contemplation - Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

contemplation - Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Basilica Series II:



Lecce-Chong conductor

Basilica of St. Josaphat

Friday, April 12, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Basilica Series II:



April 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Saturday April 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Francesco Lecce-Chong conductor


Thank you for joining the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for our 2012.13 Basilica Series.

Having had the opportunity to conduct several performances in the Basilica Series last

season, I used the space itself as my primary source of inspiration in planning these

concerts. When I first enter the Basilica, I am always awe-struck by the expansiveness and

grandeur surrounding me. However, as I sit in quiet contemplation, the space begins to feel

more intimate, and I become more aware of the sacred and profound aspects. It is amazing

how such a huge external space can inspire internal reflection.

With that in mind, our three programs this season explore the composer as philosopher.

Most orchestral works bear such non-descript titles as “Symphony” and “Concerto,” making

it easy to forget that compositions are never written solely as entertainment for the listener.

Like writers and artists, every work is a composer’s personal statement. Through music,

many composers comment on the philosophical issues of their days, such as the search



The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross


Sonata I — “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Sonata II — “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Sonata III — “Woman, here is your son.”

Sonata IV — “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Sonata V — “I thirst.”

Sonata VI — “It is finished.”

Sonata VII — “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

The Earthquake

for happiness, the fear of death or the existence of God.


The Unanswered Question

The music I have chosen for these programs reflects a great variety of styles from composers

both popular and neglected, but these pieces represent some of the most intensely personal


Prelude and “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde

works from the composer. The musicians and I are very excited to share this special journey

with you, and we hope you will find our programs invigorating for your mind and soul alike.


Francesco Lecce-Chong

MSO Associate Conductor

The length of the concert is approximately 1 hour 50 minutes.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra can be heard on Naxos, Telarc, Koss Classics, Pro Arte, AVIE, and Vox/Turnabout recordings. MSO Classics recordings (digital only)

available on iTunes and at MSO Binaural recordings (digital only) are available at


About the Artists

Conductor’s Insight by Francesco Lecce-Chong

Francesco Lecce-Chong


American conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, currently Associate Conductor of the

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO), is active with the orchestral and operatic

repertories on the international stage. In his role with the MSO, Mr. Lecce-Chong works closely

with renowned Music Director Edo de Waart and is directly responsible for leading over forty

subscription, tour, education and community concert performances annually. During the MSO’s

2012.13 season, Mr. Lecce-Chong has taken the podium for an acclaimed gala concert with Itzhak

Perlman, led the orchestra through its statewide tour of Wisconsin and conducted a special

three-week series at Milwaukee’s Basilica of St. Josaphat.

A list of Mr. Lecce-Chong’s international appearances include leading the Hong Kong Philharmonic

Orchestra (China), Pitesti Philharmonic (Romania), Ruse Philharmonic, (Bulgaria), and the Sofia

Festival Orchestra (Italy). Equally at ease in the opera house, Mr. Lecce-Chong has served as principal

conductor for the Brooklyn Repertory Opera and as staff conductor and pianist for the Santa Fe

Opera. He has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances

that have garnered national distinction. Mr. Lecce-Chong is a 2012 recipient of The Solti Foundation

Career Assistance Award and The Presser Foundation Presser Music Award. He is also the recipient

of the N.T. Milani Memorial Conducting Fellowship and the George and Elizabeth Gregory Award for

Excellence in Performance.

As a trained pianist and composer, Mr. Lecce-Chong embraces innovate programming, champions

the work of new composers and, by example, supports arts education. His 2012.13 season

presentations include two MSO commissioned works, two United States premieres and twelve

works by composers actively working worldwide. He brings the excitement of new music to

audiences of all ages through special presentations embodying diverse program repertoire and

the use of unconventional performance spaces. Mr. Lecce-Chong also provides artistic leadership

for the MSO’s nationally lauded Arts in Community Education (ACE) program — one of the largest

arts integration programs in the country. He is a frequent guest speaker at organizations around

Milwaukee and hosts, Behind the Notes, the MSO’s preconcert lecture series.

