Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra
Octavio Más-Arocas, music director and conductor
Elizabeth Simkin, cello
Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra is inspired by my travels in Perú, my mother’s homeland. Born in the States, I did not begin these fateful trips until my time as a graduate student at the University of Michigan where my teachers encouraged me to answer questions of identity that long persisted for me: What does it mean to be American born yet with such a motley crew of forbearers hailing from Lithuania, China, and Andean South America? For more than twenty years, I’ve been answering this question, with each piece raising yet more to address.
In four movements, Walkabout uses both musical and extra-musical influences. The first movement, Soliloquio Serrano, features our string principles prominently in an introspective yet lyrical “mountain soliloquy.” The second movement is lively and bold, a portrait of “huaracas,” the slingshot weapons favored by the soldiers employed during the 16th century in the dominant Inca empire. “Haillí,” the Quechua word for “prayer,” is our third movement and is both lyrical and passionate. The last movement, “Tarqueada” portrays, after a mysterious opening, one of my favorite scenes of Perú: A great parade of “tarka” flutists who can number up to a hundred at once. These musicians also blow whistles and beat a variety of different drums, creating a sonic effect of controlled chaos that never stops building.
Program note by Gabriela Lena Frank
Fredrick Kaufman wrote his "Kaddish" Cello Concerto (Kaddish is the Hebrew word a prayer for the dead) in 1985 in memory of his father and mother who died within six months of each other. Kaufman notes, "as I wrote the piece, I thought about my parents' personalities: my father, a devout and extremely intelligent man, with untapped musical talent a passionately erratic personality that reflected his strong Rumanian/Moldavian background – plus too many years of sweatshop work; my mother, a product of New York's lower-east-side poverty in the late 1920s and early 1930s, with a passion for life and fun, and a driving nervous energy that manifested itself into overt loquaciousness. Although the concerto is not programmatic in nature, I did think of the solo cello part with respect to the complexities of my father's passionate personality and the driving energy of the solo violin part for that of my mother. I also chose the cello as the solo instrument because of the magnificence of its sound and its capability to express pathos, warmth, and exhilaration in one breath."
The concerto, which is in one movement divided into two parts by a cadenza, received its first performance in New York City's Lincoln Center in 1985 by Yehuda Hannani. The work received a wonderful review in the New York Times and was nominated shortly there after for a Pullitzer Prize in music.
This was followerd by a world wide crtitcally acclaimed tour by the brilliant Russian cellist, Mark Drobinsky.
It has since won several awards and has been performed well over 100 times throughout the United States, Europe, South America, the Carribean, Scandinavia, Russia, Ukrain and Israel, where it was performed annually on the day of mourning for over ten years.
Program note provided by the composer
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was one of the most important Hungarian composers of the 20th century. Perhaps most commonly known as the developer of the Kodály method of music education, he was also an ethnomusicologist and a traveling composer who journeyed into various parts of his own homeland as well as other countries in Europe in order to collect musical ideas, particularly those relating to folk traditions. His travels in France brought impressionist influences as well, and he synthesized these eclectic styles into his own musical language.
His comic opera Háry János (from which the Suite is derived) is a showcase of the multitude of styles that Kodály mastered. It tells a story of a Hungarian Don Quixote—Háry János, an old soldier, sits in a tavern and tells the story of his fantastic adventures from his golden years. Both the opera and the suite begin with a musical sneeze, which in Hungarian superstition meant that the story that is followed must be true. Háry tells wildly exaggerated adventures: rescuing Kaiser Franz’s daughter Maria Luisa, who takes Háry and his lover Orzse to Vienna; single-handedly defeating Napoleon and his army; winning the Empress Bonaparte's heart, but triumphantly returning to his homeland to be with his true love.
The Suite does not precisely follow the dramatic arc of the opera but is nonetheless a fantastic showcase of various styles and orchestral colors that Kodály achieves in his compositions, ranging from a lyrical and melancholy song to triumphant battle scenes and marches.
