Vista Philharmonic Orchestra: Heart & Solstice

Bruce Hangen, Artistic Director & Conductor

Saturday, June 17, 2023 at 7:30pm

The Concert Hall at Groton Hill


Festive Overture, Op. 96
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
II. Allegretto
III. Presto – Assai meno presto (trio)
IV. Allegro con brio


Taiko Drum Solo
Kaoru Watanabe, Taiko drum

Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
III. Adagio

Shinobue (2023)
Kaoru Watanabe, flute and drum

Zeenat Potia, Mindfulness Teacher

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)

Vista Philharmonic Orchestra

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

Violin I
*Alice Hallstrom, Concertmaster
Mona Rashad, Associate Concertmaster
Anabelle Hangen
Anthony Morales
Jane Dimitry
Allan Espinosa
Stuart Schulman
Cynthia Cummings
Rebecca Hawkins
Stacy Alden
Paola Caballero
Betsy Hinkle
Grace Wodarcyk

Violin II
*Stanley Silverman
Todd Hamelin
Laura Papandrea
Caterina Yetto
+Angel Hernandez
John Guarino
Susan Turcotte-Gavriel
Job Salazar
Marielisa Alvarez
Anita Sulski

*Peter Sulski
Amelia Hollander Ames
Darcy Montaldi
Steven Sergi
Robert Kennedy
Lauren Nelson
Jing-Huey Wei
Jennifer Tanzer
+Dorcas McCall

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

*Kevin Green
Michael Simon
John Wall
Justin McCarty
Mark Henry

*Jessica Lizak
Caitlyn Schmidt
Brendan Ryan

*Nancy Dimock
Jennifer Slowik
Andrew van der Paardt

*Hunter Bennett
Sandra Halberstadt
+William Kirkley

*Stephanie Busby
Isaac Erb
Susannah Telsey

*Michael Bellofatto
Nancy Hudgins
Marina Krickler
Laura Crook Brisson

*Mary-Lynne Bohn
Mark Emery
Kyle Spraker

*Peter Cirelli
Alexei Doohovskoy
Donald Robinson

*Michael Stephan

*Karl Seyferth

*Michael Ambroszewski
Aaron Trant
Greg Simonds
Bob Schulz

Librarian: Kate Weiss

+Groton Hill Music School Faculty

PROGRAM NOTES by Maestro Bruce Hangen

You can thank Paul Winter of the Paul Winter Consort for tonight’s program. I’ve performed multiple concerts with Paul over the years, including bringing him to the Boston Pops, and always have been struck by his gentility, genuineness and sincerity. He elevates listenable music to ever higher levels of connectivity through messages of the environment, spirituality, and the human condition. Since 1980 Paul has performed a “Winter Solstice” concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, a performance on the shortest day of the year that symbolically celebrates the gradual return of the sun.

For almost as many years, I have dreamed of doing the opposite: performing a “Summer Solstice” concert program that begins brightly and festively but eventually ends in quietude, thoughtfulness and, yes, mindfulness. Besides, gathering an audience mid-June for a summer solstice orchestra would be a much greater opportunity than attempting to replicate Paul Winter mid-December.  

The weather would be warm, and given the odd scheduling that our post-pandemic return allowed (a January-June season), we have the extraordinary ability to actually schedule a program close to the actual summer solstice, June 21. I find it interesting that my muse in this instance, Paul Winter, is also doing a summer solstice concert today, but his began at 4:30 a.m.!

Given the overriding solstice theme, our concert program will not resemble a “normal” symphony concert in format, especially after intermission. We begin up tempo, bright, festive, happy, and dancing with the music of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture (1954) which is both fanfare-ish and celebratory. I programmed it tonight simply as a curtain-raiser, an excitable opening to a concert which will finish as anything but. Also on the first half of the concert is Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (1812). The important composer Richard Wagner (born 1813) labeled this symphony “the apotheosis of the dance,” and it’s so easy to hear why. Conductor Stéphane Denève has said that Beethoven’s “Seventh Symphony unites people with the idea of dance. We dance, we connect, we share a space. The feeling is of going to a rock concert together—being close to each other, sharing energy.” Indeed, this is the dance of life itself, represented in four separate movements (dance rhythms), each of which has its own tempo and flavor.

