Vista Philharmonic Orchestra: Sonic Imagery

Bruce Hangen, Artistic Director & Conductor

Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 7:30pm

The Concert Hall at Groton Hill


West Side Story: Symphonic Dances
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

Prologue (Allegro moderato)
Somewhere (Adagio)
Scherzo (Vivace e leggiero)
Mambo (Meno Presto)
Cha-cha (Andantino con grazia)
Meeting Scene (Meno mosso)
Cool Fugue (Allegretto)
Rumble (Molto allegro)
Finale (Adagio)

Lincoln Portrait
with “The Eternal Struggle” visual concerto*
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Christopher Humbert, narrator
Nicholas Bardonnay, multimedia artist


Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88, B. 163
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio
III. Allegretto grazioso — Molto vivace
IV. Allegro ma non troppo

Fourth movement with world premiere of “Heart and Home: A Mosaic” visual concerto**
Nicholas Bardonnay, multimedia artist

*Originally commissioned by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Akron Symphony Orchestra.
Photography: Archival.
Choreography: James Westwater.
Performance: Nicholas Bardonnay.

**Commissioned by the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra.
Photography: Community submitted.
Choreography & performance: Nicholas Bardonnay.

Vista Philharmonic Orchestra

Bruce Hangen, Artistic Director & Conductor
Stone Family Endowed Music Director’s Chair

Violin I
*Alice Hallstrom, Concertmaster
Tony Morales, Associate Concertmaster
Rebecca Hawkins
Allan Espinosa
Cindy Cummings
Stuart Schulman
Jane Dimitry
Anabelle Hangen
Jorge Soto
Libby Miller
Ana Maria LaPointe
Elizabeth Whitfield

Violin II
*Stanley Silverman
Lynn Basila
Nicki Payne
Susan Turcotte-Gavriel
+Angel Hernandez
Laura Papandrea
Todd Hamelin
Caterina Yetto
Job Salazar

*Amelia Hollander Ames
Darcy Montaldi
Robert Kennedy
+Dorcas McCall
Oleg Soloviev
Jennifer Tanzer
Steven Sergi
Elizabeth Stefan
Caroline Droziak

*Young Sook Lee
Shay Rudolph
Nathan Kimball
Susan Randazzo
George Hughen
Ben Swartz
Priscilla Chew
Colleen McGary Smith

*Kevin Green
Robb Aistrup
Joe Higgins
John Wall
Michael Simon
Kate Foss


*Melissa Mielens
Jessica Lizak
Caitlyn Schmidt

*Nancy Dimock
Jennifer Slowik
Grace Shryock

*Kelli O’Connor
Sandra Halberstadt
+William Kirkley
Aline Benoit

*Ken Radnofsky

*Isaac Erb
Susannah Telsey

*Michael Bellofatto
Nancy Hudgins
Nick Auer
Laura Crook Brisson

*Mary-Lynne Bohn
Mark Emery
Kyle Spraker

*Peter Cirelli
Alexei Doohovskoy
Donald Robinson

*Michael Stephan

*Karl Seyferth

*Michael Ambroszewski
Richard Kelly
Tom Schmidt
Greg Simonds
Aaron Trant

*+Maria Rindenello-Spraker

*Bonnie Anderson

Librarian: Kate Weiss

+Groton Hill Music School Faculty

PROGRAM NOTES by Maestro Bruce Hangen

With songs like, “Maria”, “Tonight”, “Cool”, “America” and “Mambo”, there’s no mistaking the thoroughly American, quasi-jazzy, instantly memorable, music of Leonard Bernstein. This particular selection of tunes from his West Side Story (1957), the “Symphonic Dances”, was expanded by Bernstein himself from its original pit-orchestra size to be fully symphonic in its language and effect.

The musical itself is the result of a high-powered collaboration among Jerome Robbins, who originated the concept; Leonard Bernstein, composer; and Stephen Sondheim (his first opportunity to write lyrics for a Broadway show). Recognized by everyone nowadays as a contemporary American take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, when it premiered it took the musical world by storm with its treatment of contemporaneous themes (gangs in New York City), use of much stronger language than was commonly accepted at the time, and music that exceeded traditional music theater norms both in terms of a more aggressive style and larger orchestra in the pit. West Side Story was an immediate hit, became an immediate standard, and remains so today. The “Symphonic Dances” presents, in one continuous movement, nine different selections, including “Somewhere”, “Mambo”, “Rumble” and “Cha-cha.”

Composed in 1942, Aaron Copland had this to say about the genesis of his “Lincoln Portrait” in a Boston Symphony 1943 program book: “The first sketches were made in February, and the portrait finished on 16 April. I worked with musical materials of my own with the exception of two songs of the period: the famous ‘Camptown Races’ which, when used by Lincoln supporters during his Presidential campaign of 1860, was sung to the words, ‘We’re bound to work all night, bound to work all day. I’ll bet my money on the Lincoln hoss…,’ and a ballad that is known today as ‘Springfield Mountain.’ In neither case is the treatment a literal one.

“The composition is roughly divided into three main sections. In the opening section I wanted to suggest something of the mysterious sense of fatality that surrounds Lincoln’s personality. Also, near the end of that section, something of his gentleness and simplicity of spirit. The quick middle section briefly sketches in the background of the times he lived. This merges into the concluding section where my sole purpose was to draw a simple but impressive frame about the words of Lincoln himself.”