Program note by Andrew J. Kim
Octavio Más-Arocas is a versatile and dynamic conductor whose achievements demonstrate his talent and musicianship. Más-Arocas is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, Principal Conductor of the Marquette Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, the Director of Orchestras and Professor of Orchestral Conducting at Ithaca College in New York, and Conductor-in-Residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.
An award-winner conductor, Mr. Más-Arocas won the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize at the Aspen Music Festival, the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Award, given by Kurt Masur, is the recipient of the Thelma A. Robinson Award from the Conductors Guild, a Prize Winner of the Third European Conductors Competition, and a winner of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain Conductors Competition. In 2012, Mr. Más-Arocas was selected by the League of American Orchestra to conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in a showcase event during the League’s National Conference in Dallas.
Chosen by Kurt Masur, Mr. Más-Arocas was awarded the prestigious Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship. Consequently, he worked as Maestro Masur’s assistant with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Helsinki Radio Orchestra, and made his German conducting debut with the Leipziger Symphonieorchester. The offer came after Mr. Más-Arocas’ New York debut concert sharing the podium with Maestro Masur and the Manhattan School of Music Symphony.
Mr. Más-Arocas served as Principal Conductor of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin, and held the positions of Director of Orchestral Studies and Opera Conductor at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin, Director of Orchestral Studies and Associate Professor of Conducting at the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music in Ohio, Director of Orchestras at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Resident Conductor of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee, and Assistant conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado. In 2013, simultaneously to his work with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Más-Arocas was the Resident Conductor of the Unicamp Symphony Orchestra in Campinas, Brazil, where he also was a Visiting Professor of conducting at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas. Mr. Más-Arocas spends part of his summers in the Grand Traverse area, where he continues his association as conductor at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. In addition, he has worked with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra as a regular cover conductor.
In the last few years Mr. Más-Arocas has conducted orchestra across North and South America and Europe including the Filarmonica George Enescu in Romania, the Orquesta de Valencia and Granada City Orchestra in Spain, the Leipziger Symphonieorchester in Germany, the Orquestra Sinfônica da Unicamp in Brazil, the Green Bay, Traverse City, Bluewater, Catskill, Clinton, Fort Worth, Spokane, Toledo, Phoenix, Memphis, Kansas City, and San Antonio Symphonies, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Symphony, the orchestras of Viana do Castelo and Artave in Portugal, the Interlochen Philharmonic, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Philharmonic, the Rosario Symphony in Argentina, Kharkov Symphony in Ukraine, the National Youth Orchestras of Portugal and Spain, the Pescara Symphony in Italy, the Amsterdam Brass in the Netherlands, and the Ciudad Alcala de Henares Symphony. In addition, Mr. Más-Arocas has served as assistant conductor at the Madrid Royal Opera House.
Mr. Más-Arocas was assistant conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra, which he conducted in subscription, family, and pops concerts. As the Resident Conductor at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival he conducted the Festival, Symphony, and Cumberland Orchestras. Other festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music,the Festival Internacional Carlos Gomes in Campinas, Brazil, the Interlochen Music Festival, the Bach Festival at Baldwin Wallace University, and the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.
His ability to work, inspire, and transform young talents has lead him to be a frequent guest conductor with prominent music education organizations and ensembles around the world. He has worked with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the national youth orchestras of Portugal and Spain, has conducted All-State Honor Orchestras, and has been in residence with university orchestras in Chicago, Cornell University, Portugal, and Brazil. Mr. Más-Arocas has lead tours with the National Youth Orchestra “Templarios” of Portugal, the Interlochen Symphony, the Baldwin Wallace Symphony, and toured Argentina with the Silleda Wind Symphony.
Mr. Más-Arocas is in demand as conducting teacher. He is on faculty of two of the world most competitive conducting workshops, the Cabrillo Festival Conducting Workshop and the Ithaca International Conducting Masterclass, and has taught at the Queens College Conducting Workshop in New York, and leads the very selective graduate orchestral conducting program at Ithaca College.
