Ensemble LPR

Ensemble LPR

Ensemble LPR

David Handler, Artistic Director,

Lara St John, violin :

Jessie Montgomery
, (1981-), Starburst (2012)

Ralph Vaughan Williams, (1872-1958), The Lark Ascending (1920) arr, Arman
Lara St John, violin

Matthew Hindson, (1968-), Maralinga (US Premiere)
Lara St John, violin


Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Concerto in E-flat, “Dumbarton Oaks” (1937-38)

Benjamin Britten, (1913-76), Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op.10 (1936)
I. Introduction and Theme
II. Variation 1: Adagio
III. Variation 2: March
IV. Variation 3: Romance
V. Variation 4: Aria Italiana
VI. Variation 5: Bour é e classique
VII. Variation 6: Wiener Waltz
VIII. Variation 7: Moto perpetuo
IX. Variation 8: Funeral March
X. Variation 9: Chant
XI. Variation 10: Fugue and Finale

The performance of Ensemble LPR has been made possible by a generous anonymous grant**

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Ensemble LPR

Named after and headquartered at the acclaimed New York City venue Le Poisson Rouge, Ensemble LPR is an assemblage of New York’s finest musicians. The group personifies the venue’s commitment to aesthetic diversity and artistic excellence.

Ensemble LPR performs an eclectic spectrum of music—from works by the finest living composers, to compelling interpretations of the standard repertoire—and collaborates with distinguished artists from classical and non-classical backgrounds: Timo Andres, Simone Dinnerstein, San Fermin, Daniel Hope, Taka Kigawa, Jennifer Koh, Mica Levi, David Longstreth (of Dirty Projectors), John Lurie, Ursula Oppens, Max Richter, André de Ridder, Christopher Rountree and Fred Sherry, to name a few.

In January 2015, Ensemble LPR made its Deutsche Grammophon debut with Follow, Poet, featuring the music of Mohammed Fairouz and the words of Seamus Heaney and John F. Kennedy. Ensemble LPR’s acclaimed Central Park performance followed in June, part of the 110th Anniversary of the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts.

In 2008 Le Poisson Rouge changed the classical music landscape, creating a new environment in which to experience art music. In doing so, Le Poisson Rouge expanded classical music listenership. The New York Times has heralded Le Poisson Rouge as “[a] forward-thinking venue that seeks to showcase disparate musical styles under one roof” and “[the] coolest place to hear contemporary music.” The Los Angeles Times raves, “[The] place isn’t merely cool…the venue is a downright musical marvel.” Le Poisson Rouge Co-Founder David Handler brings this same ethos to Ensemble LPR, of which he is Founding Executive & Artistic Director.

Lara St. John

Canadian-born violinist Lara St. John has been described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and a “high-powered soloist” by The New York Times.

She has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and with the Boston Pops, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Amsterdam Symphony, Brazilian Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony, China Philharmonic, Hong Kong Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, and the orchestras of Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland among many others.

The Los Angeles Times wrote Lara St. John happens to be a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat.”

Her world premeire recording of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto prompted Gramophone to write: “It’s the sort of work that should get audiences running, not walking, back to concert halls on new-music nights.”

She performs on the 1779 “Salabue” Guadagnini thanks to an anonymous donor and Heinl & Co. of Toronto.


The first half of the evening’s music is quintessentially programatic, taking us from the cosmos to the air to the earthly perils of human weakness and destruction, a subject all too relevant today.  The second half features two 20th century masters tipping their hat to the style and form of earlier times, with some of the most exquisitely crafted and – in the case of the Britten – too little known work in the repertoire.  [David Handler]
We’re delighted to be working with the supremely talented Lara St John who will play two pieces originally composed for violin and piano (the latter in the program, specifically for her), tonight with string orchestra.  [David Handler]

, a brief one-movement work for string orchestra, is a play on imagery of rapidly changing musical colors. Exploding gestures are juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies in an attempt to create a multidimensional soundscape. – Jessie Montgomerey

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending is one of the most popular works in the classical repertoire. The piece was inspired by the 122 line poem of the same name, written by Williams’ countryman George Meredith about the song of the skylark. Originally composed for violin and piano in 1914, the piece was not premiered until 1920, the same year it was re-scored for violin and orchestra in what would become the more frequently performed version of the piece. The notoriety of the piece has far surpassed that of the poem, and the all-string version you will hear this evening was orchestrated by Nurhan Arman, Music Director of the Sinfonia Toronto. The lark’s distinctive song is represented by the solo violin, opening and closing the piece with two extended lyrical cadenzas based on the same melody over a continuous and hushed string harmony. A shorter cadenza brings on the contrasting middle section in which two British folk melodies are introduced. In the end, serenity prevails with the solo violin lifting the listener upward until its song fades into silence.

