Grammy-winning jazz-classical violinist Mads Tolling joins the Choral Artists for its inaugural SFCA+1 concert set. The program features the beautiful jazz standard Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans, the outrageous You Drive Me Crazy for choir and solo violin by local composer Herbert Bielawa, a lovely folksong from Tolling’s native Denmark, a stunning world premiere written especially for the SFCA+1 forces by Michigan-based composer Frederic Himebaugh—Colman Returning—for solo violin, solo voice, and choir, plus 4 more world premieres.
Waltz for Debby, by the great jazz pianist Bill Evans, imagines the transition from the simplicity of childhood to adulthood. SFCA performs the famous tune in an arrangement by the Swedish a cappella jazz quintet, the Real Group, appended to Mads Tolling’s own improvisation on the violin.
I Skovens Dybe Stille Ro (In the Peaceful Forest) is a Danish folksong, made even more famous in Denmark by world-renowned jazz bass player Niels Henning Orsted-Pedersen (simply called NHOP in the jazz world). Tolling says: “Everyone in Denmark knows this song. I used to sing it as a child. NHOP turned this song, as well as other famous Danish songs and children’s songs, into jazz pieces by re-harmonizing them. He did it really tastefully, which made them so successful. To this day, people love to play them.” The song, dedicated to NHOP, is also featured on Mads Tolling’s CD “The Playmaker.”
Bielawa‘s You Drive Me Crazy is an fun and flashy piece for choir and solo violin, set to a poem by Jeannie Pool that wittily details the everyday frustrations familiar to many couples. The exasperation grows through a driving 16th-note violin line and ends with a surprise. Bielawa—who was SFCA’s second Composer-in-Residence in 2000—wrote this piece in 1988 for conductor Donald Aird and his violinist son Brooke Aird.
Himebaugh’s world-premiere Colman Returning—scored for this season’s SFCA+1 forces—sets a 9th-century Latin poem, a letter by an old man writing to a young one who is returning to his native land.
The program’s 4 more SFCA-commissioned world premieres are an arrangement of George Gershwin‘s Just Another Rhumba by local composer Tina Harrington (who is also SFCA’s Assistant Conductor), works by Daniel Afonso and Wayne Eastwood—SFCA’s Composers-in and Not-in-Residence—and by Joseph Taff, winner of SFCA’s 2015 New Voices Project competition for composers under age 30.