Antonin Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony (1889) is one of my favorites of all time. Tuneful, uplifting, at times ruminative and ultimately inspirational, this is Dvorak (pronounced d-VOR-zhahk) at his most mature and best. Certainly there are contrasting moments throughout the piece (which in my view only help make the symphony more compelling), but in general this is a rather sunny, happy piece. In the standard four movements, I find the first movement energetic, the second reflective, the third folksy, and the fourth uplifting.

A final note: More than anything, tonight’s concert is all about our ability in this new Concert Hall to have visual media in performance with the orchestra. While the screen behind the orchestra––at least for this particular event––is not able to project images as we had originally hoped, we nevertheless have joined in this collaboration with Westwater Arts, the undisputed leader in “symphonic photochoreography.” They have performed with nearly 200 orchestras and music festivals throughout the country, and I enthusiastically welcome Nicholas Bardonnay, their artistic director, to our new facility in performing together the works of Aaron Copland and the fourth movement of Antonin Dvorak’s symphony.


Christopher Humbert, narrator

Described as beholding a “rich baritone voice,” and a “towering and alluring” stage presence, bass-baritone Christopher Humbert Jr. has proven a favorite with several audiences across the United States. Originally from Akron, Ohio, Mr. Humbert has appeared in multiple operatic and theatrical productions in his home state, including Opera Columbus, Mid-Ohio Opera, and Nightingale Opera Theatre. He has been seen in The Consul (Secret Police Agent), The Mikado (Pooh-Bah), A Little Night Music (A Little Night Music), Dido and Aeneas (Aeneas), Kiss Me, Kate (Fred Graham), and La Cenerentola (Alidoro). He has since performed with The Seagle Festival, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Annapolis Opera, Detroit Opera, and Palm Beach Opera. Mr. Humbert is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Boston Conservatory, and is a graduate of the Capital University Conservatory of Music. For the 2023-2024 season, he will be joining the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Nicholas Bardonnay, photographer and multimedia artist

Nicholas Bardonnay is a photographer, multimedia artist, and the Creative Director & CEO of Westwater Arts. Founded in 1973, Westwater Arts has created multimedia experiences for more than one million classical music lovers. To date, over 195 U.S. and international orchestras have programmed their groundbreaking art form: symphonic photochoreography. Westwater Arts’ visual repertoire is set to music by Dvořák, Mahler, Copland, Shostakovich, and 22 other renowned composers. Since joining Westwater Arts in 2009, Nicholas has photographed, produced, and performed over a dozen photochoreography pieces. Some recent projects have taken him to many of our beautiful national parks, Iceland, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. His creative process begins with either a visual concept or a musical work, then he pairs one with the other. During concerts, Nicholas uses multiple digital projectors to fill a large panoramic screen with hundreds of tightly choreographed image transitions, which he live-cues from memory. He has worked on more than 120 concerts with orchestras in cities across the U.S. as well as Scotland, England, Singapore, Canada, Poland,and Germany. When Nicholas is not traveling for concerts or photographing new “visual concertos,” you can usually find him on the road in his vintage Airstream or planning his next big bike adventure.


For this special concert with the Vista Philharmonic, Nicholas is presenting The Eternal Struggle and a new community sourced piece, Heart and Home: A Mosaic. The Eternal Struggle is a glimpse into the lives of ordinary Americans—and President Lincoln—during the Civil War. Tonight, Nicholas will be choreographing 100s of historical images to the Vista Phil’s performance of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. Originally co-commissioned by the Akron Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic, The Eternal Struggle was arranged by Westwater Arts founder James Westwater. It has been performed for audiences across the U.S. — North and South, Democrat and Republican — accompanied by narrators ranging from Tom Brokaw and Maya Angelou to community leaders of all stripes.

Commissioned by the Vista Philharmonic to commemorate the inaugural season of Groton Hill Music Center, Heart and Home: A Mosaic was created entirely from images submitted by local amateur and professional photographers who have shared their visions of the natural beauty, history, people, traditions, lifestyles, and special qualities that make Groton and our region a wonderful place to live and create. Nicholas curated the submissions and choreographed the final visual selections to the last movement of Dvořák’s lovely Symphony No. 8. He feels so fortunate to participate in this special project—and season!—with the Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Vista Phil while learning so much about the area through the talented and insightful eyes of those who call it home.

Learn more about Nicholas and his collaborative art form at WestwaterArts.com.


Fred and Joan Reynolds and family

Mark and Jeanne Hubelbank



Camilla Blackman
Bruce and Sue Bonner
Peter and Karen Burk
Barbara and John Chickosky
Priscilla Endicott
Matt and Judy Fichtenbaum and family
Phil and Carolyn Francisco
David Gaynor and Bernice Goldman
Mary Jennings and Jim Simko
Simon Jones and Richard Gioiosa
Bob and Sue Lotz
Carole and Art Prest
Pam and Griff Resor
The Riggert Family
Phil and Dorothy Robbins
Shepherd’s of Townsend
David and Bobbie Spiegelman
Randy Steere and Paul Landry