Women’s History Music Moment: Toby Saks
The chamber music impresaria Toby Saks became a legend in the music life of the Pacific Northwest. She began her career in New York: she earned awards as a teenage cellist; she played in the New York Philharmonic in her 20s. She moved out west to join the faculty of the University of Washington School of Music, and soon gathered a group of classical music supporters to launch the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.
For over 30 years, Saks inspired and coached, performed with and nurtured outstanding performers from across the world, bringing them to Seattle for its glorious long summer days of sunshine and joyous audiences, seated outside or tucked into casual chairs. The summer festival would grow into a midwinter festival, the concerts on the lawn would move to Benaroya Hall, but Saks’s joyous spirit infused every concert. Her own home would be the festival’s clubhouse: musicians would rehearse, relax, and enjoy beautiful food together as “Mama Tobs” made sure they had what they needed.
Always on the lookout for promising chamber music talent, she took pride in building the next generation of masters of the art. Saks was especially thrilled to bring on board the performer who would become her successor as artistic director in Seattle, the Canadian violinist James Ehnes.
Her legacy includes the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, created by the violist Aloysia Friedmann, one of the thousands of students Saks mentored. Friedmann, too, created a festival with great food, stellar performers, and an all-around good time.
Saks’s secret to a successful concert? She would answer like a good chef: “You know, creamy, crunchy…,” something easy, something surprising, something sweet at the end. Toby Saks: a legendary Northwest music history-maker.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was approached by The editor of a Russian music magazine known as the Nouvellist with a commission – write one piece a month for a year and give our listeners something to look forward to. Continue Reading Spring Music Moment: Tchaikovsky’s ‘April’
Vivaldi’s Spring – one of the most recognizable, best loved works in the world and one of the best ways to celebrate the season.
Vivaldi penned his famous quartet of concertos, The Four Seasons or Le quattro stagioni, between the late 1710’s and early 1720s. Each concerto includes an accompanying sonnet of unknown origin (a classic case of “which came first – the sonnets of the concertos?”). The first lines of Spring perfectly encapsulate what’s ahead, musically speaking: “Springtime is upon us. The birds celebrate her return with festive song, and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.” The first of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos not only invites us to imagine birds singing in a crisp, clear morning, but depicts a rolling spring thunderstorm and a festive dance in the country. Continue Reading Spring Music Moment: Vivaldi
Unlike his contemporaries, Britten did not devote much of his time to writing symphonies. It’s no wonder that when he *did* sit down to write his Spring Symphony, it resulted in a grand journey in 4 parts and 12 movements, harnessing the power of mixed chorus, boys’ choir, soprano, alto and tenor soloists and a massive orchestra including harp, tambourine and cow horn. Britten’s Spring Symphony takes us through the changing of the seasons and the power of that transition – both as a time of the year and a stage of life. Continue Reading Spring Music Moment: Britten’s Spring Symphony