Maralinga is a place in the South Australian desert, and was the site for secret British nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Not a happy place in Australian history for either the Aboriginal inhabitants of the area, nor the Australian service personnel who were unwittingly used as guinea pigs for the effects of radiation. The site and its history remains a stain upon Australia’s historical record. This piece makes reference to the long Aboriginal history at Maralinga as well as more recent events and attitudes. Maralinga was written for Lara St. John, who premiered the piece on 20 March, 2009. It was commissioned by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. – Matthew Hindson

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10, is the work that brought Benjamin Britten to international attention. The piece is dedicated “to F.B. A tribute with affection and admiration”. In 1932 Britten began writing a set of variations on a theme by Frank Bridge, with whom he studied from 1927. It wasn’t until 1937 that Boyd Neel, having been invited to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, commissioned Britten to write a piece for string orchestra. Neel had previously conducted Britten’s film score for Love From a Stranger. For a theme, Britten took the second of Bridge’s Three Idylls for string quartet, Op. 6, No. 2. Each variation is a representation of a specific quality in Bridge’s personality as understood by Britten: the Adagio represents Bridge’s “integrity”; the March, his “energy”; the Romance, his charm; the Aria Italiana, his humour; the Bourrée, his tradition; the Wiener Walzer, his enthusiasm; the Moto perpetuo, his vitality; the Funeral March, his sympathy; the Chant, his reverence; the Fugue, his skill (containing references to other works by Bridge); and their mutual affection appears in the Finale. These connections were made explicit on the score Britten presented to Bridge, but they do not appear in the printed score. Britten also imitates the styles of a number of composers such as Gioachino Rossini, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky. Paul Kildea writes of the piece: “Though the theme is played in the opening section, it is done so rather whimsically, and it is only at the end of the piece that it is spelled out with weight and clarity. When it arrives it makes sense of everything that has gone before it, demanding that we start again from the beginning, hearing the work once more, this time with our ears alert.”

Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat, subtitled Dumbarton Oaks 8-v-1938 (1937–38) is a chamber concerto named for the Dumbarton Oaks estate of Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss in Washington, DC, who commissioned it for their 30th wedding anniversary. Composed in Stravinsky’s neo-classical period, the piece is one of Stravinsky’s two chamber concertos and is scored for a chamber orchestra of flute, B♭ clarinet, bassoon, two horns, three violins, three violas, two cellos, and two double basses. The three movements – Tempo giusto, Allegretto, and Con moto – are performed without pause. The commission was brokered by Nadia Boulanger who conducted the May 8, 1938 private premiere in the music room at Dumbarton Oaks, while the composer was hospitalized with tuberculosis. The piece was the last Stravinsky completed in Europe. The composer writes: “My Concerto in E-flat… was begun almost immediately upon my return to Europe after Jeux de cartes, in the spring of 1937. I had moved from Paris to Annemasse in the Haute Savoie to be near my daughter Mika [Ludmila] who, mortally ill with tuberculosis, was confined to a sanatorium there. Annemasse is near Geneva, and [conductor] Ernest Ansermet was therefore a neighbor and also a helpful friend at this, perhaps the most difficult time of my life. [Ludmila died in 1938.] I played Bach regularly during the composition of the Concerto, and was greatly attracted to the “Brandenburg” Concertos. Whether or not the first theme of my [first] movement is a conscious borrowing from the third Brandenburg, however, I do not know.”


