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Irish Chamber Orchestra

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
Irish Chamber Orchestra
Hear unique explorations of a classic Baroque form and clarinet fireworks. The fugue (imitation of a theme in simultaneously sounding melodic lines) enjoyed its heyday in the Baroque era, but Mozart’s deeply expressive Adagio and Fugue in C Minor took it to new heights, as did Mendelssohn in the finale of his Mozart-inspired Sinfonia No. 8. Jörg Widmann’s stunningly original Versuch über die Fuge honors and deconstructs the form—all at once! Widmann also plays high-speed runs, dizzying lines, and more in Weber’s Clarinet Quintet, a delightful mini-concerto.

Part of: Jörg Widmann


Irish Chamber Orchestra
Jörg Widmann, Principal Conductor and Clarinet
Claron McFadden, Soprano


MENDELSSOHN Sinfonia No. 8 in D Major

JÖRG WIDMANN Versuch über die Fuge

MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546

JÖRG WIDMANN 180 Beats Per Minute

WEBER Clarinet Quintet, Op. 34


TRAD. "Danny Boy" (arr. Kenneth Rice)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Jörg Widmann is the holder of the 2019–2020 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance

MENDELSSOHN  Sinfonia No. 8 in D Major

Mendelssohn originally wrote his Sinfonia No. 8 for string orchestra, and soon after arranged it for full orchestra. His teacher, Carl Friedrich Zelter, had suggested to his outstandingly gifted pupil that composing works for string orchestra would serve as fine exercises. They remained unpublished until they were rediscovered in the Berlin State Library in the 1950s.


JÖRG WIDMANN  Versuch über die Fuge for Soprano, Oboe, and Chamber Orchestra

Versuch über die Fuge was first composed in 2005 as Widmann’s String Quartet No. 5, a work that completed his five-quartet cycle. The arrangement for soprano, oboe, and string orchestra was commissioned by the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Stuttgarter Kammerorchester.


MOZART  Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546

For the K. 546 Fugue, Mozart arranged an earlier piece for two pianos—the Fugue in C Minor, K. 426—which he had written after becoming preoccupied with Bach’s fugal writing. Prefacing the Fugue, he added a dotted-rhythm Adagio that displays equally adventurous harmony and modulations.


JÖRG WIDMANN  180 Beats Per Minute

180 Beats Per Minute was written while Widmann was in college, inspired by the “techno-nights” popular at the time. Admittedly out of character for the composer, the piece shows a striking resemblance to the minimalist style.


WEBER  Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major, Op. 34

Weber was inspired to write the Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major for virtuoso clarinetist Heinrich Baermann, who was also the inspiration for works by Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer. Yet it was Weber’s work—with its buoyant melodies, shameless virtuosity, and light textures—that gained most renown.


Irish Chamber Orchestra

The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is Ireland’s most dynamic ensemble. Mixing traditional repertoire with new commissions and collaborating with everyone from DJs to dance companies, ...

The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is Ireland’s most dynamic ensemble. Mixing traditional repertoire with new commissions and collaborating with everyone from DJs to dance companies, ICO pushes the boundaries of what a chamber orchestra can do. Wherever the group performs, ICO delivers world-class concerts feted for their energy and style.

Each year, Ireland’s busiest chamber ensemble presents concert seasons in both Limerick and Dublin, embarks on two national tours, and makes a series of prestigious international appearances supported by Culture Ireland. The artistic committee works closely with the artistic partners to devise exciting, diverse, and innovative programs, mixing standard repertoire with new works—often specially commissioned—from the best young Irish composers. This versatile approach enables ICO to appeal to music fans of every stripe while upholding the highest artistic standards.

The driving force behind ICO’s recent success is Principal Conductor and Artistic Partner Jörg Widmann, a composer, conductor, and clarinetist whose irrepressible energy and pursuit of excellence has enabled ICO to expand its horizons and attract outstanding international performers such as Tabea Zimmermann, Igor Levit, and Elisabeth Leonskaja. The last five years have seen ICO perform at leading concert halls and festivals across Europe and release a series of acclaimed recordings on the prestigious ORFEO label. ICO recently completed a three-year residency at Heidelberger Frühling and is currently orchestra-in-residence at Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Mr. Widmann’s enthusiasm and commitment is matched by the orchestra itself, led by the ebullient Katherine Hunka, and comprising 22 outstanding musicians. ICO’s special rapport, forged over 20 years of playing—and sometimes singing—together, creates the unique sound that has captivated audiences all over the world.

