It often happens that in the RSCC full time teacher education program at RSCC there are students who have special gifts and talents in some particular art form. This year one of those specially-talented artists is Carlisle Anderson-Frank. Carlisle has been asked to share his musical gifts by performing in a concert this coming Saturday Dec. 2nd at the Advent Fair at the Christian Community as part of a program titled “Baroque to Folk”. Here’s the artist biography he wrote for the concert poster:
“Carlisle Anderson-Frank began his studies in music at the age of three. He has an ARCT in piano from the Royal Conservatory or Music and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he also studied voice and composition. He was the winner of the 2014 Northwest International Piano Ensemble Competition in Vancouver, BC. The piano is his wife, and the cello is his mistress, but the recorder is his master.”
Carlisle will be sharing the program with another young local musician, Allison Coldwell, who will be bringing up more of the folk end of the concert with Celtic fiddle music. Interestingly, both Allison and Carlisle are alumni of the Toronto Waldorf School.
Here is the program of pieces which Carlisle will perform this Saturday, starting at 2:30 pm:
Fantasia no.3 in D minor Georg Philip Telemann
From Études -Tableaux op.39 Sergei Rachmaninov
No. 3 F# minor
No. 4 B minor
From 2 Tales op.20 Nikolai Medtner
From 6 Tales op. 51
Suite III in C major BWV 1009 J.S. Bach
From 7 Charakterstücke Felix Mendelssohn
Kraftig und Feurig
In the second half-hour of the program, Allison, and her piano accompanist Eva, will perform a medley of Celtic fiddle music
Here’s the complete poster for the concert:
Carlisle has also thoughtfully provided the following program notes in case anyone is not familiar with these composers:
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) stands alone in the pantheon of musical giants throughout history. In fact, he is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific composer of all time. Almost entirely self-taught, Telemann dropped out of law school against his family’s wishes in order to pursue a musical career. He made the right choice, for although difficulties in his personal life abounded, his career was astonishing. He settled in Hamburg in 1721, where he was appointed music director of the city’s five largest churches! No instrument evaded his mastery, and he remained at the forefront of musical culture throughout his long and prosperous life. Telemann incorporated French, German, Italian, and Polish national styles into his music. In his lifetime, he was in fact more widely regarded than his closest friend, J.S. Bach. Telemann was the namesake and godfather of Bach’s second eldest (and most musical) son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) seldom needs an introduction, since he quickly became a household name in the West after leaving Russia following the outbreak of revolution in 1917. The composer was born into an aristocratic family at the height of the Russian empire. As a student, he frequently skipped classes, altered his report cards, and generally failed academic studies. However, he showed great brilliance in all things musical. By the time he left Russia, he was already a huge star. Like a true celebrity, he eventually settled in Beverly Hills, but struggled to master the English language and acclimate himself to western culture. He missed Russia and its people, and spent most of his energy throughout his later years concertizing. His skill as a pianist was renowned throughout his life. The op.39 Études-Tableaux, was completed in 1917 as he returned to his childhood summer home. The estate, known as Ivanovka, was seized by communist authorities, and in virtual ruin. The haunting melodicism, evocative harmonies, and brilliant pianistic textures aptly convey the feelings he had for the Russia he left behind forever on December 22, 1917.
Nikolai Karlovich Medtner (1880-1951) never achieved the stardom and status of his close friend and champion, Rachmaninov. “No one tells such tales as Kolya!” Rachmaninov exclaimed delightedly after Medtner played his op. 51 set to a private audience. And in 1921, Rachmaninov wrote to his friend “I repeat what I said to you back in Russia: you are, in my opinion, the greatest composer of our time.”
But Medtner eschewed a performance career, despite his titanic abilities on the instrument. He remained in Russia until well after the revolution. Rachmaninov arranged a concert tour of North America for Medtner in 1924. His concerts were frequently all-Medtner programs, though he did love to play a few other composers, in particular Beethoven, whom he considered to be his greatest teacher in the spiritual realm. Medtner lived most of his adult life in London. His music, written almost exclusively for the piano, is steeped in Russian folklore. Chief among his vast output are his 38 Skazki, translated as “Tales”. They contain some of the most poignant storytelling ever to be channeled through the piano, and Medtner’s star is forever rising.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Bach is widely considered to be the greatest of all composers; remarkably little is known about his personal life. He was certainly no stranger to tragedy, having lost both parents in childhood, his first wife, and 12 of his 20 children before the age of three. Frequent conflict with employers and other authority figures regularly marred his career. He began to compose his famous set of 48 Preludes and Fugues known as The Well-Tempered Klavier, from the confines of a prison cell. The six Suites for solo cello were largely forgotten until the 20th century, when they were brought to prominence by the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn was the grandson of a prominent Jewish-German philosopher. Mendelssohn & Co was the dominant force in European banking from 1795 until 1939. Felix’s mother, Lea Salomen, came from another culturally distinguished Jewish family. Felix was born in Hamburg, at that time an independent city state. Due to growing anti-Semitism and fear of French reprisal for the Mendelssohn bank’s role in breaking Napoleon’s Continental System blockade, the family fled to Berlin in disguise. Felix, uncircumcised, was raised without any religion until the age of seven. In 1816, Felix was baptized by the Reformed Church, and the family adopted the Christian surname Bartholdy.
The second of four children, Felix was given a thorough musical education. His older sister Fanny displayed prodigious musical talent from an early age, and famously played 24 Preludes and Fugues of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier by memory at the age of 14 for her father’s birthday. An incredible composer in her own right, she began teaching Felix counterpoint while he was still a small child.
Felix, like his sister, studied Bach’s music with unstoppable energy. J.S. Bach’s music had fallen out of favour in the generations since his passing. His style was considered dry, overly-intellectual, academic, and even boring. Felix initiated what would one day be called the 19th century Bach revival, by conducting a public performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829, just over a century after it was composed. With his father’s limitless financial backing, only the finest musicians were hired, and the performance was a resounding success. Felix, aged 20, became an international celebrity, and began touring with his own compositions.
Goethe himself was a close friend of Mendelssohn. He once compared the young Felix, to Mozart, whose talent as a child prodigy he had also witnessed in person fifty-some years prior. Speaking to Felix’s teacher, Goethe said “what your pupil already accomplishes, bears the same relation to Mozart of that time that the cultivated talk of a grown-up person bears to the prattle of a child”.
The short fugue on today’s program was written by a teenaged Mendelssohn, undoubtedly inspired by Bach. Its contrapuntal brilliance barely contains the unfettered joy that the young genius found in Bach’s music.
Allison’s Part of the Program
This was finalized too late to be included in the printed program, but here are the elements in her “medley of Celtic tunes”:
Benny and Bea’s Waltz
Swallowtail Jig/ Irish Washerwoman/ Kesh Jig
Canadian Sunshine/ Kerry Polka
Skye Boat Song
Original piece by Eva