Performance Monday, April 30, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Australian Chamber Orchestra

Zankel Hall
Join Dawn Upshaw, Richard Tognetti, and his “badass classical band” (Time Out New York), the Australian Chamber Orchestra for the New York premiere of Winter Morning Walks, written by New York–based jazz composer Maria Schneider expressly for Upshaw and this orchestra. Inspired by her native Midwest, the composer says the piece strives for “broad openness with an accessible, simple beauty.”


  • Australian Chamber Orchestra
    Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director
  • Dawn Upshaw, Soprano


  • WEBERN Five Movements, Op. 5
  • GEORGE CRUMB Selections from Black Angels
  • MARIA SCHNEIDER Winter Morning Walks (NY Premiere)
  • SCHUMANN "Mondnacht," Op. 39, No. 5 (arr. Tognetti)
  • SCHUBERT "Geheimes," D. 719 (arr. Brahms)
  • SCHUBERT "Der Tod und das Mädchen" ("Death and the Maiden"), D. 531(arr. Tognetti)
  • GRIEG String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27 (arr. Tognetti)

  • Encore:
  • WALTON Allegro molto from Sonata for String Orchestra


  • Australian Chamber Orchestra

    Internationally renowned for inspired programming and the rapturous response of audiences and critics, the Australian Chamber Orchestra is a product of its country's vibrant, adventurous, and inquiring spirit. In performances around Australia, around the world, and on many recordings, the ACO moves hearts and stimulates minds with repertoire that spans six centuries, and a vitality and virtuosity unmatched by other ensembles.

    The ACO was founded in 1975; Richard Tognetti was appointed its artistic director and leader in 1989. Every year, this ensemble presents performances of the highest standard to audiences around the world, including 10,000 subscribers across Australia. The ACO's unique artistic style encompasses not only the masterworks of the classical repertoire, but innovative cross-art form projects and a vigorous commissioning program.

    The ACO's 51 international tours across Asia, Europe, and the US have drawn outstanding reviews for performances at many of the world's prestigious concert halls, including Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, London's Wigmore Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall, and Vienna's Musikverein.

    The ACO has made acclaimed recordings for many labels, including ABC Classics, BIS, Sony, Channel Classics, Hyperion, EMI, and Chandos.

    In 2005, the ACO inaugurated an ambitious national education program, which includes outreach activities and mentoring of outstanding young musicians, including the formation of ACO2, an elite training orchestra which tours regional centers.

    Richard Tognetti

    Australian violinist, conductor, and composer Richard Tognetti has established an international reputation for his compelling performances and artistic individualism. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium with Alice Waten, in his home town of Wollongong with William Primrose, and at the Berne Conservatory (Switzerland) with Igor Ozim, where he was awarded the Tschumi Prize as the top graduate soloist in 1989. Later that year, he was appointed leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and subsequently became artistic director. He is also artistic director of the Festival Maribor in Slovenia.

    Mr. Tognetti performs on period, modern, and electric instruments. His numerous arrangements, compositions, and transcriptions have expanded the chamber orchestra repertoire and have been performed throughout the world.

    As director or soloist, Mr. Tognetti has appeared with the Handel and Haydn Society (Boston), Hong Kong Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Nordic Chamber Orchestra, and the Australian symphony orchestras. He conducted Mozart's Mitridate, re di Ponto for the Sydney Festival and gave the Australian premiere of Ligeti's Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony.

    Mr. Tognetti has collaborated with colleagues from across various art forms and artistic styles, including Joseph Tawadros, Dawn Upshaw, James Crabb, Emmanuel Pahud, Jack Thompson, Katie Noonan, Neil Finn, Tim Freedman, Paul Capsis, Bill Henson, and Michael Leunig.

    In 2003, Mr. Tognetti was co-composer of the score for Peter Weir's Master and Commander: The Far Sideof the World; violin tutor for its star, Russell Crowe; and can also be heard performing on the award-winning soundtrack. In 2005, he co-composed the soundtrack to Tom Carroll's surf film Horrorscopes and, in 2008, created The Red Tree, inspired by illustrator Shaun Tan's book. He co-created and starred in the 2008 documentary film Musica Surfica, which has won best film awards at surf film festivals in the US, Brazil, France, and South Africa.

