All the Different Parts of Harder

Saskatoon composer Kendra Harder instantly grabbed the attention of the SSO’s Wind Quintet a few years ago when they workshopped an arrangement Harder had done for one of her classes at the University of Saskatchewan’s Music Department. Our premiere of her piece “All the Different Parts” comes as such a joy to the quintet musicians who’ve been able to workshop the piece this year with Harder.

She says:
“I began composing All the Different Parts with the intention of writing music simply for the sake of writing music – no plots, no programmes, no character developments. But as with all best laid plans, this one was thrown out the window and fell into a snow bank two meters deep. With no programme driving the music, what came out while writing was music exposing my inner-most feelings – feelings I wasn’t even yet aware of. Life threw life at me (as it does), and this music became the vehicle that helped me process it. By the time I started writing the fourth movement, I realized that this music was simply expressing all the different parts of me.”

Movements:
I. mistakes make great motifs
II. processing
III. discovery
IV. end with joy
Instrumentation: Wind Quintet
Duration: 15’07”

Premiere scheduled for May 9, 2021 by Mistral 5, Saskatoon, SK
Provincial premieres by Blythwood Winds in Ontario, and Fifth Wind in Nova Scotia TBD due to pandemic

Nielsen’s Wind Quintet

It was autumn in Copenhagen, 1921. Scandinavian composer Carl Nielsen had just put down the receiver of his telephone after having a brief conversation with his friend, the pianist Christian Christiansen. On that evening in particular, Chrisrtiansen was rehearsing for an upcoming concert to be performed by himself and the Copenhagen Wind Quintet. So it was that the background music of the rehearsal hall (in which the musicians of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet were rehearsing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante) made its way to Carl Nielsen’s ear for the first time. He was immediately struck by the incredible musical synchronicity between flautist Paul Hagemann, oboist Svend C. Felumb, clarinettist Aage Oxenvad, hornist Hans Sørensen, and bassoonist Knud Lassen. Nielsen vowed that very evening to begin writing a wind quintet with the talents of these specific players in mind.

One of Nielsen’s biographers, the British composer Robert Simpson, stresses that it was Nielson’s fondness for the great outdoors and the people he met which served as the greatest inspiration for the Wind Quintet’s inception. “Nielsen’s fondness of wind instruments is closely related to his love of nature, his fascination for living, breathing things. He was also intensely interested in human character, and in the Wind Quintet composed deliberately for five friends, each part is cunningly made to suit the individuality of each player.”

Nielsen’s programme notes provide a window into the composer’s relationship with the work itself. He writes that “The quintet for winds is one of [my] latest works, in which [I have] attempted to render the characters of the various instruments. At one moment they are all talking at once, at another they are quite alone. The work consists of three movements: a) Allegro, b) Minuet and c) Prelude – Theme with Variations. The theme for these variations is the melody for one of C.N.’s spiritual songs, which has here been made the basis of a set of variations, now merry and quirky, now elegiac and serious, ending with the theme in all its simplicity and very quietly expressed.” Critics of Nielsen’s work have pointed out that it is this delicate balance between aspects of modernism and neo-classicism which make the composer’s work on the Wind Quintet so prolific.

The first movement of Nielsen’s Wind Quintet (Allegro ben moderato) is in sonata form, beginning with the bassoon’s statement of the theme in E. The upper winds echo this in their reply before it is repeated once more by the French horn (this time in the key of A major). The theme is played in fragments until the arrival of the second theme in D minor. First played by the French Horn, the bassoon and oboe are soon to follow with an accompaniment of triplet figures by the flute and clarinet. With a restatement of the first theme, the development of this movement’s melody begins. In the final segment of the movement, the recapitulation of the first theme in E major flows into the second theme (now in B minor) with harmonizing thirds in the horn and bassoon employing a rich texture throughout.

The second movement (Menuet) takes the shape of a pastoral minuet and enjoys a certain neoclassical sensibility. The French horn is scored lightly in this section, which allows the player to rest before their involvement in the third and final movement. The first theme of the Menuet features a duet between clarinet and bassoon, while the second theme follows a similar pattern of exchange between the oboe and flute. A simple and elegant dance, the movement sees all instruments engage in a recapitulation of the first theme. After this, a trio (played by oboe, flute, and bassoon) makes use of contrapuntal textures to provide contrast to the simplicity of the first two themes.

