Antonín Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, one of the great concertos of the Romantic era, is considered the pinnacle of cello concertos.
“I was thrilled when Lou Kosma called and proposed the idea of programming the Dvorák Cello Concerto this season,” explains Emily Taubl. “This concerto is an iconic work in the cello repertoire and one that I’ve never had the privilege of performing with an orchestra, so this has been a very exciting opportunity.”
The Burlington cellist will be the soloist in the Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, when the Vermont Philharmonic presents its winter concerts: at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester; at 2 p.m. Feb. 17, at the Barre Opera House; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro.
Kosma, longtime music director, will also conduct the state’s oldest community orchestra in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488 (first movement) with Borowicz Memorial Student Scholarship winner Henry Wu, Rufus Reid’s “Lake Tyrrell in Innisfree” and Erik Nielsen’s Fanfare in B-flat.
The Brookfield, Vermont composer’s Fanfare, written for and premiered by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in 2014, will open the program.
“It’s a bright piece,” Kosma said recently by phone. “Not just for brass, it’s for full orchestra and it lasts only about two minutes.”
Each year, the Vermont Philharmonic holds a competition for Vermont high school musicians. The winner of the Borowicz scholarship, named for the orchestra’s founder, is invited to perform a concerto with the orchestra.
Wu, this year’s winner, is a junior at Essex High School and a student of Shelburne pianist Paul Orgel. The first Vermonter to receive the Presidential Award for the Arts, Wu has won several competitions and has been featured in Burlington’s Cathedral Arts Young Arts Showcase and the Next Generation concerts at Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts.
“Henry is also a very accomplished cellist,” Kosma said. “And he plays piano extremely well. He’s very adept at all the things necessary to play this (Mozart) concerto. He won the competition because he just outright showed a very high level of technique, musicianship and presence. He was pretty rock solid.”
And that was among some excellent young musicians.
“The level has been going up,” Kosma said. “The level of our auditionees was a lot higher this year than in the past.”
Reid’s 2017 “Lake Tyrrell in Innisfree” is a sound portrait of New York’s Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, N.Y. (Reid will be attending the Barre concert.)
“Rufus is an internationally known jazz bass player, educator, and in recent years composer of works that are not necessarily jazz-related,” Kosma said. “It’s kind of an aural picture of what’s going on around the lake.”
Kosma calls the Dvorák a symphony for cello and orchestra.
“I think the concerto is just amazing,” he said. “It’s a fabulous piece.”
Taubl is on the music faculty of the University of Vermont and studied at Julliard, Yale, and the New England Conservatory. She was introduced to Kosma by Letitia Quante, the Philharmonic’s concertmaster, when the two played the first movement of Brahms’ Double Concerto for him.
“Emily has a real good sound for the Dvorák,” Kosma said. “She’s playing very well.”
“The concerto is a hefty three-movement work that demands a lot from the soloist, all while taking the listener on a journey from massive orchestral writing to intimate solo moments,” Taubl said. “There’s something so human about this piece — the melodies feel personal and sometimes painful.
“As challenging as the technical work is for the soloist, it’s extremely well written for the instrument and often I feel as though this is an opera written as a concerto,” Taubl said. “Hopefully the audience will walk away feeling as attached to these melodies as I do! I’m really looking forward to collaborating with fellow Vermonters on this amazing work.”