Mr. Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of sixteen.

He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree

with honors in piano and orchestral conducting. Mr. Lecce-Chong also holds a diploma from the

Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied as a Martin and Sarah Taylor Fellow with renowned

pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. He currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Follow his blog, Finding Exhilaration, at

Throughout history,

composers have explored

the philosophical issues of their

day through music. Two famous

examples come from Mozart

and Beethoven. Mozart’s opera,

The Magic Flute is based on

Masonic principals and in

Beethoven’s immortal Ninth

Symphony, the “Ode to Joy”

embraces the unifying outlook

of Friedrich Schiller. This

weekend, I am delighted to

share with you three other

important works that ask for our

contemplation of their message.

Hadyn: The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross

Up until about 1850, most philosophical movements centered on religion and

humankind’s relationship with God. Almost all music written at that time

expressed the same, with the exception of the absolute music of symphonies

and concerti which were based on musical form. Not being one of the latter,

The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross is Haydn’s masterful meditation on

the last sayings of Jesus. We are fortunate to have some wonderful insight from

Haydn himself about the inception of the work:

Some fifteen years ago I was requested by a canon of Cádiz to compose

instrumental music on the seven last words of Our Savior on the Cross.

It was customary at the Cathedral of Cádiz to produce an oratorio every year

during Lent, the effect of the

performance being not a little

enhanced by the following

circumstances. The walls,

windows, and pillars of the

church were hung with black

cloth, and only one large lamp

hanging from the center of the

roof broke the solemn darkness.

At midday, the doors were closed

and the ceremony began. After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit,

pronounced the first of the seven words (or sentences) and delivered a discourse

thereon. This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar. The

interval was filled by music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the

second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion

of each discourse. My composition was subject to these conditions, and it was

no easy task to compose seven adagios lasting ten minutes each, and to succeed

one another without fatiguing the listeners; indeed, I found it quite impossible to

confine myself to the appointed limits.


Today, The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross is most commonly heard

arranged for string quartet, and during Haydn’s lifetime it was known as an

oratorio with chorus. However, the original version (and the only direct version



Conductor’s Insight

Conductor’s Insight

in Haydn’s words:

“Each sonata is

expressed by purely

instrumental music in

such a fashion that it

produces the deepest

impression in the

soul even of the most

uninstructed listener.”

from Haydn’s hand) from 1801 was written for a standard classical orchestra. Haydn

did not consider it to be concert suitable, and that is partly why this version has

been neglected. He conducted it as an oratorio with chorus many times, because

he considered the original to be more appropriate in its intended environment:

in a church with the text spoken between the movements. I have to admit that

the moment I walked into the Basilica over a year ago, I have been waiting for an

opportunity to bring this work here to recreate Haydn’s first conception.

There are seven “sonatas” that present us with each of the seven sayings. They are

framed by an introductory movement and a final movement, representing the

earthquake. Each of the sonatas’ opening melodic lines coincide rhythmically with

the syllabic underlay of the Latin text of each of the last words. Haydn included the

text in the score to make his intent perfectly clear:

F. Holland Day, The Seven Last Words of Christ, 1898, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross English with Latin text


I. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals,

one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know

what they are doing.”

Pater, dimitte illis, quia nesciunt, quid faciunt. Luke 23:34

from the opening of Sonata I

Haydn employed a remarkable number of compositional tactics to keep the listener engaged

for the entire hour-long duration of the work. His orchestration demonstrates careful planning

in the occasional use of flutes and extra horns, in order to save the trumpets and timpani until

the final earthquake. His technique varies greatly, ranging from empty unisons to delicate

melodies to thick, pounding chords. He even pushed the boundaries of dissonance and

harmonic cohesion of his time to express the suffering of Christ. One can clearly see how

he cherished this above all his works and it is revolutionary in the way it seeks to inspire the

listener to inward contemplation. As Haydn himself noted: “Each sonata is expressed by purely

instrumental music in such a fashion that it produces the deepest impression in the soul even

of the most uninstructed listener.”







