramatic to poignantly lyrical to slyly humorous to triumphantly joyful. Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra was commissioned by the Mission Chamber Orchestra, dedicated to saxophonist Ashu, and is tailored to his uniquely personal style of performance."
Wolfgang A. Mozart’s Symphony no. 34
This is the last symphony Mozart wrote while living in Salzburg. It is somewhat unusual in that it has only three movements, missing the minuet that was standard for symphonies of that time. It also exhibits traits of his Symphony no. 31, written for the Paris orchestra, and gives greater prominence to the viola than is typical.

What to listen for
Mozart Symphony no. 34, Mvt 1 - Listen for the contrasts between bold, sinister and delicate sections.
Mozart Symphony no. 34, Mvt 2 - This is a heartfelt song performed by just the string section. Listen for how the tender melody of the first violins is often echoed by the 2nd violins and violas as they create a perfect harmony.
Mozart Symphony no. 34, Mvt 3 - Listen for the calming sound of the pair of oboes amidst the turbulence of the boisterous running notes in the strings.
Avshalomov Diamond Variations - Notice the way the intervals in the theme widen as the theme progresses. The harp adds "sparkle" to this theme and to later variations.


Getting to Le Petit Trianon
Le Petit Trianon is located in downtown San Jose, near the Rotunda. Free parking is available across the street from the theater in a new, well-lit parking garage. Click here for more information about the theater.

Enjoy Downtown San Jose
Downtown San Jose has a number of pre- and post-concert options for cocktails, dining and entertainment. MCO recommends Eulipia Restaurant, a few short blocks from the theater. Be sure to make reservations for February 14th.


Buy Your Tickets!



Featured Composers
  Lee Actor David Avshalomov
Listen to Mozart's "Symphony no. 34, Mvt 1" Click here
Listen to Mozart's "Symphony no. 34, Mvt 2" Click here
Listen to Mozart's "Symphony no. 34, Mvt 3" Click here
Listen to Avshalomov's "Diamond Variations" Click here
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Concerts are sponsored in part by a Cultural Affairs grant from the city of San Jose, Farrington Historical Foundation, and Arts Council Silicon Valley, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara and the National Endowment for the Arts.