We’re featuring a different kind of podcast episode this week. Bassist Phillip Serna (who has appeared on several older Contrabass Conversations episodes) performed the Tubin Concerto with the Northwestern University Summer Orchestra a few years ago, and he’s been interested in making this performance available for download on the podcast. Since Tubin is a more contemporary composer than many of the other standard bass concerto composers, Phillip had to work out the podcast distribution rights with Tubin’s publisher Scandinavian Songs AB, so thanks to Phillip’s hard work in getting this taken care of we can offer a 100% legal complete performance of the Tubin Concerto for Double Bass.
Learn more about Phillip at his website phillipweserna.com.
Summer Orchestra: Unfinished Symphonies
Tuesday, July 29, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Dr. Robert G. Hasty, conductor; Phillip Serna, double bass
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra (1948) Eduard Tubin
Allegro con moto (1905-1982)
Allegro non troppo
Allegro non troppo, poco marciale
Phillip W. Serna, double bass
A native of Houston, Texas, Dr. Phillip W. Serna (double bass and viola da gamba) is an active and enthusiastic performer of early music, as well as the contemporary, solo, orchestral, and chamber repertoires. Studying with Jeffrey M. Hill, Dr. Serna earned his high school diploma from the Instrumental Music Department at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, TX. Afterwards, he earned his Bachelor of Music in double bass performance with Stephen Tramontozzi at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1998. He later completed his Master of Music at Northwestern University School of Music in 2001 as a Civic Orchestra of Chicago Graduate Fellow. In 2007, Phillip Serna received the Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University where he studied double bass with international soloist DaXun Zhang and formerly with Chicago Symphony Orchestra member Michael Hovnanian. Additionally, he studied viola da gamba with Newberry Consort founder Mary Springfels.
Since 2003, Dr. Serna has been Principal Double Bass of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra and has been recently elected to a two-year term on the Board of Directors of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has performed regularly with other orchestras such as the Bach Chamber Orchestra & Choir, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonic Orchestra, Racine Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra as well as the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. In March of 2007, Dr. Serna performed Giovanni Bottesini’s Concerto No.2 in b-minor with the Waubonsie Valley High School Orchestra in Aurora, IL after having performed Estonian composer Eduard Tubin’s stirring Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra with Northwestern University’s Summer Orchestra under the direction of Robert Hasty in July of 2003. Dr. Serna is a member of the board of the Early Music Chicago arts advocacy and performance organization, as well as the current president of the Viola da Gamba Society Third Coast, the Chicago chapter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. Dr. Serna regularly performs on violas da gamba (treble viol, tenor viol and bass viol), period double bass/ violone and vielle with period instrument ensembles and organizations such as the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Ars Antigua, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Bottom Line Continuo Consort, Chicago Early Music Consort, Period Opera Cosi fan Tutte with Chicago Opera Theater, Classical Arts Orchestra, Comic Intermezzo, Early Music Chicago, the Janus Ensemble, the Newberry Consort, the Evelyn Dunbar Memorial Early Music Festival at Northwestern University, the Oriana Singers, the Second City Musick, the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols, the Viola da Gamba Society of America Conclave Consort Cooperative, as well as the Concert for Compassion Viol Consort and the Forces of Virtue Ensemble and Choir, dedicated to raising money for disaster relief and other charities. In January 2007, the Viola da Gamba Society awarded Dr. Serna a grant as part of its Grants-in-Aid to Young Artists which will assist in Dr. Serna’s many early music endeavors.
Dr. Serna was formerly an editor and officer in Michael Hovnanian’s music publishing company Discordia Music, specializing in the publication of well-researched editions of new works and transcriptions for the double bass with the goal of expanding the performance possibilities of the instrument. Dr. Serna has contributed to articles published in the Viola da Gamba Society of America News, Early Music America Magazine, the American String Teacher, Illinois ASTA’s the Scroll, the American String Teachers Association String Teacher’s Cookbook – Creative Recipes for a Successful Program, and Bass World – the Official Magazine of the International Society of Bassists. Additionally, Dr. Serna is also an active contributor to the Contrabass Conversations podcast and the online bass resource DoubleBassblog.org.
In addition to his intense performance schedule, Dr. Serna teaches lessons on double bass, bass guitar, guitar, and viola da gamba. Dr. Serna also presents master classes and workshops on modern and period double bass, most recently for the Illinois American String Teachers Association Teacher Enrichment Workshop in Aurora, IL. As a passionate advocate of early music, Dr. Serna has championed the viola da gamba with his initiative ‘Viols in Our Schools,’ bringing solo and chamber music for viols into Chicago area classrooms. Additionally, Dr. Serna joins the viola da gamba faculty at the Whitewater Early Music Festival and the Viola da Gamba Society’s Summer Conclave in 2008. Dr. Serna currently teaches at the Carl Sandburg High School in School District 230, Glenbard East High School and Glenbard South High School in School District 87, Willowbrook High School in DuPage High School District 88, Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville’s Indian Prairie School District 204 and Wheeling High School in School District 214. Dr. Serna formerly taught at Beautiful Music in Downers Grove, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, Maine Township West High School, Maine Township East High School, and Maine Township South High School in School District 207 and the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, IL. Dr. Serna lives in Plainfield, IL with his best friend and wife, Magdalena.
