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Stravinsky, The Violin Years: 1930-1935

Violin, Piano

Igor Stravinsky once said, "I had taken no pleasure in the blend of strings struck in the piano with strings set in vibrations by the bow." Yet his introduction to the violinist Samuel Dushkin in 1930 seemed to have given him pause, resulting in a relatively brief but highly prolific and fertile period for the composer. Their collaboration produced a wealth of new compositions as well as transcriptions for violin and piano. The works on this program span two of his major compositional styles: his so-called "Russian" and neo-Classical. Gil Morgenstern explores how these styles overlap and depart from one another. Music to be performed include portions of the Violin Concerto using Stravinsky’s own transcription for violin and piano, Firebird Suite, Duo Concertante, and Suite Italienne.

From My Homeland

Violin, Piano

Works for violin and piano by Manuel de Falla, Ernst Bloch, Bedřich Smetana, George Gershwin and Aaron Copland.

Coupled Perceptions

an evening of music and dance

Violin, Piano, Dancers

This unique program explores the relationships between music and dance, and investigates how adding another artistic discipline to music alters our experience as audience members. The program includes familiar works of music but with original dance specially created for this program. Music to be performed includes Claude Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano, George Gershwin's Summertime, A Woman is a Sometime Thing and It Ain't Necessarily So from Porgy and Bess (arr. Jascha Heifetz), and selections from J.S. Bach's Partita in E Major for Solo Violin.

Identities and Transformations

Violin, Piano, Percussion, Actors

Seeking a broader understanding of what forms and transforms our personal and collective identities, this program raises such questions as: What roles do history, culture, religion, the environment, gender and politics play in shaping or reshaping them? How does one negotiate personal identity in an age of globalization and its concurrent loss of privacy? Can we choose to transform ourselves or does our cultural memory remain at the core of who we are? And what are we to do when new values and cultural practices are imposed on us?


The program explores these questions by creating both a musical and literary narrative, with texts ranging from from Genesis to Walt Whitman, the Koran to Sir Edmund Hillary, and from Mao to Mayan fables. Music will include Sergei Prokofiev’s viscerally powerful Violin Sonata in f minor, the Peruvian rhythms of Gabriela Lena Frank, Enzo Rao’s Sicilian folk music and John Cage’s haunting Nocturne.


Nature's Bounty

Two Violins, Viola, Cello, Percussion, Narrator

Music and text inspired by composers’ personal encounters with both natural and man-made landscapes; immortalizing them through works of unparalleled beauty and drama. This artistic journey, from flowing crystalline streams in China to the haunting terrain of the Middle East to the wide-open prairies of the American Great Plains, includes music by Antonin Dvořák, Zhou Long, and Riyad El-Soumbati, along with text from the works of Mary Shelley, Naguib Mahfouz, and Gaetano Cipolla, narrated by an actor.

Impressions of Ravel

Violin, Cello, Piano

Inspired by its shimmering colors and dancing rhythms, this program deconstructs Ravel’s magnificent Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. By programming works that include motifs found in each of the Trio’s movements, the audience will hear its component parts through the music of other composers. A trio by Joaquín Turina highlights the Basque dance rhythms Ravel used so brilliantly; “impressionistic” colors are found in Toru Takemitsu’s Distance de Fée, and the austerity and spirituality of Mozart’s Adagio by Arvo Pärt will all culminate in a performance of the Trio itself, inviting the audience to reflect anew on a familiar work.

Dances, Dialogues, and Dualism

Violin, Piano

This program presents a musical dialogue between great works of the past and their present day counterparts. From Bach to Barkauskas, Beethoven to Berio, and Ravel to Pärt, this program will reveal the bridges that exist between art and artists of yesterday and today. From the formal to the playful, and the sacred to the profane, join Morgenstern in an intimate dialogue between violin and piano, performers and audience. 

Changing Keys

an evening of music, words and imagery

Violin, Piano, Narrator

Fifteen years ago, the Canadian artist Elma Johnston McKay began to craft a set of keys in her native New Brunswick, Canada. Inspired by paintings and stories, religious and secular, she recognized that inspiration only sends the artist, the writer, the composer in search of a key. That it is the art of interpretation that unlocks understanding, that transforms the single into the universal, the season of despair into the season of hope. Changing Keys weaves a musical program, interacting with McKayʼs Keys, of Beethoven, Schumann, Harbison, Cage and Gershwin, and with readings of texts (selected by writer Jonathan Levi) ranging from the parables of Kafka to the diaries of Casanova to the dinner-table anecdotes of Isaiah Berlin. Music, words, and imagery combine to reflect on the ancient symbolism of keys as agents of transition. 