II. One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah?

Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under

the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are

getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said,

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you

will be with me in Paradise.”

Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso. Luke 23:43

III. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his

mother, “Woman, here is your son.”

Mulier, ecce filius tuus. John 19: 26 –7

IV. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Deus meus, Deus meus, utquid dereliquisti me? Mark 15: 34

V. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.”

Sitio. John 19: 28

VI. A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop

and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”

Consummatum est. John 19: 30

VII. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said

this, he breathed his last.

In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. Luke 23:46

Haydn with Mozart, his student



Conductor’s Insight

Conductor’s Insight

Charles Ives 1874 –1954

in ives’s words:

“… as the time goes

on, and after a “secret

conference”, [the

sections] seem to realize

a futility, and begin to

mock “The Question”

— the strife is over for

the moment.”

Ives: The Unanswered Question

Subsequently, Romantic era composers would make grand philosophical works like the

Seven Last Words commonplace (think Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra

or Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony). Just a little after that came one of the most effective

works in this genre, The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives. This brief, but evocative piece

was written in 1906 as part of a pair of works titled “Two Contemplations”. There are three

independent sections within the ensemble: strings sustaining ethereal chords, a calmly

melodic solo trumpet and four wind players to contrast the trumpet. Once again, I will let Ives

speak for himself:

The strings are to represent “the Silences of the Druids — Who Know,

See and Hear Nothing.” The trumpet intones “The Perennial Question of

Existence”, and states it in the same tone of voice each time. But the hunt

for “The Invisible Answer” undertaken by the winds, becomes gradually

more active, fast and louder. “The Fighting Answerers”, as the time goes on,

and after a “secret conference”, seem to realize a futility, and begin to mock

“The Question” — the strife is over for the moment. After they disappear,

“The Question” is asked for the last time, and “The Silences” are heard

beyond in “Undisturbed Solitude.”

The piece is vague enough to have puzzled, fascinated and haunted both musicians

and audiences alike for the past century. It even became the title of a series of famous

lectures given by Leonard Bernstein at Harvard on the universality of music.

Leonard Bernstein at Harvard


Wagner: Prelude and “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde

Richard Wagner

1813 – 1883

In stark contrast to Ives’ compact look at the question of existence,

Wagner’s opera, Tristan and Isolde, is a four-hour long epic on

the same question (and one could argue that it does no better

at resolving it!). Unfortunately, it is easy to get stuck on the

surface of the storyline with magic potions and love affairs.

However, the plot begins to make more sense when we look

at it through the philosophical lens of Arthur Schopenhauer.

Wagner was immediately taken by Schopenhauer’s idea of

two worlds with which we struggle — one in which we are

consumed by desires and dreams and the other where we

fail against the unknowable reality. So when Tristan and Isolde

seem to be pathetically lamenting their impossible love for hours

on end, it is actually a vehicle for discussion about the two worlds

of human desire and reality.

We finish our concert with the Prelude and “Love-Death” from Tristan

and Isolde — the beginning and the end of the opera. The Prelude

beautifully sets up this opera, giving us the famous “musical question” in the opening cello line and

wind chords. The music then seems to contemplate the question of existence along with us, nearly

finding answers, but

always falling back into

darkness. Suddenly,

the music takes on an

assertive quality when

we reach the “Love-

Death.” It starts with a

far away breath, but

then steadily builds

in intensity. In an

ecstatic trance, Isolde

decides that she would

rather die than give

into the cold reality

of life without Tristan.

Interestingly enough,

Wagner would return

to this same question in Parsifal, but this time the hero chooses to overcome his desires in order to

face reality. So in the end, like any good evening filled with philosophical undertakings, we leave

with more questions than when we started — perhaps only learning that magic potions are best

left untouched.