At the heart of the orchestra’s vision is the belief that music is for everyone. ICO has implemented an ambitious and far-reaching strategy that aims to take music out of the concert hall and into the local community, inspiring children to try music for themselves, and supporting them on their journey from first lesson to public performance.

ICO’s groundbreaking initiative, Sing Out with Strings, offers primary-school children in Limerick the chance to learn music. Now in its 11th year, the project has been hailed as a model of social inclusion, offering opportunities for young people, developing key life skills, and providing tangible long-term benefits for participants, their families, and the wider community.

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Jörg Widmann

Clarinetist, composer, and conductor Jörg Widmann is one of the most versatile and intriguing artists of his generation. As holder of the 2019–2020 Richard and Barbara Debs ...

Clarinetist, composer, and conductor Jörg Widmann is one of the most versatile and intriguing artists of his generation. As holder of the 2019–2020 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, his work is featured throughout the Hall’s season.

Mr. Widmann is also an artist in residence at the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, and Bergen International Festival. His chamber music performances include concerts with longstanding collaborators Sir András Schiff, Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Tabea Zimmermann, Antoine Tamestit, and the Hagen Quartet, and at venues and festivals such as the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Salzburg Festival, and Vienna’s Konzerthaus. In addition, he conducts the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan), Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Hessian State Orchestra in Wiesbaden, Germany.

In recent seasons, Mr. Widmann has been an artist in residence at the Lucerne and Salzburg festivals, as well as the Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, BOZAR, and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. He has been a featured guest at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Kölner Philharmonie, and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus.

As a composer, Mr. Widmann’s works have been recognized with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2009 Elise L. Stoeger Prize, Paul Hindemith Prize, Arnold Schönberg Prize, and Berliner Philharmoniker’s Claudio Abbado Composition Prize. Daniel Barenboim, Daniel Harding, Valery Gergiev, Kent Nagano, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons, and Sir Simon Rattle program his compositions regularly. His works have been premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

As a clarinetist, Mr. Widmann performs frequently with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, he gave the world premiere of Mark Andre’s über for Clarinet, Orchestra, and Live Electronics at the Donaueschinger Festival. Other clarinet concertos dedicated to and written for him include Wolfgang Rihm’s Musik für Klarinette und Orchester and Aribert Reimann’s Cantus.

Mr. Widmann studied composition with Kay Westermann, Wilfried Hiller, and Wolfgang Rihm. He studied clarinet with Gerd Starke in Munich and Charles Neidich at The Juilliard School in New York.

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Claron McFadden

American soprano Claron McFadden graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has been living in the Netherlands since 1984. She is known for her varied repertoire, ranging from Baroque ...

American soprano Claron McFadden graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has been living in the Netherlands since 1984. She is known for her varied repertoire, ranging from Baroque to contemporary music, which has led her to work with conductors such as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Frans Brüggen, and Sir Andrew Davis.

Ms. McFadden has sung the title role in Lulu at Glyndebourne, Zerbinetta in the Dutch National Opera’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, and the title role in Cavalli’s Didone at Teatro alla Scala with Fabio Biondi. She has also been hailed for her unique interpretation of contemporary music with many world premieres to her credit, including works by Harrison Birtwistle, Jörg Widmann, and Michel van der Aa.

Ms. McFadden has participated in several projects that combine different art forms, like Alain Platel’s Pitié! and Ruben van Leer’s dance film Symmetry, filmed at CERN. She is frequently asked to join improvising musicians such as Kris Defoort and is a regular member of the David Kweksilber Big Band. She also performs with the Arditti Quartet and Klangforum Wien.

Ms. McFadden is artist-in-residence at Muziektheater Transparant and has realized several multidisciplinary projects: Lilith (2012), Secrets (2015), Nightshade: Aubergine (2017), and last season’s Façade: The Last Days of Mata Hari, Mitra, and Harriet.

In 2002, Ms. McFadden was nominated for a Grammy Award, and in 2007, she was awarded the Amsterdam Prize for the Arts by the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts. She is a member of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and her TEDx Talk in 2010 was selected to be shown on the TED website. In 2015, she was on the jury of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. In May 2019, she received from the Operadagen Rotterdam, a special prize in recognition of her wide range of repertoire.

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