Ensemble LPR


Ensemble LPR

Simone Dinnerstein, piano

John Adams, (1947-), Shaker Loops, 1983

I. Shaking and Trembling
II. Hymning Slews
III. Loops and Verses
IV. A Final Shaking

W. A. Mozart, (1756-91), Piano Concerto No 23 in A, K488  (1786)

I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Allegro assiai
(Simone Dinnerstein, piano)


Arnold Schoenberg, (1874-1951), Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op. 4 [1899 revised 1943]

I. Sehr langsam
II. Etwas bewegter
III. Schwer betont
IV. Sehr breit und langsam
V. Sehr ruhig

David Handler, Solstice (1980) [World Premiere]


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Musical Notes:

Solstice is written for a divided or double string orchestra and explores the polarity and ultimately the congruity of light and dark, sacred and profane. Pastoral dance, hard work and ethereal stasis are ideas represented in distinct musical material that are recurring and assigned almost without exception to the same instruments with each iteration.

The incongruity of these ideas is accentuated early in the piece. After a convergence and build to the piece’s only unified effort by the total ensemble, the ideas are reintroduced one by one, not as disparate items as they once were but as complementary parts to a greater and triumphant whole.

Derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), the solstice is the moment when the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path comes to a stop before reversing direction. This is experienced on most of earth as the longest (in summer) and shortest (in winter) days of the year. The idea of this momentary stasis and the perceived extremes that result was a way of understanding the death of a dear relative, whose life and passing were the genesis of the piece.

Ensemble LPR

Born out of the acclaimed New York City venue, Le Poisson Rouge, Ensemble LPR is an assemblage of New York’s finest musicians personifying the venue’s commitment to aesthetic
diversity, artistic excellence and true musical ambassadorship. Ensemble LPR performs an eclectic spectrum of music – from works by the finest living composers, to compelling interpretations of the standard repertoire and collaborations with distinguished artists from classical as well as non-classical backgrounds. The Ensemble has partnered with such extraordinary artists as Timo Andres, San Fermin, Daniel Hope, Taka Kigawa, Jennifer Koh, Mica Levi, David Longstreth (of Dirty Projectors), John Lurie, Ursula Oppens, Max Richter, André de Ridder, Christopher Rountree, and Fred Sherry.

In January of this year Ensemble LPR made its recording debut on Deutsche Grammophon, with Follow Poet. The album features the music of Mohammed Fairouz and the words of Seamus Heaney and John F. Kennedy.

In 2008 Le Poisson Rouge changed the classical music landscape, creating a new environment
in which to experience art music. In doing so, Le Poisson Rouge expanded the classical music listenership and pushed the popular palette in all directions. The New York Times heralds Le
Poisson Rouge as “[a] forward-thinking venue that seeks to showcase disparate musical styles under one roof…artistically planned eclecticism” and “[the] coolest place to hear contemporary music.” The Los Angeles Times raves “[the] place isn’t merely cool…the venue is a downright musical marvel.” With Ensemble LPR, Founding Executive & Artistic Director David Handler brings this same ethos to the creative forefront, channeling the venue’s curatorial daring and merit to the group’s own artistry.

Simone Dinnerstein

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein is a searching and inventive artist who is motivated by a desire to find the musical core of every work she approaches. NPR reports, “She compels the listener to follow her in a journey of discovery filled with unscheduled detours . . . She’s actively listening to every note she plays, and the result is a wonderfully expressive interpretation.” The New York-based pianist gained an international following because of the remarkable success of
her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which she raised the funds to record. Released in 2007 on Telarc, it ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many “Best of 2007” lists including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker.

The four solo albums Dinnerstein has released since then – The Berlin Concert (Telarc), Bach: A Strange Beauty (Sony), Something Almost Being Said (Sony), and Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias (Sony) – have also topped the classical charts. Dinnerstein was the bestselling instrumentalist of 2011 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart and was included in NPR’s 2011 100 Favorite Songs from all genres. In spring 2013, Simone Dinnerstein and singer-songwriter Tift Merritt released an
album together on Sony called Night, a unique collaboration uniting classical, folk, and rock worlds, exploring common terrain and uncovering new musical landscapes. Dinnerstein was among the top ten bestselling artists of 2014 on the Billboard Classical Chart.

In February 2015, Sony Classical released Dinnerstein’s newest album Broadway-Lafayette, which celebrates the time-honored transatlantic link between France and America and includes
Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Philip Lasser’s The Circle and the Child: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, written for Dinnerstein. The album was
recorded with conductor Kristjan Järvi and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra by Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse.