    As well as directing numerous recordings by the ACO, Mr. Tognetti has recorded Bach's solo violin repertoire for ABC Classics, winning three consecutive ARIA awards, and the Dvořák and Mozart violin concertos for BIS.

    A passionate advocate for music education, Mr. Tognetti established the ACO's education and emerging artists programs in 2005.

    Mr. Tognetti was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010. He holds honorary doctorates from three Australian universities and was made a National Living Treasure in 1999. He performs on a 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin, lent to him by an anonymous Australian private benefactor.

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  • Dawn Upshaw

    Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire, ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today.

    Ms. Upshaw's 2011-2012 season features an array of performances in many areas of the repertoire that she has championed. With the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, where she is an artistic partner, Ms. Upshaw sings Debussy, Ravel, and the world premiere of a new work written for her by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. A dedicated recitalist, she embarks on a tour with longtime collaborator Gilbert Kalish. She performs with The Cleveland Orchestra and with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in music that ranges from Canteloube to Golijov and Schubert.

    In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year "genius" prize, and in 2008 she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is artistic director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center.

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At a Glance

ANTON WEBERN  Five Pieces, Op. 5
GEORGE CRUMB  Black Angels

Webern's Op. 5 movements for string quartet were his first purely instrumental forays into atonality and his first essays in aphoristic brevity. Nothing could have seemed more radical when they were premiered in 1910, but when interwoven with four even shorter movements from George Crumb's Black Angels—written in 1970 during the Vietnam War and "conceived as a kind of parable on our troubled contemporary world"—Webern's pieces sound expansive, even lushly Romantic, and their programmatic associations seem to rise to the surface.

MARIA SCHNEIDER  Winter Morning Walks

Written last year for soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, this set of nine songs is a classical song cycle built on a foundation of improvisatory jazz. The poems by former US poet laureate Ted Kooser are rich in natural imagery and psychological insight. Schneider—best known for her work in big-band jazz—takes her cue from what she calls the "emotional landscape" of the poetry, which "tells you what the harmony needs to be, and how the piece needs to build."

ROBERT SCHUMANN  "Mondnacht," Op. 39, No. 5

When aspiring song composers came to Schumann for advice, he often invoked Joseph von Eichendorff as the perfect poet for Lieder. "Mondnacht"-—one of Schumann's own Eichendorff settings—is now considered to be one of the most magical works in all of German song.

FRANZ SCHUBERT  "Geheimes," D. 719; "Der Tod und das Mädchen," D. 531

"Geheimes"—on text from Goethe's Book of Love—is a Schubert favorite and weds the romance of the text with a repeated rhythmic pattern in the piano that seems a stylization of happy sighs of longing or—more daring—erotic panting on the lovers' part. In "Der Tod und das Mädchen," we hear a terrified young woman pleading with Death to pass her by, and Death replying that he comes as a friend and that she will sleep softly in his arms.

EDVARD GRIEG  String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27

With its inspired melodies and luxuriant sonorities, Grieg's G-Minor String Quartet lends itself naturally to transcription for string orchestra. The music draws on the same rich vein of lyricism that Grieg had mined in works like the A-Minor Piano Concerto and the incidental music for Ibsen's Peer Gynt. At the same time, the quartet's advanced harmonies and organic structure—the four movements are linked by the use of common thematic material—look ahead to the music of Debussy, Bartók, and other modernists.

Program Notes



The Australian Chamber Orchestra performs an excerpt from Grieg's String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27 (Un poco andante), arranged by its Artistic Director Richard Tognetti.


The Australian Chamber Orchestra performs an excerpt from Grieg's String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27 (Finale), arranged by its Artistic Director Richard Tognetti.


Australian Chamber Orchestra Artistic Director and Lead Violin Richard Tognetti introduces his del Gesù violin, nicknamed "Carrodus." In 2007, Tognetti became the first musician to play the instrument in more than 50 years. The violin had been in the hands of collectors since surviving the 1953 car crash in New Mexico that killed its then owner—Austrian violinist Ossy Renardy.

This performance is part of Chamber Sessions II.