David Alexander Rahbee conducts the University of Washington Symphony in a program of music by Kurt Atterberg, Jean Sibelius, and Johannes Brahms. With faculty violinist Rachel Lee Priday, performing Sibelius' Violin Concerto with the orchestra.
A Värmland Rhapsody: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Adagio di molto
III. Allegro, ma non tanto
Rachel Lee Priday, violin
Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Adagio non troppo
III. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi andantino)
IV. Allegro con spirito
By Micah Weiland
Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
A Värmland Rhapsodie, op. 36 (1932)
Kurt Atterberg was a Swedish composer and conductor. He grew up in Gothenburg; and studied the cello as a child before moving to study at the Stockholm Institute of Technology. He gained an education in civil engineering and worked in a patent office for much of his life. Even though he worked in an office, he still dedicated large amounts of time to composition. He composed nine symphonies, ten orchestral suites, numerous concerti, and many other concert works. His music often incorporates Swedish folk melodies as is showcased throughout this work. Thepiece uses such folk melodies to inspire thoughts of the vast meadows and landscapes in the Varmländ province of Sweden.
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto in D minor op. 47 (1904-05)
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer often credited with creating a national sound of Finland through his symphonic works. A violinist himself, he was educated in violin performance at the Helsinki institute of music beforemoving to Vienna to study composition and orchestration. It was there that he had decided to forge a modern Finnish sound. In order to do this, he began to embrace Finnish folk melodies and use them as inspiration for his own compositions. He found success in creating a distinctly Scandinavian atmosphere for his violin concerto which premiered in Helsinki in 1904. Sibelius’ Violin Concerto is one of the most important violin concertos not only of the 20th century, but one of the most important ever composed. Part of the reason the concerto became famous is that itwas championed by a number of revered violinists including but not limited to; Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrakh, IssacStern, Ida Haendel, Camilla Wicks, and Ginette Neveu.
The first movement opens with a shimmering texture in the violins before the soloist enters with a haunting melody. A unique aspect of this movement in particular is how Sibelius expanded the first-movement cadenza toserve as part of the development of the movement. The second movement begins with the theme in the woodwinds, the strings then enter with pizzicati before the solo violin plays one of the most beautiful and heartfelt melodies ever written. The Third movement is bursting with energy, and the lively violin solo is supported by sudden bursts of orchestral accompaniment.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Symphony no. 2 in D major op. 73 (1877
Over the course of the summer of 1877, Johannes Brahms completed his second symphony in D major. Sometimes referred to as the composer’s “pastoral symphony” as he wrote it while traveling through the Austrian Alps and Bavaria. It evokes a strong sense of lightheartedness and natural beauty, although it still has its moments of darkness. Originally, Brahms did not want to use trombones in this symphony but he felt as though they were necessary to complete the sound. Even though the opening of the symphony begins in a bright D major, Brahms had always felt that he was a melancholic person with “Dark wings flapping above [him]” which iswhy he chose to darken the sound by adding the trombones and timpani. The first movement is in sonata form and it opens with a three note motif that works its way through the piece in various forms and inversions. Also in theopening movement is a recurring lullaby theme in the low strings. The various characters included in this movement make for a complex opening to a monumental symphony.
The second movement is an Adagio with rich thematic content in the cellos with accompaniment in thewoodwinds. A stormy section then emerges within the low strings before continuing to a hopeful ending. Movement three is not the typical scherzo, but is replaced with something more gentle. The oboe solo in the beginning of the movement resembles the Astro German, Swiss dance known as a Ländler and is characterized by an accent on the thirdand last beat of each measure.
This Finale was written using the traditional classical form of which other contemporaries of Brahms were trying to replace with something more innovative. Even though it takes the standard form, this finale is very effective. It starts with a whispering melody in the strings and quickly explodes with excitement as the winds and brass restate the opening theme. The coda sets a dark and moody atmosphere before ending the piece in triumph.
University of Washington Symphony Orchestra
Violinist RACHEL LEE PRIDAY (PRY-day) is a passionate and inquisitive explorer in all her musical ventures, in search of contemporary relevance when performing the standard violin repertoire, and in discovering and commissioning new works. Her wide-ranging repertoire and eclectic programming reflect a deep fascination with literary and cultural narratives.
Rachel Lee Priday has appeared as soloist with major international orchestras, including the Chicago, Saint Louis, Houston, Seattle, and National Symphony Orchestras, the Boston Pops, and the Berlin Staatskapelle. Recital appearances have brought her to eminent venues including the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Musée du Louvre, Verbier Festival, Ravinia Festival and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, and tours of South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Committed to new music, and making enriching community and global connections, Rachel takes a multidisciplinary approach to performing that lends itself to new commissions organically merging poetry, dance, drama, stimulating visuals and music. Recent seasons have seen a new Violin Sonata commissioned from Pulitzer Prize Finalist Christopher Cerrone and the premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s “The Orphic Moment” in an innovative staging that mixed poetry, drama, visuals, and music. Rachel has collaborated several times with Ballet San Jose, and was lead performer in “Tchaikovsky: None But The Lonely Heart” during a week-long theatrical concert with Ensemble for the Romantic Century at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Her work as soloist with the Asia America New Music Institute promoted new music relationships and cultural exchange between Asia and the Americas, combining new music premieres and educational outreach in the US, China, Korea and Vietnam.