For more information on Phillip Serna, visit http://www.phillipwserna.com/, http://www.spiritofgambo.org/, http://www.chicagoearlymusicconsort.org/, http://www.violsinourschools.org/ & http://www.vdgsa.org/3rdCoast/
Robert G. Hasty, DMus, Northwestern University, Senior Lecturer, Conducting and Ensembles
Associate director of orchestras. Conductor, Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, and Summer Orchestra. Teacher of graduate and undergraduate conducting courses. Teacher, adjudicator, clinician, violinist. Music Director, Merit Symphony Orchestra, Chicago, IL. Conductor, National High School Music Institute Orchestra. Former conductor, La Primavera Orchestra, Irvine Youth Symphony, Metropolis Youth Symphony. Former vice president of string education, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association. Music researcher investigating critical listening while conducting; presented at the international meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Sciences of Music. Studied conducting with Victor Yampolsky and violin with Alice Schoenfeld.
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra (1948) Eduard Tubin
Eduard Tubin, an Estonian composer and conductor, completed his Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra on the 31st of May 1948, with its orchestral premiere performance in Bogotá on the 8th of March 1957. Tubin studied composition under Eller at the Tartu Academy (1924-1930) and later went on to conduct the Vanemuine Theatre Orchestra (1930-44). With a keen interest in the new music, he conducted Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms in Tallinn in 1936, and two years following met Kodály in Budapest where he became acquainted with Bartók’s work. In 1944 he moved to Sweden, where he composed this concerto. Tubin was naturalized as a Swedish citizen in 1961 and was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1982.
In addition to his concerto for double bass, he composed two concerti for violin, a concerto for balalaika, and a concertino for piano with orchestral accompaniment. In other genres, he composed sonatas for violin, viola, flute, and saxophone. Additionally, Tubin composed choral music, a requiem, songs, solo piano music, ballets, and symphonies. At the time of his death, he was in the process of composing his 11th Symphony.
The Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra is continuous, with no breaks between movements. Several of the movements are separated by a sequence of orchestral interludes. The opening Allegro con moto begins with an energetic theme accompanied by jazz-like rhythms in the accompaniment. The following Allegro non troppo is calmer and more lyrical, in which the soloist presents a theme that will later be developed in the accompaniment. The role of the soloist moves between being the prominent line to accompanying melodic fragments in the winds. This interplay creates a sense of tension culminating in a dramatic climax of brilliant triads. The Andante sostenuto is built upon a broadly developed melody over a rich harmonic cushion in the accompaniment. When this melody appears for a second time, it is accompanied by syncopated figures creating a sense of further motion. Listen for this cantabile melodic material in the closing movement with the soloist accompanying the wind soloists. Becoming ever more agitated, the tension in the slow movement increases in tension with a crescendo towards a dramatic Cadenza, developing a number of harmonic and rhythmic motives from the previous movements. The cadenza bridges the gap between the slow movement and the final Allegro non troppo, poco marciale. The finale begins, tentatively at first, with the soloist taking up the orchestra’s thematic material. As well as presenting material from all of the previous movements, the finale increases in dramatic tension towards a mighty and majestic climax and coda.
– Program Notes by Phillip W. Serna, July 2003
Special thanks to Conductor Robert Hasty & Pick-Staiger Concert Hall Director of Concerts Richard van Kleeck at Northwestern University’s School of Music for their permission of use for Contrabass Conversations and the Double Bass Blog. Also, sincerest thanks to Peo Nylén of Scandinavian Songs AB for their assistance in licensing the work for internet distribution.
For more information on Phillip W. Serna, visit http://www.phillipwserna.com/
For more information on the Northwestern University School of Music and Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at http://www.music.northwestern.edu/ & http://www.pickstaiger.org/
For more information on Eduard Tubin, visit the International Eduard Tubin Society at http://www.tubinsociety.com/. To rent the music for Tubin’s Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra in the United States, visit Bossey & Hawkes Music Publishers at http://www.boosey.com/. For licensing information, please visit Scandinavian Songs AB at http://www.scandinavian-songs.se/
CREDITS 2003 – NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF ORCHESTRAS
Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, Summer Orchestra, University Philharmonia
SUMMER ADMINISTRATOR OF ORCHESTRAS
Phillip W. Serna
SUMMER ORCHESTRA ASSISTANT
Audri L. Nelson
Brandon Brown, concertmaster
Yun Kim, principal
Clark Carruth, principal
Julia Liu, principal
Phillip W. Serna, principal