Stony Brook University DMA student and Egyptian horn player Amr Selim will perform the Hindemith Horn Concerto with the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Jeffrey Milarsky on Staller Center’s Main Stage Saturday, October 11, at 8 pm. The program also includes Strauss’ “Don Juan” and Bartok’s “Miraculous Mandarin.” Tickets are available at the Staller Center box office.
German composer Paul Hindemith’s sole horn concerto is rarely performed; this will be only the second performance in New York State since its composition. “This concerto is very close to my heart,” said Selim. “My first public performance of this work a few weeks after I moved to the States was just a few days after my mother’s passing. This wrenching event in my own life helped me to fully experience Hindemith’s profound grief on leaving his homeland and loved ones, his childhood memories and friends, after his flight to the USA.”
Hindemith came into conflict with the National Socialists beginning in 1933, and the Nazi regime condemned him as a “Degenerate Artist.” He moved to Switzerland in 1938, subsequently settling in the U.S. in 1940. The horn concerto was written in 1949 and premiered at Yale University with soloist Dennis Brain and Hindemith conducting.
Hindemith gave the short work (under 15 minutes) an unusual structure; the first two movements are short and fast. However, the third movement — the darkest — is very slow. Hindemith had written a short poem and included it in this final movement. He instructed the horn soloist to play the poem’s meter and inflections as a “wordless recital” throughout this passage. The poem reads as follows:
My call transforms
The concert hall into a fall-toned grove,
The present into the unremembered,
You into the cloth and custom of your ancestors,
Your fortune into their longing and resignation.
Permit these dear shadows their resurrection,
Yourself communion with them, the half-forgotten,
And me my tone-formed longing.
“This poem is gorgeous,” said Selim. “I didn’t need to try hard to capture Hindemith’s words, I already had that feeling in me. It is deep and philosophical and sums up the simple meaning of life in many ways. I relate to it on many levels. Every time I perform this passage I see a lot of pictures, real and sad ones.”
Selim is winner of the Stony Brook Concerto Competition, the Northeast Solo Horn Competition and the Ackerman Chamber Music Prize, among others. He is a horn professor at Adelphi University and Manahaim Conservatory, as well as a teaching assistant at Stony Brook.
American conductor Jeffrey Milarsky is highly acclaimed worldwide for his impeccable musicianship, exhilarating presence and innovative programming. His wide-ranging repertoire has brought him to lead such outstanding ensembles as the San Francisco Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, MET Chamber Ensemble, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New World Symphony and the New York Philharmonic chamber music series.
Michael Hershkowitz, director of Concerts and Community Music Programs in the Department of Music at Stony Brook University, will give a pre-concert lecture in the Recital Hall.
For tickets please contact Staller Center at (631) 632-2787. Box office hours are Monday through Saturday, 12 pm to 6 pm, and one hour prior to performance time.