The third movement of the Wind Quintet sees a brief Praeludium executed before the piece embarks on a set of variations. For the Praeludium, the English horn takes the place of the oboe. Music historians have posited that this change was included after Nielsen fell in love with oboist Felumb’s English horn solo during a performance of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Nielsen himself conducted this performance in Bremen, and was absolutely blown away at the raw emotion that Felumb’s English horn skills could evoke. The central theme of this third movement is taken from Nielsen’s own chorale tune “Min Jesus, lad min Hjerte faa en saaden Smag paa dig” (My Jesus, make my heart to love thee). The eleven variations which stem from this theme are very complex, not only in the skill required to execute them but also in their harmonic structure. The theme from Nielsen’s chorale is restated at the end of the Wind Quintet and builds to a triumphant climax.

Nielsen’s Wind Quintet was completed in 1922 at his residence in Gothenburg, Sweden. First performed on April 30th at a private gathering at the home of Herman and Lisa Mannheimer, the piece became an immediate sensation. Each of the five musicians who had performed in the Copenhagen Wind Quintet (and who had directly inspired the work’s composition) debuted Nielsen’s Wind Quintet on this occasion. They reconvened for an official concert debut on October 9th of that same year at the Odd Fellows Mansion in Copenhagen, a relatively intimate venue which showcased superbly the unique qualities of each instrumental voice.

Nielsen would pass away only nine years later, but his Wind Quintet would live on to inspire countless woodwind musicians in the decades following. The Wind Quintet itself is regarded as a staple of modern woodwind repertoire, and is performed more often in Nielsen’s native Scandinavia than any other piece he composed during his lifetime. Your Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra is delighted to bring this classic to the stage at our Mother’s Day Concert!

Musical Herstory 2.0

For centuries, the writers of musical textbooks (and the programmers of musical institutions) excluded women who composed.

Francesca Caccini (1587-1645)

Motherhood. Quarantine. Saving one’s self from the guillotine with their piano skills. Composers of today have a surprising amount in common with composers of yesteryear!
In this second instalment of Musical Herstory, we will continue looking at the amazing lives and music of female composers from the past and the present. We’ll look at works created across the years in those typically “male dominated” genres, the dual roles of mother and composer, and music from composers whom we know very little about.

The SSO is again proud to present Saskatoon composer Kendra Harder in this six week course exploring the herstory of music that you need to know!

Classes take place Thursdays at 7:00pm (Saskatchewan time) – each class is 60 minutes.

The first class takes place on May 13th, and will be available on video to those who aren’t able to attend the class live on Zoom.

Click here to Register!


How does it work?

Before the first class, you’ll receive an email that gives you access to the 6 weeks of scheduled Zoom classes.

If you can’t participate in the live Zoom class, you’ll have access to the video of the class on our YouTube channel.

Week One – Composer & Mother

Our society often expects that women become mothers, but not composers. What is it like for those who are both? 
What are the challenges faced by women in professional spheres attempting to balance raising children and creating 
a career?

Composers in focus: 
 - Allison Loggins-Hull – this week is inspired by her project “Diametrically Composed.”
 - Elizabeth Maconchy (1907 – 1994)

Week Two – Symphony Week

We enter the "male domain" of the symphony and look at what women have done in this sphere.

Composers in focus:
 - Amy Beach (1867 - 1944)
 - Alice Ping Yee Ho

Week Three – Almost Footnotes

There are so many composers (both male and female) where there is little biographical information about them, 
and in some cases absolutely none is to be found. As a result, these composers and their music are overlooked 
putting them at risk of simply being a footnote in textbooks. This week we'll spend time listening to music by
 composers whom we know little about.

Composers in focus: 
 - Cesarina Ricci (c. 1573 - ?)
 - Hélène de Montgeroult (1764 – 1836)
 - Eva Dell’Acqua (1856 – 1930)
 - Cecilia Arizti (1856 – 1930)
 - Lyse Gingras (b. 1949)

Week Four – Guitar Week

Solo repertoire for the guitar is a very heavy male-dominated field; but men are not the only ones to have picked up 
that beautiful six-stringed instrument to create music. This week will look at two fantastic guitar virtuosi whose 
music is finally coming back into the public consciousness.

Composers in focus: 
 - Ida Presti (1924-1967)
 - Catharina Pratten (1824-1895)

Week Five – Beautiful Blends

These two composers make amazing blends of music with their traditional music and the Western classical music. 

Composers in focus: 
 - Tanya Tagaq
 - Reena Esmail

Week Six – Opera Week

This genre of large-scale works has been hailed as the grand rite of passage for any serious composer, and therefore, 
was denied to women. This week will look at one woman who wrote some of the first operas, and is considered the
first woman to have composed an opera. Plus, we will look at what women are writing today!

Composers in focus: 
 - Francesca Caccini (1587 – 1645)
 - Nkeiru Okoye