Tryon Concert Association Presents

Zlatomir Fung, Cello

Janice Carissa, Piano

Thursday, January 31, 2019

8:00 p.m.

Dedicated to the memory of Charles Dunn




Selections from 11 Capricci for Solo Cello            Joseph Dall’Abaco  (1710-1805)

No. 1

No. 2

No. 6



Baal Shem B. 47                                                            Ernest Bloch   (1880-1959)



Simchas Torah

Sequenza XIV for Cello                                                Luciano Berio  (1925-2003)



            (Please note: The following two pieces are intended to be played without interruption.)

 Prelude                                                                    Katherine Balch  (1991- )

Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38                                     Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Zlatomir Fung appears by arrangement with Young Concert Artists, Inc., New York City, NY.

A footnote on applause: The spirit and beauty of the music will be enhanced for both the performer and the audience by saving your applause until the completion of the last movement of each composition.


Note on the Artist

Of Bulgarian-Chinese heritage, cellist Zlatomir Fung was born in Oregon. He moved from there to Boston in his early years so that he could attend the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. He currently studies at The Juilliard School where he is a Kovner fellow.

Mr. Fung has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras including the Boston Pops, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the New England Philharmonic. In addition, he has been the winner of numerous international competitions including the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the 2018 Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition. As well, he won the competition’s sole performance engagement prize for a concert with Poland’s Pozan Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a regular member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players and has been featured on NPR’s radio show From the Top six times, as well as on Performance Today.

He was recognized as a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.  

Outside of music Mr. Fung is interested in chess, poker, and cinema. He has competed in chess tournaments and is in the process of completing his first short film. As he says, he enjoys the sheer act of making music and also participating in musical outreach in schools and retirement homes.

Pianist Janice Carissa is a native of Indonesia who entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2013. She studies with Gary Graffman and Robert McDonald. At Curtis she received a merit-based full tuition scholarship. Ms. Carissa is the Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Fellow.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Ms. Carissa is a Young Scholar of Lang Lang’s International Music Foundation and runner-up of the 2014 American Academy of Conduction at Aspen Music Festival and School. She has been featured on television and radio stations including NPR’s From the Top. Together with her brother Ryan Ferguson, Ms. Carissa performed in a duo recital in the “Fantastic Sound of Two Pianos” held at the Sydney Opera House in 2011.

 Notes on the Program

 Selections from 11 Capricci for Solo Cello

Joseph Dall’Abaco (1710-1805)

Joseph Marie Clement Ferdinand Dall’Abaco was born in Brussels, at that time the capital of the Spanish Netherlands. His Italian-born father, Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco, was a highly regarded composer of his day as well as a distinguished cellist. Son Joseph first studied cello with his father and later was sent to Venice to further his musical education.

Joseph Abaco was considered one of the greatest cellists of his time. At age 19 he was appointed cellist in the court orchestra of Prince Clemens August of Bavaria in Bonn, and ten years later he became the group’s Kapellmeister. His compositions were few — about 40 sonatas as well as the set of 11 caprices. The original manuscript of these caprices has been lost; the music survives through “bad copies” that were made in the nineteenth century. The date of their origin is uncertain. They may have been written as a tribute to honor the memory of his father.

These technically difficult works reflect the Baroque era. As described by American cellist Elinor Frey, “I was continually captivated by Dall’Abaco’s ability, like Bach’s, to generate rhythmic interest through changes of register, the intriguing perception of multiple voices, and a great and often noble, intimate, and tragic elegance.” They reflect J.S. Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello.

These expressive works vary in style, ranging from bold to melancholy, and often reflect dance rhythms. The second and sixth episodes borrow from Baroque dance movements, the allemande and the courante.


Baal Shem, B. 47

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)

Born in Switzerland, Ernest Bloch studied violin in his native city of Geneva starting at age nine. He then studied in Frankfurt and Paris. In 1916 Bloch came to America where he became a US citizen in 1924. He taught composition at the Mannes School of Music and later was appointed the first musical director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music. His post as director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music followed this.

Bloch’s father had once considered becoming a rabbi. Ernest thus had a strong religious upbringing. Many of his compositions were inspired by his Jewish heritage. Baal Shem, Three Pictures from Hassidic Life was composed in 1923, the year before he obtained American citizenship. As Bloch describes this work, “What interests me is the Jewish soul, the enigmatic, ardent, turbulent soul that I feel vibrating throughout the Bible.  …  It is all this that I endeavor to hear in myself and to transcribe into my music; the venerable emotion of the race that slumbers way down in our souls.”

