Vista Philharmonic Orchestra: 49th Season

Bruce Hangen, Conductor & Artistic Director

Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 7:30pm

The Concert Hall at Groton Hill


Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
arr. Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)

Rapsodie espagnol
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

1. Prélude à la nuit
2. Malagueña
3. Habanera
4. Feria


Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, op. 83
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

I. Allegro non troppo
II. Allegro appassionato
III. Andante
IV. Allegretto grazioso

John Novacek, piano

Vista Philharmonic Orchestra

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

Violin I
*Alice Hallstrom, Concertmaster
Rebecca Hawkins, Associate Concertmaster
Jane Dimitry
Tony Morales
Stuart Schulman
Cindy Cummings
Shuang Yang
Anabelle Hangen
Mona Rashad
Stacey Alden
Jorge Soto
Lauren Cless
Betsy Hinkle

Violin II
*Stanley Silverman
Lynn Basila
Laura Papandrea
Caterina Yetto
John Guarino
Susan Turcotte-Gavriel
Nicki Payne
Todd Hamelin
Job Salazar
Ana Maria LaPointe

*Peter Sulski
Darcy Montaldi
Robert Kennedy
Steven Sergi
Dorcas McCall
Lauren Nelson
Jennifer Tanzer
Jing-Huey Wei
Karen McConomy

*Young Sook Lee
Ben Swartz
Shay Rudolph
Nathan Kimball
Susan Randazzo
Priscilla Chew
George Hughen
Nathaniel Lathrop

*Kevin Green
Robb Aistrup
John Wall
Joseph Higgins
Justin McCarty
Michael Simon

*Melissa Mielens
Jessica Lizak
Caitlyn Schmidt
Grace Helmke

*Andrew Price
Elizabeth England
Laura Shamu

*Hunter Bennett
Sandra Halberstadt
Bill Kirkley

*Hazel Malcolmson
Andrew Flurer
Isaac Erb
Susannah Telsey

*Michael Bellofatto
Hazel Dean Davis
Nick Auer
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
Tom Schmidt
Eric Huber
Brian Eisert

*Maria Rindenello-Spraker

*Bonnie Anderson


Librarian: Kate Weiss


by Maestro Bruce Hangen

Leopold Stokowski is known to most for his history-making appearance in the movies shaking Mickey Mouse’s hand in “Fantasia.” To others, he’s known as a long-time conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra with an amazing career there and elsewhere that lasted well into his nineties. Still others will remember him as the arranger who popularized a lot of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) by re-orchestrating many of Bach’s famous organ works for full symphony orchestra. Such is the case here with tonight’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor (ca. 1710). In its original organ version, the work must have had an amazing array of both subtle and dynamic sounds and colors. So too with Stokowski’s arrangement in which he utilizes all possibilities and combinations of instruments available to him in a symphony orchestra. The music has not been re-arranged, such as we heard in our most recent concert program with the Borromeo String Quartet (the Schoenberg concerto). Stokowski remains true to every note as if he were playing the piece himself at the organ console, but every stop he pulled was a different orchestral instrument or combination.

Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937) Rapsodie Espagnole (1908) is one of my all-time favorite works by this incredible French composer / orchestrator. Ever since I first heard the piece on the radio four or five decades ago, I have been smitten by Ravel’s stunning sounds of nearby Spain (his mother was Basque, and he was born only a few miles from the Spanish border). The first movement, Prelude to the Night, is especially evocative of a hot, summer night when not much moves and one thinks one hears only the crickets. Inserting a distant call from pairs of clarinets and bassoons is the only mood-breaker in this prelude, which dissipates as quietly as it began. Malagueña follows, in which castanets and trumpets evoke Spanish folk dancing. The third movement, Habanera, is an all-too-sensual, sophisticated slow dance in which Ravel can employ all kinds of coloristic effects, coming to fruition in the final movement, Feria (Festival). Here Ravel excels at demonstrating all the brilliantly earthy, robust, scintillating, glistening, blazing sounds he can create for a symphony orchestra.

The Second Piano Concerto (1881) by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) is quite possibly my favorite piano concerto of all time. I have lived with this piece ever since before I could even read a music score. In my youth, my mother had a rather small LP record collection including this piece in a performance by the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter. Little did I know then that Richter was as esteemed an artist as he was. All I knew was I loved the piece, and in my mother’s living room I would practice conducting to this recording…many, many times! My memories of doing that are so emblazoned in my mind that I have shied away from actually performing the piece so as not to break the mental image. But here we are now, with my friend John Novacek as soloist, finally sharing with you this fabulous music. In four movements (not the usual three for a concerto), the work is almost like a symphony with piano obligato, but a real tour de force for the soloist. Most importantly, it is a dialogue between soloist and orchestra above and beyond the normal solo-plus-accompaniment concerto fare. Equal partners we are here, and a chance for you to enjoy one of my all-time favorites!


Pianist John Novacek

Grammy-nominated pianist / composer John Novacek regularly tours the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia as a solo recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. His major American performances have been heard in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ David Geffen and Alice Tully Halls, 92nd Street Y, Columbia University’s Miller Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Symphony Space, Washington’s The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. International venues include Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Salle Gaveau and Musée du Louvre, London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, and Tokyo’s Suntory, Opera City, and Bunkamura Halls. Often heard on radio broadcasts worldwide, Mr. Novacek has appeared on NPR’s Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday, and as a featured guest composer / performer on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. He took top prizes at both the Leschetizky and Joanna Hodges international piano competitions, among many others. Mr. Novacek studied piano with Polish virtuoso Jakob Gimpel at California State University, Northridge, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Music degree from New York City’s Mannes College of Music, studying with Peter Serkin in piano and Felix Galimer and Julius Levine in chamber music. His coaches in composition included Frederick Werle, Aurelio de la Vega, and Daniel Kessner. Mr. Novacek has recorded over 35 CDs, encompassing solo and chamber music by most major composers from Bach to Bartók, as well as many contemporary and original scores. He is a member of the Piano and Collaborative Piano faculty of The Mannes School of Music at The New School’s College of Performing Arts. 


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 family
Phil and Carolyn Francisco
David Gaynor and Bernice Goldman
Bruce Hauben and Joyce Brinton/The Helen G. Hauben Foundation
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
David and Bobbie Spiegelman
Randy Steere and Paul Landry