Paula Robison, flute • Frederic Hand, guitar

Sunday, July 5, 4 pm


Songs of the Spirit

1. Hymns and Spirituals
Arranged by Robison/Hand

Shall We Gather at the River?
American Hymn

The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Traditional Irish Hymn

I Wonder as I Wander
John Jacob Niles (1892-1980)

We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder
African-American Spiritual

2. Stories
Arranged by Robison/Hand

Song of the Rice Sowers
Italian Folk Melody

Raisins and Almonds
Abraham Goldfaden (1840-1908)

Yadin's Song
Ariel Zilber (b. 1943)

3. Two Sephardic Folksongs
(for solo guitar)
Arranged by Frederic Hand

Una Pastora Yo Ami

A La Una Yo Naci

4. Music of the Countryside
(for solo flute)

Syrinx Claude
Debussy (1862-1918)

Jacques Hotteterre (1674-1763)

Image Op. 38
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)


5. Four Pieces for Flute and Guitar
Frederic Hand (b. 1947)

1. Celebration and Dance
2. In Gratitude
3. In the Woods
4. Mountain Song

World Premiere
Commissioned for the Centenary of the Maverick
Concerts, with the generous
support of Willetta Warberg Bar-Illan

6. Italian Love Songs
Arranged by Robison/Hand

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618)

O Cessate di Piagarmi
Alessandro Scarlatti (1600-1725)

Selve Amiche
Antonio Caldara (1670-1756)

La Serenata
Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)

Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)

next week

Saturday, July 11, 8 pm
Perry Beekman, guitar and vocals,
with Lou Pappas, bass, and Peter Tomlinson, piano
The Harold Arlen Songbook

Sunday, July 12, 4 pm
Cypress Quartet

Music of Beethoven, Dvořák, and
Shokan composer George Tsontakis


Program Notes © 2015 by Miriam Villchur Berg*



At the age of seventeen, Paula Robison played for Julius Baker, who remarked to her parents: “Now I know how Jascha Heifetz’s teacher must have felt… She is flawless.” He insisted that she move to New York to study with him at the Juilliard School.

When she was twenty years old, Leonard Bernstein invited Robison to solo with the New York Philharmonic. The New York Times wrote of her Carnegie recital debut: “Music bursts from her as naturally as leaves from trees.” She won First Prize at the Geneva International Competition, the first American to receive this honor.

Paula Robison has commissioned works for flute and orchestra by numerous contemporary composers, and premiered music by composers from Lowell Liebermann to Carla Bley. For over twenty years she has celebrated the classics in her series with chamber orchestra in the Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Robison was a founding Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing with them for twenty seasons. In 2006 Paula Robison founded Pergola Recordings. Critically acclaimed releases have included collaborations with internationally known performers.

Paula Robison has taught at the Juilliard School and given classes all over the world. She is DMA honoris causa from the San Fransisco Conservatory, and occupies the Donna Hieken Flute Chair at New England Conservatory.

Frederic Hand is a Grammy-nominated and Emmy-winning composer and recording artist. He has been the appointed guitarist and lutenist with the Metropolitan Opera since 1986. He has performed onstage with Placido Domingo and with Luciano Pavarotti, conducted by James Levine, and has performed as a guest artist with the Mostly Mozart Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Waverly Consort, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’'s, among others.

Noted for his unique performances of early music, Hand is the creator and director of Jazzantiqua, a group The New York Times has described as “scintillating and brilliant.” Hand arranged and performed the theme from the Academy Award-winning film, Kramer vs. Kramer (starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep). His playing and improvisations have also been heard in This Boy’s Life (with Leonardo Di Caprio and Robert DeNiro) and The Next Man (with Sean Connery). Hand’s original scoring for television includes Sesame Street, As the World Turns, and The Guiding Light, for which he was awarded an Emmy.

His composition Prayer, recorded by John Williams, was nominated for a Grammy award. He recently received the Samuel Sanders Award from the Classical Recording Foundation for his recording of Places of the Spirit with Paula Robison.

Hand’s tours throughout North America and Europe have been met with the highest critical acclaim. He has taught master classes and given residencies at major schools including the New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and Dartmouth College.

A graduate of the Mannes College of Music, Hand studied in England with Julian Bream on a Fulbright scholarship. Formerly head of the guitar departments at SUNY Purchase and Bennington College, he serves on the faculty of Mannes College and the New School for Music.



This arrangement of Shall We Gather at the River, with its flowing, arpeggiated chords, was inspired by a walk along the tree-shaded banks of the Jordan River, in Galilee.

The King of Love My Shepherd Is, based on the Twenty-third Psalm, is a lilting Irish American hymn.

We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder is a well-known African-American hymn, sung when people gather to affirm that we are all are searchers in this life. The simple melody is arranged in a gospel setting with a swing to give it an inner lightness and freedom.

Song of the Rice Sowers: Through the centuries, wherever rice is cultivated, women spend hours in backbreaking labor, bent over in water to their knees, sowing and caring for the rice plants. In the early twentieth century, young Italian women were taken from their villages to work in rice fields in Lombardy and Piemonte. Far from their families, homesick and lonely, they sang to each other as they worked, comforting each other with the power of music.

Raisins and Almonds: This wonderful Jewish lullaby (in Yiddish titled “Rozhinkes mit Mandlen”) was written by Abraham Goldfaden in the late nineteenth century. It became so well known that it is now considered a “traditional” melody.