Mr. Más-Arocas is an alumnus of the prestigious American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, where he studied with David Zinman. He completed doctoral studies and his main mentors include Kurt Masur, Harold Farberman, and Emily Freeman Brown.
Included in the Washington Post's list of the 35 most significant women composers in history (August, 2017), identity has always been at the center of composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in Berkeley, California (September, 1972), to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces often reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own.
Moreover, she writes, "There's usually a story line behind my music; a scenario or character." While the enjoyment of her works can be obtained solely from her music, the composer's program notes enhance the listener's experience, for they describe how a piano part mimics a marimba or pan-pipes, or how a movement is based on a particular type of folk song, where the singer is mockingly crying. Even a brief glance at her titles evokes specific imagery: Leyendas (Legends): An Andean Walkabout; Cuentos Errantes (Wandering Songs); and La Llorona (The Crying Woman): Tone Poem for Viola and Orchestra. Frank’s compositions also reflect her virtuosity as a pianist — when not composing, she is a sought-after performer, specializing in contemporary repertoire.
Winner of a Latin Grammy and nominated for Grammys as both composer and pianist, Gabriela also holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and a USA Artist Fellowship given each year to fifty of the country’s finest artists. Her work has been described as “crafted with unself-conscious mastery” (Washington Post), “brilliantly effective” (New York Times), “a knockout” (Chicago Tribune) and “glorious” (Los Angeles Times). Gabriela Lena Frank is regularly commissioned by luminaries such as cellist Yo Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw, the King’s Singers, and the Kronos Quartet, as well as by the talents of the next generation such as conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin of the New York Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra. She has received orchestral commissions and performances from leading American orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony. In 2017, she completed her four-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony under maestro Leonard Slatkin, composing Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra, as well as a second residency with the Houston Symphony under Andrés Orozco-Estrada for whom she composed the Conquest Requiem, a large-scale choral/orchestral work in Spanish, Latin, and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Frank’s most recent premiere is Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiered by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States under the baton of conductor Marin Alsop. In the season of 2019-20, Fort Worth Opera will premiere Frank’s first opera, The Last Dream of Frida (with a subsequent performance by co-commissioner San Diego Opera) utilizing words by her frequent collaborator Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz.
Gabriela Lena Frank is the subject of several scholarly books including the W.W. Norton Anthology: The Musics of Latin America; Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers (Scarecrow Press); and In her Own Words(University of Illinois Press). She is also the subject of several PBS documentaries including Compadre Huashayo regarding her work in Ecuador composing for the Orquestra de Instrumentos Andinos comprised of native highland instruments; and Música Mestiza, regarding a workshop she led at the University of Michigan composing for a virtuoso septet of a classical string quartet plus a trio of Andean panpipe players. Música Mestiza, created by filmmaker Aric Hartvig, received an Emmy Nomination for best Documentary Feature in 2015.
Civic outreach is an essential part of Frank’s work. She has volunteered extensively in hospitals and prisons, with a recent project working with deaf African-American high school students in Detroit who rap in sign language. In 2017, Frank founded the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, a non-profit training institution that offers emerging composers short-term retreats at Gabriela’s two farms in Mendocino County, CA. Over two visits, participants receive artistic and professional mentorship from Gabriela as well as readings of works in progress by guest faculty master performers in advance of the works' public world premieres at the academy. In support of arts citizenship, the Academy also pairs participant composers and faculty performers with underrepresented rural communities in a variety of projects such as working with students at the Anderson Valley Junior/Senior High enrolled in basic music composition class.
During the 2018-2019 season, Frank leads four composer residencies across the US, including performances of her recent works as well as large-scale commissions: composer-in-residence with Philadelphia Orchestra through 2021, visiting artist-in-residence with Vanderbilt University, a composer residency with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and is the featured composer for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Music in Color concert series. In 2017, Frank founded the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music in Boonville, CA which provides mentorship, readings-to-premieres residencies, and commissions for emerging composers from diverse backgrounds in addition to fostering public school programs in low-arts rural public schools.
