Stefan Jackiw plays Bruch with the Boulder Phil

Violinist returns for third round in Boulder, second with the Phil

By Peter Alexander March 23 at 6:40 p.m.

Stefan Jackiw (STE-fahn ja-KEEV) last performed in Boulder pre-Covid, when he was part of a Mozart mini-festival at the Colorado Music Festival in the summer of 2019.

Conductor Michael Butterman with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

Leaping a century and across several borders, he returns to Boulder Saturday to play the Scottish Fantasy composed in 1880 by Max Bruch with the Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman. This will be his second appearance with Butterman and the Phil, after a 2018 performance of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto.

Max Bruch

Maintaining the British flavor, Saturday’s program also includes The Banks of Green Willow by English composer George Butterworth. And in observance of the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s birth, the program concludes with that composer’s Symphonic Dances, his last completed composition, written around 1940.

In the 19th century, Scotland and the Romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott captured the imagination of composers across Europe. Mendelssohn visited Scotland in 1829 and wrote his Hebrides Overture and his “Scottish” Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in A minor). Operas based on Scott’s novels are legion, including Rossini’s La Donna del Lago (The Lady of the Lake) and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and many others less well known.

Among the composers enchanted by Scott’s stories was the German Max Bruch, who conducted the Liverpool Philharmonic for three years (1880-83). Bruch paid homage to the wild beauty and romance of Scotland by writing his Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra. Bruch studied and incorporated Scottish folk melodies into his score, which soon became just about his most popular piece.

Based on two folk songs that he collected in 1907, Butterworth’s Banks of Green Willow has been popular as a musical representation of the English countryside. The songs tell a sad, and even shocking, tale about an English country girl who runs away to sea to cover up an illegitimate pregnancy, but the music nevertheless remains mostly cheerful. Known for only a handful of works, Butterworth was tragically killed in World War I at the age of 31.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was born just about 150 years ago, on April 1, 1873 (Gregorian calendar; March 20 O.S.). In honor of the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Boulder Phil will perform his Symphonic Dances. 

Rachmaninoff had long wanted to write music for a ballet when he composed the Dances. He had shown the score to the great Russian choreographer Michel Fokine, who unfortunately died before he could realize them as a ballet. Rachmaninoff himself died in 1943, not long after the 1941 premiere of the score by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Today the score is known primarily as concert music, although it has been set by Peter Martins on the New York City Ballet (1994), and by other choreographers.

Stefan Jackiw

Jackiw himself is nearly as multicultural as the program. The grandson of one of Korea’s greatest poets, Pi Chun-Deuk, he is of both Korean and Ukrainian descent. A native of Boston, he attended Harvard and the New England Conservatory. In addition to his international touring as a solo violinist, he has played with Ensemble Ditto, a popular Korean chamber music group that also features CU faculty member Richard O’Neill. 

# # # # #

“Jackiw Plays Bruch”
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Butterman, conductor
With Stefan Jackiw, violin

George Butterworth: The Banks of Green Willow
Max Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

7 p.m. Saturday, March 25
Macky Auditorium


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