About Yadin’s Song, Ms. Robison says, “In 2006, I was in Israel, and visited the family of Yadin Tenenbaum, the brilliant flutist who was killed in his tank in the Sinai in 1973, and in whose memory Leonard Bernstein’s Halil for flute and orchestra was written. What beautiful and kind people! We sat on the couch where Yadin sat, they showed me pictures, gave me a recording of his playing, and then suddenly Yadin’s parents, asked, ‘'Would you like to play his flute?’ They opened the long-closed case, I played Yadin’s flute, and he was alive in the room with us. I’ll never forget those moments, never. Yadin recorded a beautiful melody by Ariel Zilber, and we include our version of Yadin’s Song in his memory.




Sephardic Songs
The music of the medieval and Renaissance periods has often served as an inspiration for Mr. Hand’s creative work with the guitar. These Sephardic songs, translated below from the original Ladino, survived in the same way as the people who sang them, by assimilating into various cultures.

Una Pastora Yo Ami: “I loved a shepherdess, a beautiful girl from my childhood. I told her that I loved her like no other. I grew up and searched for her. She took another and I lost her. She had forgotten me, but I always loved her.”

A La Una Yo Naci: “At one I was born, at two I grew up, at three I took a lover, at four I married into the world, soul, life and heart. Going off to war, I throw kisses into the air. One is for my mother, the other is for you, soul, life and heart.”

Music of the Countryside (for solo flute)
Syrinx, for solo flute, was written as incidental music for a play by Claude Debussy’s friend Gabriel Mourey. The play was based on the story of Psyche, the beautiful woman who won the heart of Eros and the wrath of his mother, Aphrodite. The initial gesture, a falling line with several turns, immediately creates an aura of mystery. Debussy uses pentatonic, whole tone, Asian, and blues scales. Tonal centers (keys in which the piece operates) are either nonexistent or fluid, changing from one phrase to the next. The melodies are fragmentary, and meter and rhythm are difficult to define clearly.

Jacques Hotteterre studied in Rome, then returned to his native France to become the King’s chamber flutist. In Echos, each phrase is played twice, first at a normal volume and then pianissimo, in imitation of the effect of an echo.

Eugène Bozza was a French composer and conductor, and the director of the École Nationale de Musique in Valenciennes for more than two decades. Bozza wrote operas, concerti, and symphonies, but his best known works are for wind instruments. Image, Op. 38, uses advanced techniques such as flutter tonguing, extreme range, and multi-phonics (sounding two notes at the same time).

Of his Four Pieces for Flute and Guitar, Mr. Hand writes: “As I started to compose the music for the Maverick Concerts Centennial, two qualities came to mind. The first was that the music should embody a celebratory spirit, to honor a wonderful milestone of this historic, beautiful building and vital performing arts venue. The second was gratitude for Hervey White, whose vision the Maverick Art Colony and Concert Hall was, and for everyone who has been a part of creating and sustaining the Maverick over the past one hundred years. Therefore, the titles of the first two movements are Celebration and Dance and In Gratitude.


“For the third movement, In the Woods, I pictured a very Woodstockian scene. I imagined two friends having a walk and talk in the woods in and around the Maverick Concert Hall. For me, the most exciting aspect of composition is the unexpected twists and turns that the music calls for as it's being written. At its best, the experience feels simply like notating a musical stream of thought as it flows through the imagination. I was very surprised that this friendly conversation led to a passionate argument (not at all what I had in mind, but hey, who am I to say?). Fortunately, the two reconcile and leave the woods as they entered, good friends. 

“The party really gets going in the fourth movement, Mountain Song. As the celebration returns and the party evolves, song breaks out, revealing my musical roots in folk music. Like the artists who first came to Woodstock from New York City, I too felt drawn to the great beauty of the Catskill Mountains. For the past thirty years, Woodstock has been my home. Many thanks to Maverick Concerts for honoring me with this commission, and to Willetta Warberg Bar-Illan, for making it possible.”

Italian Love Songs
Amarilli, mia bella is from a book of madrigals published by Giulio Caccini in 1602 with the title Le Nuove Musiche (New Music). Caccini believed that his modern style had nobility, grace, and elegance that could move the soul without over-ornamentation. Amarilli has a spareness, an almost chaste quality to it, and yet it is deeply affecting.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s Cessate di Piagarmi (Oh, cease wounding me!) is addressed to the beloved who is causing all the suffering.

Selve Amiche (Beloved Forest) is an aria from the opening scene of Caldara’s 1710 opera La costanza in amor vince l'inganno (True love vanquishes all treachery). Sylvia, a love-stricken shepherdess, wanders onto the stage, her face sad, her heart heavy. She gazes at her beloved forest and her friends the plants, who shelter her heart. Her loving soul asks for some peace from her pain.

In Tosti’s elegant serenade (La Serenata), the lover sends his song flying to the window of his beloved and into her bed, to curve between her bedclothes as a kiss. She is alone, the moon is shining on her blonde hair, the window is open, and silence extends its wings to envelop her as she lies smiling in her bed. The waves are dreaming on the shore and the wind is in the trees. She smiles again. “Fly to her, O Serenade!”

The passionate morning serenade (Mattinata) of Leoncavallo has become one of the most treasured examples of
Italian song.


All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at

Program Notes © 2015 by Miriam Villchur Berg