Frank attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned a B.A. (1994) and M.A. (1996). She studied composition with Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. At the University of Michigan, where she received a D.M.A. in composition in 2001, Gabriela studied with William Albright, William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton. She currently resides in Boonville, a small rural town in the Anderson Valley of northern California, with her husband Jeremy on their mountain farm, has a second home in her native Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, and travels frequently in South America.
Gabriela Lena Frank's music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.
Cellist and teacher, Elizabeth Simkin has been on the faculty at the IC School of Music since the fall of 1994. She is a founding and continuing member of Ensemble X, the Mellits consort, and several chamber music groups with friends and colleagues. Projects include the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, seven years on artist faculty at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, serving as US artistic ambassadors with her current dean, pianist Karl Paulnack, and return appearances at summer festivals such as Garth Newel, Olympic, Skaneateles, Heifetz, Chenango, Roycroft, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Chautauqua and others.
As a teacher, she strives to liberate her students towards ever deeper experiences of the magic of music. She carries and passes on some of the wisdom of her own teachers such as Carla Lumsden via Shinichi Suzuki and Toby Saks in childhood and Steven Doane, at Eastman and Oberlin. Just before coming to Ithaca, she studied with and served as teaching assistant, to her mentor the late master, Janos Starker.
Alumni from Elizabeth’s 25 years of professional teaching are now spread far and wide, carrying music in many ways; Orchestras, chamber music, conducting, composing, new music, improvising, playing in bands, teaching in public schools and privately and frequently touching base back to Ithaca. In addition to her work at Ithaca College, she enjoys working with younger students and leads the advanced cello program at the Ithaca Suzuki Institute each summer, and has a few students at Opus Ithaca community music school.
She has become increasingly interested in contemplative and service-oriented dimensions in music, and has nurtured this interest through exploring playing at the bedside for health care residents and their families, providing music for spiritual occasions and life transitions, collaborating with a storyteller, Regi Carpenter, and lots of lullaby-singing. For five years now, in partnership with Jayne Demakos, she has taught a course, “Exploring Music as Medicine” at IC.
She lives in Ithaca with her 15 year old son, Cole and their dog, Annabelle.
Fredrick Kaufman is the composer of over one hundred and forty compositions that have been performed worldwide by orchestras such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Czech Radio Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Czech Symphony Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Moldova Symphony Orchestra, Instrumental Ensemble of Grenoble, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra Novi Musici (Naples, Italy), Novi Sad Symphony Orchestra, Dominican Republic National Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, National Orchestra of Brazil, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestras and numerous orchestras and ensembles throughout the United States. His ballets have been danced by companies such as the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Batsheva Dance Company, the Bat-Dor Dance Company and the Pennsylvania Dance Theater.
Kaufman is a former Fulbright Scholar, and author of The African Roots of Jazz, a groundbreaking study that drew heavily upon his early musical life as a jazz trumpet player with the Woody Herman Band. He is the recipient of the Darius Milhaud Award in Composition from the Aspen Music Festival, and honors and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Ford Foundations, the California, Montana and Pennsylvania Arts Councils as well as the Norwegian Government.
His Pulitzer Prize nominated Holocaust composition Kaddish, which Bernard Holland of The New York Times described as "having the most expressive writing for strings to be heard today," has been performed over 100 times in the major concert halls of Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, South America, the Carribean Asia and throughout the United States. His works have received prizes at international competitions and have been performed throughout the world at major music festivals. Israeli television has paid tribute to him as a composer in the thirty-minute documentary film Fredrick Kaufman-Life of an Artist.
Critics from the: New York Times, Newark Star-Ledger, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Jerusalem Post, London Times, Perpignan Independent have described Kaufman's music as “striking…individual…an interesting combination of overwhelming pathos and infectious joy…brought one into the realm of musical genius”
His Kaminarimon (for Taiko drums and Flamenco dance) has been called "remarkable" and "stunning" and was voted as the number one classical composition of 2002 and "the most imaginative new work of the year" by music critic James Roos of The Miami Herald. String Quartet #6, "The Urban" was called "stunning" by New Yorker Magazine. The Quartet was nominated by Lukas Foss in 2007 for a Pulitzer Prize and his Grammy nominated Guernica Piano Concerto, recorded by Kemal Gekic and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra “absolutely brilliant” by the Prague Musical Review. The premiere performance took place at the Sibelius Concert Hall (Feb, ’13) in Prague and was a spectacular success. Kaufman’s recent recording Starts & Distances featuring the Florida Grand Opera was nominated for Grammy Award in 2016.
