"Un Souvenir d’hiver"
(A Winter Memory)
Composed in 2016, commissioned by the late Katia Popov (concertmaster of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra) and the California String Quartet.
The composer writes:
“Before her passing, Katia asked me to write a piece for her string quartet, for an upcoming winter holiday concert. I decided to pull inspiration from places I’ve spent some time in, which have a distinct winter season (as opposed to Los Angeles), and use musical language to travel from one to another, creating a “memory” for the musicians and the audience.
I grew up in Montreal, Canada, where the winters are harsh: cold, dark, many feet of snow, ice storms. I remember being inside during snowstorms and feeling a sense of excitement for what was going on outside — will school be canceled? Will our neighbors come over to enjoy a hot meal with us? — and comfort — for being protected in a warm house, surrounded by my family.
I lived in Hamburg, Germany, where winters are not so snowy, but windy and rainy. Those North Winds were chilling to the bone! Walking was a challenge on certain days, and the sea storms would occasionally drown the amphibious part of the Barbour with violently crashing waves. Brahms was born there, and Mendelssohn as well, so I composed this piece thinking of their music.
I spent a week or so in Vienna one late December, where Brahms, Mozart, and Schubert (among others) all lived there at one time or another. The sound of walking on those cobblestone roads, surrounded by historic imperial buildings, and walking into a breathtakingly beautiful coffee house to have a drink and warm up was inspiration for the elegant second subject in the piece.
I also spent a couple of weeks in late December in Seoul, Korea. It was very cold there too, and besides warming up at the spas, we would pop into the numerous “karaoke rooms” to have a bite to eat and maybe a drink. Korean Pop was actually inspiration for the middle section of the piece!
I hope that, as you listen to our performance, you can hop on the journey with us and imagine yourself in a place such as one of these, with the contrast of the cold winter outdoors, and the comfort of warmth and shelter indoors. We also hope to remember Katia through this music, and for those who have never met her, to create a memory of her spirit. as you experience the music."
The California String Quartet
Violin 1: Luanne Homzy
Violin 2: Hana Kim
Viola: David Walther
Cello: Evgeny Tonkha
December 11 2019, at the Adat Ari El Temple
The Music Guild