The Stuff Dreams are Made On

an evening of music and words

Violin, Piano, Narrator

The Stuff Dreams Are Made On entrances with music of fantasy, hallucination and reverie and includes music by Georges Enesco, Jean Sibelius, George Crumb, John Cage and Franz Schubert, and texts by Sylvia Plath. Using music, prose and poetry, the program will invite the audience on a nocturnal journey from dusk through dawn, creating a narrative of memory, nightmare and fantasy.

A Pilgrim's Progress

an evening of music and words

Violin, Piano, Narrator

How do we interpret our place in the universe, and how is our interpretation informed by religion and culture? A Pilgrim’s Progress explores these questions through the music of Heinrich Ignaz (Biber's Mystery Sonatas), Francis Poulenc (Sonata for Violin and Piano), and Bruce Saylor's (Dante Suite for Solo Violin), and the prose and poetry of Carl Sagan, Federico García Lorca, and Dante Alighieri.

The Voice of the Violin, Part One

an evening of music and words

Violin, Piano, Narrator (optional)

The Voice of the Violin presents an evening of music showcasing the singularly expressive range of the violin. The music of Bach, Ysaÿe, Carter, Bright Sheng, Gershwin, Kreisler and Prokofiev combine to highlight the instrument’s unique and versatile voice. Optional text by Anna Akhmatova.

The Voice of the Violin, Part Two

Violin, Piano

The expressive range of the violin is again showcased through the contrasting works of Beethoven (Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major) and Webern (Four Pieces for Violin and Piano), Bach (selections from Partita in E Major for Solo Violin) and Ysaÿe (Obsession from Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin), and Bartók (Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs) and Ravel (Tzigane). 

Rendez-vous in Paris

Violin, Piano, Soprano

Rendez-vous in Paris takes the audience inside the celebrated Parisian salon of famed salonière Winnaretta Singer, heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune. Music to be performed includes works commissioned by her, dedicated to her, or premiered at her salon by Ravel, Fauré, Stravinsky, Debussy, and de Falla.


Restless Journeys

Violin, Piano

This program explores the influence of location and dislocation on composers and their works. Whether spiritual or political, voluntary or forced, the musical diaspora has left an indelible mark on the works of many composers. The program will contrast a variety of musical styles, set in historical context through commentary from the stage. The concert includes music by Ernest Chausson, Erwin Schulhoff, Bedrich Smetana, Frédéric Chopin and Leoš Janáček.

The World According to Bach: A Musical Mandala

Violin, Piano

Mandala, the Sanskrit word for circle, is used in many traditions as an artistic aid for meditation to advance practitioners towards a state of spiritual enlightenment. The works of J. S. Bach can equally be said to advance practitioners, in this case composers, performers and audiences, towards a state of musical enlightenment. This program explores Bach’s influence on the music of every successive era through the lens of his monumental Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Musical selections will circle through works by Brahms, Ysaÿe, Bloch, Stravinsky, Kurtag, Bartok, Crumb and Villa-Lobos.

The Magic of Mendelssohn

Violin, Piano, Cello

Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D Minor is one of the most popular works for this instrumentation. Emerging from his great admiration of the trios of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, Mendelssohn managed with this brilliant composition to bridge the ever-growing divide between the Classical and Romantic styles. Performances of other works by Mendelssohn, as well as those by different composers, will deconstruct and reconstruct this beloved trio, demonstrating how it successfully incorporates the new Romantic spirit within a Classical structural framework. 

Beauty Born of Terror

Violin, Piano, Narrator, Project Imagery (video presentation will be supplied)

One of the ironic facts of creative life is that inspiration often emerges from fear, terror and pain. Through music, literature and imagery, Beauty Born of Terror explores the endurance of hope and spirituality amid the cataclysmic horrors of the twentieth century. This program creates a trio of three distinct voices - music, text and imagery. Musical works by Arvo Pärt, Erwin Schulhoff, Chen Yi, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen; texts by Rainer Maria Rilke, Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, and a newly commissioned work by the Italian writer Marina Carbone, whose poetry and prose examines beauty, terror and pain through the lens of a writer who comes to realize that her survival is dependent on her art: her poetry.

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