Rebecca Tong, Conductor
Stephanie Onggowinoto, Piano
Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra
SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concerto No. 2
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2
ii. Tempo andante, ma rubato
iv. Finale: Allegro moderato
REBECCA TONG, Conductor
Rebecca is Resident Conductor of Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra and is Artistic Director and Music Director of Ensemble Kontemporer, Jakarta (her home city). Rebecca recently completed her two-year tenure as Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music, and previously studied at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. During her studies, Rebecca worked extensively in assisting the BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, Rebecca frequently collaborates with the Hallé Orchestra and Manchester Camerata.
The 20/21 season features debuts with Orchestre de Paris, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie and Paris Mozart Orchestra.
Rebecca participates in mentorships and assistantships under Tugan Sokhiev, Pablo Heras-Casado, Marin Alsop, Sir Mark Elder, Case Scaglione and Leon Fleischer, among many others.
Rebecca recently awarded First Prize, French Concert Halls & Orchestras Prize and the ARTE Prize at the inaugural La Maestra Competition 2020
STEPHANIE ONGGOWINOTO, Piano
Praised for her “crystal-clear, luminous sound” and “sensitive playing”, Indonesian pianist Stephanie Onggowinoto has performed throughout Europe, Asia and the United States as a solo artist and chamber musician. She made her concerto debut at the age of 11 and has since then appeared as a soloist with many leading Indonesian orchestras, including Jakarta Concert Orchestra, Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, Jakarta Sinfonietta, Jakarta City Philharmonic, Surabaya Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Indonesia, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and Ananda Sukarlan Orchestra.
Stephanie’s competition successes include prizes at the Joan Chissell Schumann Piano Competition at the RCM, the prestigious Ettlingen International Piano Competition in Germany, the Appelbe Piano Prize in the UK, Asean International Chopin Competition in Malaysia, Asia International Piano Festival in Korea, Asean International Concerto Competition and Wibi Soerjadi Competition in Indonesia. She was also on the top-five list at the 12th International Mozart Competition in Salzburg, where she performed with the Salzburg Chamber Soloists.
Highlights of the 18/19 season included engagements with Jakarta City Philharmonic/Budi Utomo Prabowo at Tokyo Opera City Hall as part of 2019 Asia Orchestra Week and Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra/Rebecca Tong at Aula Simfonia Jakarta. A recipient of the first Adam Gyorgy Award, Stephanie performed her New York debut at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2017, presented by the Adam Gyorgy Foundation.
Stephanie earned her Artist Diploma in Performance from the Royal College of Music in London as an Alida Johnson Award Holder. She received her Master of Music in Performance with Distinction and Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from the RCM, having studied with Leon McCawley and Norma Fisher. Stephanie’s studies were generously supported by the Neville Wathen and Frederick Cox Scholarship. Stephanie also had the privilege to have studied under Christopher Elton (London), Iswargia Sudarno, Suwarni Hanitio, Yenny Djafar and Johannes Nugroho, and to have worked in masterclasses with esteemed artists, such as the late Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Robert Levin, Dmitri Alexeev and Jahja Ling.
Stephanie earned her Artist Diploma in Performance from the Royal College of Music in London as an Alida Johnson Award Holder.
PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2, OP. 102
1906 | September 25 – 1975 | August 9
Duration approximately 23 minutes
This piano concerto was written 1957 as a birthday gift for his 19-year-old son, Maxim, who premiered the piece during his graduation at the Moscow Conservatory. According to Dmitri Shostakovich himself in the letter to his friend, Edison Denisov, this work has ‘no redeeming artistic merits’. And unlike some remarks often attributed to him, this one is verifiable. Furthermore the piece fits snugly into a well established subgenre of Soviet music, the so-called ‘Youth’ concerto, targeted specifically at young players in the country’s massively pedagogic system.
