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Songbook: Violin Concerto (Chinese Premiere)

  • Sichuan Conservatory of Music, Chengdu, China Xin Sheng Lu Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, 610014 China (map)

Ross Monroe Winter is joined by the Chengdu Symphony Orchestra in the Chinese premiere at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

Ross Monroe Winter

Ross Monroe Winter

About the Artist

Violinist Ross Monroe Winter's career spans multiple genres in the orchestral, chamber music, and solo fields as well as work in film and television.

Highlights of upcoming solo appearances include performances with Brazil's Orquestra Sinfônica da Universidade de Caxias do Sul and the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra in John Corigliano's "The Red Violin" Concerto, and with China's Chengdu Symphony Orchestra in Daron Hagen's concerto "Songbook". Recent solo appearances have been with the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra in separate duo concertos with Juilliard violin professor Laurie Smukler (Mozart's Concertone), and UNI's Julia Bullard (Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante); with Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra (Vivaldi and Max Reger's Four Seasons); and with the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra in Anna Clyne's "Prince of Clouds": a concerto for two violins performed with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond, and conductor Laura Jackson.

Currently a member of the Richmond Symphony (VA) and the IRIS Orchestra (TN), Dr. Winter served for two seasons as interim Associate Concertmaster of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (IA/IL). He has previously been a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Boston Philharmonic, and has performed with the National (Washington, DC), Milwaukee, Baltimore,  Alabama, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras, as well as the orchestras of Albany, Rhode Island, Roanoke, and South Florida. He also performed as guest concertmaster with the Des Moines Metro Opera in 2017.

A sought after teacher, Dr. Winter is Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Northern Iowa School of Music. During the summers, he teaches violin and chamber music at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy where he has also served as Academy Director, and is currently Principal Second Violin of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra. He also serves on the violin and chamber music faculty at The Orchestra Project: a joint festival produced by VCU and the Richmond Symphony in Virginia. Previously, he has taught at George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, Purchase College, New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and “Festival Youth Orchestra” Summer Institute, and The Chamber Music Workshop in Lexington, MA. He has given masterclasses at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Penn State University, The Boston Conservatory, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Syracuse University, James Madison University, Arkansas State University, and many others.

Devoted to chamber music, he was a founding member (and on the Board of Directors) of the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, which has been ensemble-in-residence at WCVE Public Radio and formerly at the Lake George Music Festival. He is frequently heard in recital, as a guest with numerous ensembles, and in the summers as a member of the Wintergreen Chamber Players and the UNI Faculty Piano Quartet. He has performed at the festivals of Aspen, Santo Domingo, Todi, Maastricht, Virginia Arts, and Music at Penn's Woods.

Dr. Winter holds BM and MM degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied with Boston Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, and from the State University of New York Purchase College-Conservatory of Music with Laurie Smukler as a graduate assistant. He completed his doctoral studies at The Catholic University of America's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in Washington, DC with Jody Gatwood. Other principal teachers include Sylvia Rosenberg, Kurt Sassmannshaus, and Philip Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet.

His most notable student has been Robert Downey, Jr. for the Warner Bros. film Sherlock Holmes (2009) while also playing the principal role of Violinist. Other tastes of Hollywood include roles as a featured performer in Sex and the City 2 (2010), Taylor Swift's NBC Thanksgiving Special (2010), HBO's series Mildred Pierce (2011) starring Kate Winslet, the BET Honors with Aretha Franklin (2014), and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012). He also spent time working on the USA Network series Royal Pains as an advisor and tutoring guest star Sami Gayle for the episode “A History of Violins” (2011). Recordings for Albany Records, Sono Luminus, AAM Recordings, and Naxos.

Learn more about Ross Monroe Winter here.

About the Sichuan Conservatory of Music

Founded firstly as the Sichuan Provincial Experimental School of Theatre ﹠Music in the autumn of 1939, Sichuan Conservatory of Music(SCCM) has changed into its present name in June 1959. Currently, SCCM has become a higher education institution for its comprehensive art subjects, excellent teaching staff, well-equipped teaching facilities and distinguished teaching achievements. SCCM has a beautiful environment with rich artistic atmosphere. It has over 400 professors and associate professors with a student body of over 14,000. There are 31 teaching departments, including music, fine arts, dancing, mass media, theatre movie ﹠TV acting etc which contain 126 majors, and 18 research centers. 

