UC Davis Symphony Orchestra: “Fate and Alter Ego”
Christian Baldini, director and conductor
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
This program features Philip Glass’s popular first concerto for violin, with his iconic sound: open, full of motion, and yet without a lot of tonal changes. The soloist is Chase Spruill, who is a champion of Glass’s violin music. This contrasts with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony: regal and full of dueling themes, and which also features one of his best waltzes. Also on the program is the winner of this year’s Concerto Competition, computer science major Katie Sharp, and the orchestra’s principal trumpet player. She will perform the first movement of Haydn’s trumpet concerto.
Glass: Violin Concerto No. 1
with Chase Spruill
Philip Glass’s First Violin Concerto was his first piece written for the concert hall. Unlike many of his previous works—operas, film scores, and more—the piece is thrilling on its own without added audio-visual elements. The piece features a moving first movement, a romantic second, and a rousing finale that fades gently away like a wonderful memory. As the composer said in a biography, “I composed the piece in 1987 thinking, let me write a piece that my father would have liked. . . . A very smart nice man who had no education in music whatsoever, but the kind of person who fills up concert halls. They’re the people that keep the whole business going.”
Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth is—to borrow a phrase from Star Wars—a duel of fates. In his letters at the time to his benefactor, Nadezhda von Meck, we might infer the Fifth Symphony’s duel of two fates might reflect Tchaikovsky inner conflict between an artist that has no creativity left, and an artist that still has his greatest work and successes yet to come.
Haydn: Allegro from Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat
Katie Sharp – Winner of the Concerto Competition
and undergraduate major in computer science
About the Soloists
Violinist Chase Spruill has an international reputation as a performer of contemporary music. In 2020, BBC Music Magazine hailed his debut solo album of the music of British composer Michael Nyman, calling him, “…an engaging and convincing advocate…who plays with great spirit…and a great sense of presence…” In 2021, Strings Magazine listed him as being one of the noteworthy interpreters of the music of Philip Glass. His long-standing relationship to the music of Glass includes multiple appearances on the composer’s own record label Orange Mountain Music, as well as collaborations touring, recording and performing as a duo alongside longtime music director of the Philip Glass Ensemble Michael Riesman. In 2022, Spruill released a follow-up solo album called Philip Glass: A Common Time in collaboration with the composer and as a meditation on grief in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests across the country. Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio called the recording “… profound and emotional…,” while the French Classical Magazine DIAPASON hailed it as having, “…a poignant intensity….” Composer Magazine raved, “…the whole album is a wonderful listening experience.” His recordings across all digital platforms have together achieved over 1.3 million listeners.
As a passionate educator, he was a core faculty member with the Nationally celebrated Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island for five years, and a Visiting Professor of Violin at Wheaton College in Massachussets for three. He returned to his hometown in Vacaville in 2017 to develop and run the music program at Sierra Vista K–8 where he remains on faculty. In 2018, he was appointed Concertmaster of Camellia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Christian Baldini. He was also recently appointed permanent Concertmaster for the Auburn Symphony in 2022 under their new music director, Maestro Ryan Murray.