Baal Shem is made up of three parts: I “Vidui” (Contrition), II “Nigun” (Improvisation), and III “Simchas Torah” (Rejoicing). The opening “Vidui” represents the fervor of a sinner returning to God. “Nigun,” a dramatic forceful section in the style of religious chanting, follows this short, pensive opening. The highly charged, ornate melodic line of this middle portion rises to a spiritual intensity before dying away to a gentle close. The final section, “Simchas Torah,” was inspired by the moment when Moses handed down the torch to the children of Israel.

The trilogy was originally written for violin and piano. However, Bloch also made editions for orchestral accompaniment. As well, the work is performed by cellists, as we will hear tonight.


Sequenza XIV for Cello

Luciano Berio (1925-2003)

Italian composer Luciano Berio is noted for his experimental music in the mid-twentieth century. A pioneer in electronic music, he is described as one of the great icons of New Music.

His father and grandfather taught him piano as a young boy.  However, at age 19, he suffered a significant injury to his right hand while in military training during WWII. This permanently ruined his piano career. At this point he turned his focus on composition.

After receiving his diploma in composition from the Milan Conservatory Berio came to the US and made many contacts with the American musical world. His work then shifted between Italy, Paris, and America. In 1963 he moved to the USA where he taught at Berkshire Music Center, Juilliard, and Harvard.

Berio left an extended and varied output (five major stage-works, several shorter dramatic pieces, many choral and orchestral works, and a large body of instrumental and vocal pieces). Perhaps today his music is best understood in the Sequenza series, which he created over the 34 years of his productive career. Between 1958 and 2002 Berio completed his 14 solo Sequenzas,  a series of virtuosic compositions for solo instrument; these include flute, harp, woman’s voice, piano, trombone, viola, oboe, saxophone, violin, clarinet, trumpet, guitar, bassoon, accordion, and cello. Each was written for a specific musician.

Sequenza XIV was written in 2002 for cellist Rohan de Saram. This work features percussive effects on the wood of the cello that blend with pizzicato chords from the strings. This combination then alternates with the melodic bowed music from the strings. The percussive sounds derive from Rohan de Saram’s Sri Lankan origins.


Katherine Balch (1991 – )

Katherine Balch is an alumna of the Tufts University/New England Conservatory with a double degree in history and political science and music composition. Currently, she is pursuing her Doctorate at Columbia University and serves as composer-in-residence for the California Symphony. She was chosen to serve as the 2017-2019 Young Concert Artists Composer-in-residence, where she holds the William B. Butz Composer Chair. Balch sent us this description of her work:

“Prelude is a duo for cello and piano that is meant to precede the Brahms e minor cello sonata without pause. I wrote this piece with Zlatomir and Irfan’s virtuosity, adventurousness, and deeply musical personalities specifically in mind.  I first met Zlatomir and [Tengku] Irfan at the Aspen Music Festival in 2015, where they played one of my pieces as members of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Their attention to detail, friendliness, and ‘game for anything’ attitude, alongside their incredible performances throughout the summer, made a strong impression on me, and I was so excited to ask Zlatomir if I could write for him and Irfan again when he won the Young Concert Artists auditions last year. In Prelude, the cello and piano zip through angular and rhythmically off-kilter ascensions before arriving at a slow, whispered chorale that leads the players into the somber, understated, resonant opening of Brahms’ e minor sonata.”

  Sonata in E minor, Op. 38

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Born in the slums of Hamburg to a poor German family, Johannes Brahms showed significant musical talent at a young age. His father, an amateur musician himself, gave his son his first music lessons. He then found him a good piano teacher and Brahms showed rapid development. The young man was able to help the family income by performing in taverns and brothels and by selling some of his own early compositions and piano transcriptions.

In 1853 on a trip across the country with a musical friend, twenty-year-old Brahms met Robert and Clara Schumann. When Brahms played some of his recent compositions for the couple, Schumann was overwhelmed, calling the young musician “a young eagle” …. and “a genius.”

The Sonata in E Minor, Op 38 was one of Brahms’ earliest published compositions for solo instrument and piano. It was published in 1866 and dedicated to Josef Gansbacher, a singing professor and amateur cellist. The first two movements were written in 1862; the final movement was completed in 1865. It was composed as a duo sonata; therefore the piano was not held to mere accompaniment, but stands on equal footing with the cello in the presentation and development of ideas. The opening Allegro non troppo and the final movement Allegro underscore Brahms’ study of Bach’s “Art of the Fugue.” Yet Brahms brings the melodic trends of the Romantic era to the music. Movement one is serene in tone while the middle movement, Allegretto quasi munetto—trio, is a charming, melodic minuet, again with piano and cello staying in tight dialogue. The closing movement in the form of a fugue builds in tension as it progresses. The ending coda brings this work to a restless finish.

Program notes by Joella Utley