SCCM has two school yards. One is located beside the Jin Jiang River with 20 acres, and the other in Xindu district with 167acres. It has several tens of music halls, rehearsal halls and concert halls, standardizing and modern gym and swimming pool. SCCM also possesses one of the biggest music and art literature libraries and audio-visual collections among art colleges of national wide. Exhibition halls of college history and southwest minority nationality are distinguishing and objects are abundant. 

SCCM focuses on teaching and actively develops education on all levels. SCCM is authorized by the State Council to confer Master degree of Arts in music, the first class course of Master of Science in music and dance, art, and art theory, MFA , Master of education, Master of public administration. SCCM with Sichuan University has co-cultivated Doctor of music communication since 2009 and set up the postdoctoral innovation practice base in 2013. Students from foreign countries and HongKong, Macaw and Taiwan areas have been allowed to study in SCCM since 2003. SCCM has national orchestra, chorus, and symphony orchestra, the only professional operation orchestra in all music colleges of China, SCCM students’ orchestra and middle school students’ orchestra. 

SCCM was authorized the excellent grade in undergraduate education evaluation by Ministry of Education in 2008. Composition and theory of composition, musical performance are national characteristic specialty; musicology, industrial design, drawing and dance are provincial characteristic specialty. Composition and theory of composition, piano and fine arts are provincial key subjects. Teachers and students have gained over 430 international prizes and over 1,400 national prizes in recent five years. The Southwest Music Research Center of SCCM is the Key research base of Sichuan province philosophy and science.

Learn more about the Sichuan Conservatory of Music here.

Program Note about the Concerto

The idea of composing a piece for Michael Ludwig and JoAnn Falletta came up over dinner after a concert performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic of my opera Shining Brow on the night of my birthday in 2006. Michael's beautiful, singing tone during the many prominent violin solos in the opera's score moved me to suggest that we make a violin concerto together.

For inspiration, I turned to daily life. Each evening, as part of his bedtime ritual, my wife sings our son folk songs and spirituals. A professional composer and singer, she embroiders the tunes and develops them. Through the door, or over the baby monitor, as I tidy up the home we share, I listen in. This to me is an important manifestation of the musical fabric of our domesticity. I chose four of those melodies to serve as the musical basis of the concerto.

I began with Cailín Óg a Stór, a traditional 16th century Irish air that figures prominently in James Joyce's writings and is (as The Croppy Boy) one of the very saddest songs about the Irish rising of 1798. The second tune I explored was The Praties, another Irish ballad  -- this one about the Potato Famine of 1740-41 that caused the exodus of so many Irish families. The third was Look Away, Over Yandro, one of the best known and loved traditional Appalachian folk songs. The last was Amazing Grace, a beloved tune that may have originated as a work song sung by 18th century American slaves.

Despite the fact that extra-musical associations are inevitable (I wasn't immune) when one delves into the collective musical memory of folk song for inspiration, Songbook is not a programmatic piece.

On a purely musical level, the first movement consists of nine variations on Croppy Boy. The second is a chaconne based on the harmonies that underpin The Praties. The third is a passacaglia based on the tune of Over Yandro. The finale bookends the work by picking up with a tenth variation on Croppy Boy before overlaying Amazing Grace and the other tunes (the effect is sort of like listening to a composer juggle) atop it one after the other for a series of five more variations, ending with one marked "quasi un mbira." (A mbira is an African thumb piano.)

Appropriately enough, the concerto received its premiere by Michael and JoAnn with the Buffalo Philharmonic May 13, 14, and 15th in celebration of the orchestra's 75th Anniversary -- and a few days before the projected birth of my second son.

Learn more about the concerto here.



Earlier Event: December 8
Appassionato for Koto & Cello
Later Event: March 2
Appassionato for Koto & Cello