After intermission, we take an almost total about-face musically. Guest artist Kaoru Watanabe will play a call to attention with his solo on the taiko drum. No orchestra, no “western” music, only the ancient Japanese drum to bring our attention to ourselves as we anticipate the shortening days of future months. Without applause, the orchestra takes up the melancholic, reflective music of Rachmaninoff, whose slow movement from his Second Symphony (1907) arguably is one of the most memorable tunes the composer ever wrote, and provides a few minutes for you to bring the thoughts generated by the taiko drum into contemporary, symphonic context and intellectual pause. Kaoru Watanabe now returns to the stage, including musicians of the Vista Philharmonic, to perform both taiko and shinobue flute in a work of his own, Shinobue (2023). Hopefully this will bring you into a more personal world of experience, provided by the calm and thoughtful music. At this point, meditator Zeenat Potia will take the stage and share with us the meaning of the summer solstice as she, a mindfulness meditation teacher, understands it. Finally, the strings of the Vista Philharmonic perform Arvo Pärt’s Fratres (“Brothers,” 1977) after which I ask you to leave in peace and silence.

As the music gently fades, like the setting sun sinking below the horizon, we are reminded of the impermanence of all things. The solstice’s fleeting embrace reminds us to appreciate each passing moment, for in its transient beauty lies the essence of existence itself. Let us immerse ourselves in the symphony of the summer solstice, attuning our hearts to the melodies of nature and the harmony of the cosmos. May the music guide us towards a deeper understanding of ourselves, the interconnectedness of all beings, and the eternal rhythms that permeate our existence.


Kaoru Watanabe, drum and flute soloist

Composer and musician Kaoru Watanabe grounds his performance in traditional Japanese music while inhabiting a startling combination of musical worlds. He is renowned for his ability to collaborate with a diverse array of visionary international artists: Jason Moran, Yo-Yo Ma and Silkroad, Spanish flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena, visual artists Simone Leigh and Alyson Shotz, calligrapher Koji Kakinuma, Japanese National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, vocalists Alicia Hall Moran and Imani Uzuri, tap dancers Tamango and Kazunori Kumagai, Galician bagpiper Carlos Nuñez, So Percussion, Semba Kiyohiko, Reigakusha, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Adam Rudolph and Go:Organic Orchestra, the Aizuri and Parker String Quartets, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. In 2018, Watanabe debuted as an orchestral soloist and composer with the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House. He is an advisor, composer and featured musician on the Oscar-nominated score of Wes Anderson’s film Isle of Dogs and was a guest artist on the Silkroad’s Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home. Born to Japanese parents who were both members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Watanabe started playing Western Classical music at an early age, then graduated from the Manhattan School of Music as a jazz flute and saxophonist, followed by a decade in Japan performing with and eventually directing the internationally acclaimed Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble Kodo. Watanabe returned to New York City to continue developing his ever-evolving musical voice, specializing on transverse bamboo flutes such as the shinobue, noh kan and ryuteki and various Japanese percussion. He has performed his compositions at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, and Kabukiza, and in all 47 prefectures in Japan. Watanabe continues to perform regularly across the North, Central and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. As a passionate educator, he has taught at such prestigious institutions as Princeton and Wesleyan University and the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Zeenat Potia, Mindfulness Teacher

Zeenat Potia teaches meditation in Buddhist and secular spaces. She has over 15 years of training, with extensive silent retreat experience in the early Buddhist tradition and advanced trauma-sensitive mindfulness. Zeenat incorporates her life experience — as a South Asian immigrant, as a mother, and as a strategic communications professional in higher education, non-profit, and publishing for over 20 years — into her teaching. Her current work integrates mindfulness, 12-step recovery, and Internal Family Systems as a way to heal intergenerational trauma and transform structures of internal and external oppression. She is committed to sharing mindfulness with underserved and underrepresented populations. Zeenat has taught at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center since 2014, as well as teaching meditation in organizations and universities throughout the Boston area. Learn more at: www.zeenatpotia.com.




Fred and Joan Reynolds and family

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
Bruce Hauben and Joyce Brinton/The Helen G. Hauben Foundation
Mark and Jeanne Hubelbank
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