Kaufman currently resides with his artist wife Florence Kaufman in Miami Florida where he holds the distinguished position of Professor Emeritus in Composition at Florida International University.
Prior to that, he held the position of Composer in Residence for the University, a position that was created specifically for him and was the Founding Director of the School of Music for 10 years. He was formerly academic Dean of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin, the University of Montana , the Uinersity of London and the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Israel.
Alexander Fedoriouk began playing the cimbalom at the age of 7 in his home-town of Kolomyia, Ukraine. Growing up in the Carpathian mountains, he played at weddings in mountain villages in Ukraine and Moldavia. He studied music at the Kolomyia Music School, Chernivsty Musical College and received his Bachelor's degree in music from The Kiev State Conservatory. He studied ethnomusicology for his Masters Degree at Cleveland State University. He has performed as a soloist with New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Orchestra Nashville, Johnstown Symphony, Youngstown Youth Orchestra, New York Chamber Ensemble, The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, Troisty Muzyky Folk Ensemble, The Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, The Duquesne University Tamburitzans, Cheres and Harmonia. He appeared in the Ukrainian musical movies Pisne Kalynova and Namysto Dlia Berehyni. He recorded for movie soundtracks such as: Thruth About Chalie, Over my Dead Body, Obcina The Call of the Mountain and The Skull Key. He received awards at the national competition on folk instruments in 1987 and 1991 in Ukraine, and in Nebraska in 1997.
Since he has been in the United States he has been featured as a soloist on a number of recordings: The Art of the Cimbalom, Harmonia, Crossing Paths, Papa Duke, Herbie MAn and Sona Terra, Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, Forest Song, Stempenyu's Dream, Kruno Gypsy Jazz Guitar, Skin, Hazmat Modine, Nigel Pulsford, Balkans Without Borders, Balkanalia, Vessel of song, Eletfa, Pastures of Plenty, Gypsy Killer, Cheres, We Are One, Unblocked, The World in Our Backyard, Klezsqueese... He has recorded with Nigel Pulsford of Bush, legendary jazz flautist Herbie Mann and performed in Carnegie hall with John Cale of the Velvet Undeground.
Robert Finley McGregor
Benjamin Harrison Strait
Hannah Witmer (E.H.)
Bradley Johnson §
Donald Schweikert •
Laura Van Voris
Evan Schreiber •
Anna Damigella §
Timothy White (Bass)
Nicholas David Mathisen
Jack David Pesch
Kayla Marie Grady
• Principal in Lena Frank
§ Principal in Kodály
Concerts and Facilities
Ford Hall Stage Crew
Library of Ensemble Music
and her staff
* We would like to thank all professors of instrumental studios for their work.
March 21st, 2020 at 8:15pm – Gospel Festival Concert
High School Gospel Music Invitational, featuring high schools
singers from NYC, Boston, upstate New York, Baltimore, and
D'Walla Simmons-Burke, guest clinician
Krista McKenzie, featured soloist
March 29th, 2020 at 4pm – Concerto and Composition Competition Concert
F. Chopin: Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22
Alexei Aceto, piano
S. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
III. Allegro scherzando
Harris Andersen, piano
S. Golovko: The Russian Marimba Concerto
I. Untold Legends
II. Stories of Old
Brian Breen, marimba
Composition Competition Winner: TBA
Octavio Más-Arocas, music director and conductor
April 30th, 2020 at 8:15pm – Beethoven's 9th with Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra and Choral Union
J. Higdon: blue cathedral
L. v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
Octavio Más-Arocas, music director and conductor
Janet Galván and Sean Linfors, choral directors