Dinnerstein’s performance schedule has taken her around the world since her triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2005 to venues including the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and London’s Wigmore Hall; festivals that include the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen, Verbier, and Ravinia festivals, and the Stuttgart Bach Festival; and performances with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Kristjan Järvi’s Absolute Ensemble, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and the Tokyo Symphony.

Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the U.S. for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. She gave the first
classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system when she played at the Avoyelles Correctional Center, and performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to her community, in 2009 Dinnerstein founded Neighborhood Classics, a concert series open to the public hosted by New York public schools which raises funds for the schools.

Dinnerstein is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she was a student of Peter Serkin. She also studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music and in London with Maria Curcio. Simone Dinnerstein lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and son. She is managed by Ekonomisk Mgmt and is a Sony Classical artist.

John Adams
began composing relatively early; at ten he started composing, and by 14 he had heard his works performed. Entering Harvard University in 1965, Adams became the conductor for the Bach Society Orchestra. At Walter Piston’s Clarinet Concerto world premiere, Adams performed on the clarinet as the soloist. He moved to San Francisco in 1972 to teach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music until 1984.

While at the conservatory, Adams worked in an electronic music studio and was the conductor of the New Music Ensemble. It was in San Francisco that he heard the minimalist works of Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley for the first time, and was immediately drawn to its sound. However, he soon felt that although minimalism was “the most important stylistic development in Western art music since the Fifties”, the genre had its limits, since repetition was its foundation.

Adams coined the term “post-minimalism” starting with his piece for string septet Shaker Loops (1978). This style is characterized by greater dynamic contrasts and a more fluid and layered sound. The completion and premiere of Harmonium in 1981 was well-received by critics and the public, establishing Adams as a major American composer. In 1987, he made yet another impact on the music scene with his opera Nixon in China. Another major opera work followed in 1991, titled The Death of Klinghoffer, which, like Nixon in China, detailed a historic event.

At the turn of the century, Adams composed El Niño (2000), an oratorio based on the Christmas story of Jesus Christ. With the tragic events that transpired on September 11, 2001, Adams was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers to compose a piece in memory of the victims. The result, On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), is a work for orchestra, chorus and children’s choir on pre-recorded tape, earning Adams a 2003 Pulitzer Prize.

John Adams continues to compose to this day, with his most recent work being The Gospel According to the Other Mary (Oratorio for Chorus, Orchestra and Soloists) in 2013.

David Handler
is a composer of acoustic and electronic music. His work has been described by The New York Times as “eerie” and “superbly wrought,” and has been characterized by its use of familiar, often tonal relics within a narrative structure and polytonal language that seek to explore the notions of incongruity and deconstruction.

Commissions include the transcription and orchestration of Riceboy Sleeps by Alex Somers & Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Rós, commissioned by Lincoln Center in 2011, and premieres by The
Ossia Symphony and The Manhattan School of Music Symphony. Prominent performances include a Composer Portrait curated by Orange Mountain Music’s Richard Guérin at Barbez, the 2013 21c Liederabend festival at BAM, and the world premiere of Celtic Verses at the launch of Ensemble LPR’s Follow Poet, release on Deutsche Grammophon earlier this year.

Handler began studying the violin at age three and attended the Manhattan School of Music as both a violin and composition major. As a violinist and violist, Handler collaborates regularly with Horacio Gutiérrez and has played under the baton of Kurt Masur, Zdeněk Mácal, and Jerzy Semkow, with whom he studied conducting.

Handler is the co-founder of (Le) Poisson Rouge and the Founding Executive & Artistic Director of Ensemble LPR. The venue’s mission is to revive the symbiotic relationship between art and revelry, thus invigorating the musical landscape for artists and audiences alike. In its six years of operation the venue has received numerous awards and accolades, from ASCAP, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker.

Speaking Engagements include: The North American Critics Alliance at Lincoln Center, University of Missouri – Kansas City, New York University, Syracuse University, Hunter College, The New School, and The Manhattan School of Music.
Handler sits on the advisory boards of CavanKerry Press, The David Lynch Foundation, and The Mount Sinai Department of Psychiatry. He lives in New York City with his wife Marlene May