Trio for Harp, Flute and Viola was first heard as a Romance for Harp and Orchestra, commissioned by harpist Gillian Benet. Incorporating the original harp part, Ron McFarland wrote the new version for principal harpist Douglas Rioth, flutist Linda Lukas and violist Christina King of the San Francisco Symphony. An opening section consisting of a series of themes is followed by a central Andante. A lively Scherzo is next with good-humored bantering between the harp and the flute/viola duet. The work ends with recapitulation in varied form of the earlier material.
Four Songs in Blue were written on poems of McFarland's friend Patrick Emery Carr, whose text are heard in numerous songs by Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and others. Mr. McFarland regretted that he had not written the promised songs before Carr's untimely death. He had also promised Sara Ganz that he would have new songs for her next recital. The two promises came together in the Four Songs in Blue, written in a popular style close to the styles of the other songs using Patrick Carr's lyrics.
Sonata for Violin and Piano opens with a Largo theme for the violin, followed immediately by a strong imitation in the piano part and developed as a Prelude to an energetic Toccata. One reviewer described the second movement as "a night scene creating a spell of quiet beauty." The Tempo de giga tht follows makes considerable demands on both violinist and pianist, contrapuntal and chromatic, with, however, a sense of tonality.
Six Les Hommages Piano Preludes are taken from a larger set of 24, and pay homage to ten of McFarland's favorite 20th-century composers, and two from the 19th. He has written 24 character pieces in 24 major and minor keys from original material, using a musical characteristic or style of each composer. All 24 preludes have a thematic unity, with the exception of the Lisztian paraphrases of the love theme and finale from McFarland's opera The Dinner Party. The complete set has been recorded by pianist Elaine Lust on the Ron McFarland Chamber Works CD (Con Molto Music).
Lear and Cordelia: To open his second season as artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Edward Hastings commissioned McFarland to write the incidental music for King Lear. At the end of the run he asked McFarland to create a suite from the music that could be performed in concert. Hastings then had it performed on BBC's Desert Island Discs as one of the pieces of music that he would want with him as a castaway. This performance includes Peter Donat and Fredi Olster, ACT's original Lear and Cordelia, with the ACT Ensemble of wind instruments (flute, clarinet, two trumpets, two horns and trombone) harp and percussion conducted by John Johnson. The suite is built around the conversations and confrontations between King Lear and his beloved daughter Cordelia.
"King Lear, without all the words and theatrics, and in a half-hour instead of three. Perfect!"
The Artists: Trio for Harp, Flute and Viola
Douglas Rioth, harp, joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1981 and made his Symphony solo debut in 1984. Born in Missouri, Mr. Rioth studied with Alice Chalifoux and Elisa Smith Dickon. He attended the Interlochen Arts Academy of the Cleveland Institute of Music as a fellowship student. He has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Orchestra and in chamber music with San Francisco Symphony colleagues in Chamber Music Sundaes, the Caselli Ensemble and in the Sunday Afternoon Chamber Music series. He has been featured on NBC News Overnight and has been a regular participant in the prestigious Salzedo Summer Harp Colony in Camden, Maine.
Linda Lukas, flute, joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1990. She holds degrees from Ohio State University, the University of Iowa and the Ecole Normale de Musique of Paris. She has served as principal flute in the San Diego Chamber Orchestra and the Pacific Chamber Ensemble. Currently, she is a member of the Arioso Wind Quintet and is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Christina King, violin, joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1996. She has been a member of the Tucscon Symphony and principal violinist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She received a Master's in Music from Northwestern University and an AB in English from Barnard College/Columbia University.
The Artists: Four Songs in Blue
Sara Ganz, soprano, is well-known for her performances of opera, oratorio and concerts. Her long association with the San Francisco Opera has included the Merla Opera program, Western Opera Theater, San Francisco Opera Center, and appearances in the fall season productions. During her seven seasons at the Carmel Bach Festival, Ms Ganz performed the Mozart soubrette roles, as well as Bach cantatas. She has received awards from the Metropolitan Opera auditions, the International Concourse in Geneva, Switzerland and NATS auiditions. Ms Ganz is on the faculty at Mills College and San Francisco State University.
Ron McFarland, piano.
The Artists: Sonata for Violin and Piano
Lisa Lhee, violin, is a graduate of the Konservatorium de Bera in Switzerland, where she studied with Igor Ozim. She is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well. She has studied with such distinguished teachers as Zaven Melikian, Dorothy DeLay, Robert Lipsett and Abrasha Stern. She has been a violiniwst with the Bern Symphony in Bern, Switzerland, the Inchon Symphony at the Arts Center in Seoul, Korea, and the California Youth Symphony, winning their Young Artists Competition. Other awards include The Young Musicians award sponsored by the San Francisco Symphony/Pepsi-Cola and the Pacific Musical Society Scholarship Competition.
Dmitri Cogan, piano, studied with Vladmir Pleshakov and Maria Cysic at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music after immigrating with his family from Russia in 1974. He received both an undergraduate and graduate degree in music from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Martin Canin. Mr. Cogan has performed in Russia and throughout the Northwestern United States, California, France and Asia. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition and the Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition.
The Artists: Les Hommages
Mack McCray, piano. One of the major pianists and teachers on the West Coast, this award-winning musician has been concertizing throughout the world since 1969 in such cities as Paris, Seville, Monte Carlo, Bucharest, Hong Kong and Tokyo. His recording of Adams Phrygian Gates (New Albion Records) was placed on the Best Recordings of the Year (1981) lists of both the New York Times and High-Fidelity-Musical-America. Mr. McCray has performed with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Joseph Krips, Leon Fleisher, and Arthur Fiedler. He has been on the piano faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory since 1971.
The Artists: Lear and Cordelia
Peter Donat, actor, born in Nova Scotia, attended the Yale School of Drama before beginning his professional career in the United States doing summer stock and several national tours. He was a member of Ellis Rabb's APA Company, spent seven seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Canada, appeared extensively on and off-Broadway (winning the Theater World Award for Best Featured Actor in 1957), and came to the American Conservatory Theater in 1968. Here he has played in more than fifty productions, including King Lear. He is often seen on television and in films, included Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather II.
Fredi Olster's extensive work in regional repertory theater includes several seasons at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she was Kate in Bill Ball's production of The Taming of the Shrew (televised on the PBS series Theater in America) and Cordelia in Ed Hasting's production of King Lear. She has also been a leading lady at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, portraying Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing among her many roles, with numerous guest appearances on television. She and her husband, Rich Hamilton, have co-authored a series of Shakespeare books for beginners published by Smith and Kraus.
John Johnson, conductor, made his Broadway conducting debut with Les Miserables, having served as associate conductor on the 2nd and 3rd National companies. John musically directed the U.S. premiere of Lust at the Walnut Street Theater as well as its Off Broadway production. In San Franciso he musically directed Sunday in the Park with George (Drama League Award), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and King Lear for the American Conservatory Theater while teaching singing and musical theater in their Master of Fine Arts program. Other credits include conducting Annie Get Your Gun, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and the original production of Nunsense.
American Conservatory Theater Ensemble
Mary Fettig, flute; Diane Maltester, clarinet; Jay Rizzetto and Charles Metzger, trumpets; Stuart Gronningen and Philip Munds, horns; Rodney Apfel, trombone, Karen Gottlieb, harp; Tom
Duckworth and Scott Bleaken, percussion