2012.13 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

edo de waart

Music Director

Polly and Bill Van Dyke

Music Director Chair


Associate Conductor

Lee Erickson

Chorus Director

Margaret Hawkins Chorus

Director Chair

Timothy J. Benson

Assistant Chorus Director


Frank Almond, Concertmaster

Charles and Marie Caestecker

Concertmaster Chair

Ilana Setapen, Associate Concertmaster

Jeanyi Kim, Associate Concertmaster

Third Chair

Karen Smith

Anne de Vroome Kamerling,

Associate Concertmaster Emeritus

Michael Giacobassi

Peter Vickery

Dylana Leung

Andrea Wagoner

Lynn Horner

Zhan Shu

Margot Schwartz

David Anderson

Robin Petzold**


Jennifer Startt, Principal

Timothy Klabunde, Assistant Principal

Taik-ki Kim

Lisa Johnson Fuller

Shirley Rosin

Juliette Williams**

Paul Mehlenbeck

Janice Hintz

Les Kalkhof

Glenn Asch

Mary Terranova

Laurie Shawger


Robert Levine, Principal

Richard O. and Judith A. Wagner

Family Principal Viola Chair

Wei-ting Kuo, Assistant Principal

Friends of Janet F. Ruggeri Viola Chair

Erin H. Pipal

Sara Harmelink

Larry Sorenson

Nathan Hackett

Norma Zehner

David Taggart

Helen Reich


Susan Babini, Principal

Dorothea C. Mayer Cello Chair

Scott Tisdel, Associate Principal

Peter Szczepanek

Gregory Mathews

Peter J. Thomas

Elizabeth Tuma

Laura Love

Margaret Wunsch

Adrien Zitoun

Kathleen Collisson


Zachary Cohen, Principal*

Donald B. Abert Bass Chair

Andrew Raciti, Acting Principal

Rip Prétat, Acting Assistant Principal

Laura Snyder

Maurice Wininsky

Catherine McGinn

Scott Kreger

Roger Ruggeri


Danis Kelly, Principal

Walter Schroeder Harp Chair


Sonora Slocum, Principal

Margaret and Roy Butter Flute Chair

Jeani Foster, Assistant Principal

Jennifer Bouton


Jennifer Bouton


Katherine Young Steele, Principal

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League

Oboe Chair

Martin Woltman, Assistant

Principal Emeritus

Margaret Butler, Acting

Assistant Principal


Margaret Butler, Acting Philip and

Beatrice Blank English Horn Chair

in memoriam to John Martin


Todd Levy, Principal

Franklyn Esenberg Clarinet Chair

Kyle Knox, Assistant Principal

Donald and Ruth P. Taylor Assistant

Principal Clarinet Chair

William Helmers


Kyle Knox


William Helmers


Theodore Soluri, Principal

Muriel C. and John D. Silbar Family

Bassoon Chair

Rudi Heinrich, Assistant Principal

Beth W. Giacobassi


Beth W. Giacobassi


Matthew Annin, Principal

Krause Family French Horn Chair

Krystof Pipal, Associate Principal

Dietrich Hemann

Andy Nunemaker French Horn Chair

Darcy Hamlin

Joshua Phillips


Dennis Najoom, Co-Principal

Martin J. Krebs Co-Principal

Trumpet Chair

Alan Campbell

Fred Fuller Trumpet Chair


Megumi Kanda, Principal

Marjorie Tiefenthaler Trombone Chair

Kirk Ferguson, Assistant Principal


John Thevenet


Randall Montgomery, Principal


Dean Borghesani, Principal

Thomas Wetzel, Associate Principal


Thomas Wetzel, Principal

Robert Klieger, Assistant Principal


Wilanna Kalkhof

Melitta S. Pick Endowed Chair


Linda Unkefer

Rip Prétat, Assistant


Patrick McGinn, Principal Librarian

Anonymous Donor,

Principal Librarian Chair


Kyle Remington Norris

* Leave of Absence 2012.13 Season

** Acting member of the Milwaukee

Symphony Orchestra 2012.13 Season

Basilica season finale | 17 + 18 May 2013

Basilica Series III:


Francesco Lecce-Chong conductor | Jennifer Startt violin

Prokofiev Andante, Opus 50 bis, from String Quartet No. 1

Weinberg Symphony No. 2 — U.S. Premiere

Vaughan Williams Concerto in D minor for Violin and Orchestra,“Concerto accademico”

Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis




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