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We welcome young cello sensation Miriam K. Smith, who will perform Cello Concerto in A minor by Saint-Saëns. Fresh from performances with the Cincinnati and Louisville Symphonies, we are excited to showcase this amazingly gifted young woman. The Secret Marriage Overture, a forgotten gem by Cimarosa will open the concert, and we close with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, the sunniest of is even numbered symphonies.
Cimarosa | Il matrimonio segreto: Overture (1792) [7']
Saint-Saëns | Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op 33 [19']
Beethoven | Symphony No. 8, Op. 93 [26']
MIRIAM K. SMITH, an 12-year old American cellist, is rapidly gaining recognition as a concert soloist. She made her orchestral debut at age 8 playing the complete Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major with the Seven Hills Sinfonietta. Previous engagements have included her debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Louisville Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations for multiple children’s concerts, and featured soloist with the Wright State Chamber Orchestra. Future engagements will be with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in 2019 and the Blue Ash Montgomery Orchestra. She has performed in recital at Carnegie Hall twice as 1st place winner of American Protégé International and American Fine Arts Festival competitions, as well as Cleveland Orchestra Rainbow concerts, and the 2016 and 2017 Emerging Artists series of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, VT. Her summer 2018 includes solo recitals given in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Blowing Rock, NC, and Burlington, VT. Miriam has played in public master class for cellists such as Alisa Weilerstein, Peter Wiley, Richard Aaron, and Alan Harris. Ms. Smith’s primary studies have been with Sarah Kim and Alan Rafferty since she began cello at age 4.
by Norman Gilliland
In the course of about thirty years, Domenico Cimarosa wrote eighty operas, most of which were comedies. Il matrimonio segreto: (The Secret Marriage) of 1792 is far and away his best known and was internationally popular well into the nineteenth century. It was based on the play The Clandestine Marriage by London theatrical superstars George Colman the Elder and David Garrick. At its debut in Vienna, Emperor Leopold II enjoyed the opera so much that as the applause died down he ordered dinner for everyone in the company, after which the entire opera was to be repeated. After successes in various European cities, the opera had its American debut in 1834 and was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1937, on which occasion it got its best unintended laugh when soprano Natalie Bodanya pressed on with her aria even while her underskirt fell off.
Camille Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy who entered the prestigious Paris Conservatory in 1848 at the age of 13. In addition to his musical abilities, he excelled in languages and science and was a published astronomer. His long life spanned the years from the time of Frederic Chopin to the early career of George Gershwin. He wrote his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor in 1872, following the example of Liszt and Schumann in eschewing the traditional three-concerto movement structure in favor of a single continuous work consisting of three tightly-bound sections.
Dominating the first section is a boisterous call-and-response between the cello and the orchestra. The second section harks back to the 18th century, when symphonies typically included minuets. And the finale not only refers back to the beginning of the concerto but also introduces new themes for the cello. Although it’s notoriously difficult for cellists, many composers consider this work the best of all concertos for the instrument.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F is in some ways a throwback to its 18th century predecessors, which had a third movement is a minuet. But it also runs roughshod over 18th century conventions by skipping the usual slow introduction and shifting through unexpected keys in the first movement. The mechanical rhythm of the second movement may be a wink at Beethoven’s friend Johann Neopmuk Maelzel, the inventor of the metronome. And the finale of the symphony has a giant coda that takes up almost half of the movement.
Beethoven scheduled the debut of the symphony for February 27, 1814, during a hefty concert that also included his new Seventh Symphony, his Op. 116 Trio for soprano, tenor, bass and orchestra, and his noisy novelty Wellington’s Victory. Although the Seventh stole the show, a reviewer at the first performance blamed the overlong program rather than any “weakness or artistic failure” for the Eighth’s failure to be as popular as the Seventh.
Beethoven’s somehow finished the cheerful symphony while staying in Linz with his younger brother Johann, who was having an affair with his housekeeper. Beethoven was so vehement in his disapproval of the liaison and the woman in question that he complained not just to his brother, but to the police and the local bishop. Johann retaliated by marrying the housekeeper.