Our 14th season of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra kicks off this weekend in Houston with concerts at the Miller Outdoor Theatre (6000 Hermann Park Drive) at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 21, and at The Church of St. John the Divine (2450 River Oaks Boulevard) at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 22. Our performance on Saturday afternoon will be live streamed, so be sure to visit www.roco.org for ticket information if you can join us in person, or to connect to the live stream on Saturday afternoon.
Our season opener includes the world premiere of Maxime Goulet’s Checkmate, a chess game for piano and orchestra, featuring the pianist Lara Downes. The work is based on the legendary 1996 match where IBM’s “Deep Blue” computer defeated reigning world champion Garry Kasparov. The piano part represents Kasparov while the orchestra plays the part of Deep Blue, with the actual match projected above the stage in real time.
Bassoonist Kristin Wolfe-Jensen and I will be featured soloists in the Concert Piece No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 113 by Felix Mendelssohn. In December 1832, the great clarinetists Heinrich Baermann and his son Carl were in Berlin on a concert tour. They had become close friends with Felix Mendelssohn, who invited them to his home while they were in Berlin in order to prepare his favorite dishes of sweet dumpings and cheese strudel. The quick-witted Baermanns requested as their “payment” a duet for clarinet and basset horn with piano or orchestra accompaniment. Carl Baermann later described the scenario as follows: “Mendelssohn then set the day this would come off, as he put it. And when I showed up at the appointed time (9 a.m.), he put a chef’s hat on my head, drew an apron around my waist and stuck a cooking spoon into the waistband. He did the same himself, except that instead of a spoon, he stuck a pen behind his ear. Then, to the great delight of the kitchen staff, he led me into the kitchen, where I had already made all the necessary preparations the previous day. He returned to his room where, as he said, he was going to stir and knead the tones, add salt and pepper, sweeten them and make a spicy sauce, before cooking everything over a good hot fire. Everything had to be ready at five o’clock. As the clock struck five, my heart skipped a beat, and I hoped that the dumplings had risen properly. To my great relief, they had risen beautifully, and the cheese strudel was bubbling away melodiously in the pan. I then brought my offerings in covered dishes to the table at the time agreed upon, and Mendelssohn also had his duet in a covered dish . . . We rehearsed the duet that very evening in his music salon, and after we made a few minor technical and instrumental changes in the piece, father and I were still more delighted with the charming piece than Mendelssohn was with the dumplings and strudel, although he kept saying that my dumpling composition was more ingenious than his.” (Program notes courtesy of Trio di Clarone, Breitkopf & Härtel)
Conductor Paul Watkins, cellist with the Emerson String Quartet, will lead the program, which includes Anthem, a piece composed by his brother, British composer Huw Watkins. Schubert/Mahler Death and the Maiden, 2nd movement, and Sinfonietta ‘La Jolla’ by Martinu round out the program.
I can’t wait to perform the opening concerts of our new season and hope you will join us!
“Music buffs love this chamber orchestra because they hear something they love and they learn to love something they’ve never heard before”
— CultureMap Houston