The work is cast in a typical three-movement concerto form and orchestrated for a relatively small orchestra. The orchestra’s composition lends clarity and lightness of touch to the work, which is by turns playful, light-hearted, graceful, and undeniably charming.
The first movement has a lively quick-march tune played by the woodwind, then the piano enters lightly and unassumingly giving the beginning of the concerto an air of chamber music. The soloist cannot resist adding an idea that inevitably reminds British listeners of the sea-shanty, ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’. A more thoughtful piano theme fades away with melancholy hints of the original march-like rhythms. The piano part contains much of the melodic material, often doubled at the octave in both hands. This is certainly not a heavy-handed, thickly Romantic texture.
The second movement is lyrical slow movement that relies heavily on the string section, a touching gift from father to son. Beginning with a gorgeous string chorale that lasts nearly a quarter of the movement, the piano’s entrance is a moment of startling beauty. Shostakovich’s childlike simplicity is almost always accompanied by shades of something else, often a wistful sense of distance or memory. This bittersweet music, which moves from minor to major and back again, is a perfect contrast to the happily churning outer movements, and it gives the work a beautiful dramatic center.
Without a break between second and third movements, the piano ushers the piece into the dance-like finale abruptly and surprisingly. This music is reminiscent of the frenetic, richly-wrought dance music in many of Shostakovich’s other pieces. There is also an inside joke encoded in this last movement that only pianists will appreciate. Some of the scalar material is very similar to the feared (and often loathed) Hanon piano exercises with which pianists are very familiar. The finale brings the changes on some ideas, throwing in some wickedly abrupt modulations on the way and cannily holding back the side drum for extra rhythmic points the later stages. This was, after all, a piece that was premiered by, and at the graduation of, Shostakovich’s son Maxim.
SYMPHONY NO. 2 IN D MAJOR, OP. 43
1865 | December 8 – 1957 | September 20
Duration approximately 43 minutes
As the 20th century was born, Finland found herself in a desperate battle for survival. In the closing years of the nineteenth century, Finns were fired with excitement over homegrown culture—collecting traditional music and dance, delving into ancient Finnish legends, and returning to use the Finnish language.
In the fall of 1900, Jean Sibelius and his family departed Finland for Italy, stopping first in Berlin. In February 1901, they finally reached their destination—the village of Rapallo, located just south of Venice. While in Venice, Sibelius began working on his Symphony No. 2.
Sibelius conducted the premiere of his Second Symphony in Helsinki on March 8, 1902. It was a rousing success, and Sibelius repeated the program on March 10, 14 and 16, each time to a capacity audience. This was a particularly tumultuous period, a time when Finland was under the grip of Russian domination. Patriotic emotions were at a fever pitch.
About his symphonic method Sibelius famously wrote: “It is as though the Almighty had thrown the pieces of a mosaic down from the floor of heaven and told me to put them together.” The opening movement (Allegretto) demonstrates this method, as Sibelius first presents small, seemingly unrelated chunks of melodic ideas — fragments of his mosaic. Only as they are gradually assembled do we begin to see a picture.
The slow-tempo second movement (Andante, ma rubato) incorporates music Sibelius first associated with an encounter between Don Juan and Death. Robert Kajanus interpreted, “The Andante strikes one as the most broken-hearted protest against all the injustice that threatens at the present time to deprive the sun of its light and our flowers of their scent.”
The third movement is a quicksilver scherzo (Vivacissimo) and pastoral trio. It opens with scurrying energy, then
relaxes for the solo oboe to sing one of Sibelius’s most fetching lyrical melodies. Scherzo and trio are both repeated,
the latter gradually forming a bridge to the bold, uplifting finale. And from there the fourth movement unfolds slowly,
continuously, and with increasing power and majesty. It rises and soars in ways denied the earlier movements, and
that is Sibelius’s way of saying heaven’s floor is visible at last. The music reestablishes its sense of optimism, leading
to a triumphant coda.
Written by Steffanie Surya