Rachel began her violin studies at the age of four in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, she moved to New York to study with iconic pedagogue Dorothy DeLay, and continued her studies at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division with Itzhak Perlman. Rachel holds a B.A. degree in English from Harvard University and an M.M. from the New England Conservatory, where she studied with Miriam Fried. Since Fall 2019, she serves as Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Washington School of Music.
Recent and upcoming concerto engagements include the Pacific Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic, Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic, Stamford Symphony, and Bangor Symphony. Since making her orchestral debut at the Aspen Music Festival in 1997, she has performed with numerous orchestras across the country, such as the symphony orchestras of Colorado, Alabama, Knoxville, Rockford, and New York Youth Symphony. In Europe and in Asia, she has appeared at the Moritzburg Festival in Germany and with orchestras in Graz, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea, where she performed with the KBS Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic and Russian State Symphony Orchestra on tour.
Rachel has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, and The Strad. Her concerts have been broadcast on major media outlets in the U.S., Germany, Korea, South Africa, and Brazil, including a televised concert in Rio de Janeiro, numerous radio appearances on 98.7 WFMT Chicago radio, and American Public Media’s Performance Today. She been featured on the Disney Channel, “Fiddling for the Future” and “American Masters” on PBS, and the Grammy Awards.
Praised by the Chicago Tribune for her “irresistible panache,” Rachel Lee Priday enthralls audiences with her riveting stage presence and “rich, mellifluous sound.” The Baltimore Sun wrote, “It’s not just her technique, although clearly there’s nothing she can’t do on the fingerboard or with her bow. What’s most impressive is that she is an artist who can make the music sing… And though her tone is voluptuous and sexy where it counts, she concluded the ‘Intermezzo’ with such charm that her listeners responded with a collective chuckle of approval as she finished.”
She performs on a Nicolo Gagliano violin (Naples, 1760), double-purfled with fleurs-de-lis, named Alejandro.
David Alexander Rahbee is currently Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities and Chair of Orchestral Conducting. He is Music Director and Conductor of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and founder of the UW Campus Philharmonia Orchestras. He is a recipient of the American-Austrian Foundation's 2003 Herbert von Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, the 2005 International Richard-Wagner-Verband Stipend, a fellowship the Acanthes Centre in Paris (2007), and is first prize winner in conducting from The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts for 2020. His work at UW has earned national recognition. In 2021 he was praised by The American Prize as “Consistently one of the most courageous and comprehensive [orchestral] programmers working in higher education in the U.S. today…”
Dr. Rahbee has appeared in concert with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Kammerphilharmonie Berlin-Brandenburg, Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Orchesterakademie der Bochumer Symphoniker, the Dresden Hochschule orchestra, Grand Harmonie, the Boston New Music Initiative, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja (Ecuador), Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Cool Opera of Norway (members of the Stavanger Symphony), Schönbrunner Schloss Orchester (Vienna), the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, the Kennett Symphony, and the Divertimento Ensemble of Milan. His collaborations with the Seattle Symphony include assistant conductor for the performance and recording of Ives’ Fourth Symphony, and as guest conductor for their Native Lands project and the North American premiere of Páll Ragnar Pallson's Quake with faculty cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir. He has collaborated with several prominent soloists such as Sarah Chang, Jon Kimura Parker, Yekwon Sunwoo, Glenn Dicterow and Jonathan Biss. He has been a guest rehearsal conductor for numerous young orchestras, such as the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony Orchestra of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University, and the Vienna University of Technology orchestra. He has served on faculty of the Pierre Monteux School as Conducting Associate, has been resident conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival and guest conductor at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Dr. Rahbee was an assistant at the Vienna State opera from 2002-2010. As part of his fellowship and residency at the 2003 Salzburg Festival, Dr. Rahbee was assistant conductor of the International Attergau Institute Orchestra, where he worked with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He has been selected to actively participate in masterclasses with prominent conductors such as Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Jorma Panula, Zdeněk Mácal, Peter Eötvös, Zoltán Peskó and Helmut Rilling, and counts Nikolaus Harnoncourt to be among his most influential mentors. From 1997-2001, David Rahbee was founder and conductor of the Fidelio Chamber Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Rahbeeʼs principal conducting teachers were Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin and composition from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in orchestral conducting, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Montreal in orchestral conducting. He has also participated in post-graduate conducting classes at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna. His brass arrangements are published by Warwick Music, and his articles on the music of Mahler have appeared in journals of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, among others.
In addition to being awarded first prize in conducting from The American Prize for 2020, he was awarded 2nd place in 2019. He has also placed among winners for five consecutive years for The American Prize Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award for Orchestral Programming, recognizing his programming with the UW Symphony and its affiliated ensembles for every season since he joined the faculty. The UWSO has also been a finalist in the category of orchestral performance in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Dr. Rahbee is co-editor of Daniels’ Orchestral Music (6thedition) and Daniels’ Orchestral Music Online (DOMO), the gold standard among conductors, orchestral administrators, orchestra librarians as well as other music professionals and students researching for orchestral programming.