Stephen Tong, Music Director
Randy Ryan, Piano
Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1
i. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso
ii. Andantino semplice
iii. Allegro con fuoco
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4
i. Allegro non troppo
ii. Andante moderato
iv. Allegro energico e passionato
STEPHEN TONG, Music Director
Stephen Tong is a man of many gifts. Fatherless at the age of 3, he was born with extraordinary sensitivity to all forms of art including music, painting, architecture, and sculpture. When Stephen was only 17 years old, he started to conduct works of oratorios and sacred music.
In 1985, Stephen led a 7-city concert rallies for the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, well attended by 27,000 people. He then founded Jakarta Oratorio Society in 1986, which regularly performs concerts in Jakarta. Occasionally Stephen would lead the choir in their tour to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
In December 2008, Stephen took Jakarta by storm when 9,000 people attended the 2-performances of Handel's Messiah choruses. Over 200 performers of Jakarta Oratorio Society and orchestra performed under his baton. This marked the largest audience in the history of classical music performance in Indonesia.
Aula Simfonia Jakarta is another exhibit of Stephen's architectural achievement, with Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra as the newly formed and appointed orchestra-in-residence and Jakarta Oratorio Society as the choir-in-residence, Stephen inaugurated all these in October 2009 with a series of concerts to celebrate. Alongside with Jahja Ling, world-renowned Indonesian born conductor, Stephen conducted the works of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Haydn. Entering its 10th season, Aula Simfonia Jakarta has hosted over 200 performances of classical concerts.
Stephen has frequently conduct symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (all 9 symphonies), Brahms, and Dvorak; concertos for piano, cello, violin; overtures, incidental music, and sacred oratorios such as Haydn Creation, Mendelssohn Lobgesang, Mendelssohn Elijah, and Handel Messiah.
Stephen wanted to introduce and educate classical music to the people of Indonesia by bringing both Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra and Jakarta Oratorio Society in 2017. This Grand Concert Tour continued its journey in 2018, reaching Singapore with well received and sold out concert in Esplanade. Then in July 2019, the touring groups expanded its musical journey to Wei Wu Ying (Kaohsiung), National Concert Hall (Taipei), and Hong Kong. Jakarta as the capital of Indonesia was not left out, for its people witnessed one of the biggest crowds for classical music event in Konser Akbar Monas, attracting 23,000 people in attendance of different backgrounds, race, religion, and age.
Stephen is the Artistic Director of Aula Simfonia Jakarta, Music Director of Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, and Jakarta Oratorio Society.
RANDY RYAN, Piano
Acclaimed as one of the most promising young pianists in his home country of Indonesia, Randy Ryan has performed frequently as a chamber musician and as a soloist around the world. He made his concerto debut at the age of 10 performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major k.414 with the Jakarta Concert Orchestra. Ever since then, he has performed with many orchestras, such as the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, Yayasan Musik Jakarta Orchestra, and Jakarta Sinfonietta. Recently, he has been featured in performances in United States, Italy, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, and various cities in Indonesia.
An avid chamber musician, he performed Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in the Juilliard Chamber Festival 2014. Most recently he participated in the Juilliard Chamber Festival 2017, performing Mieczylaw Weinberg’s Piano Quintet after coaching by the world-renowned cellist Joel Krosnick. He was one of six participants at Piano Academy Eppan, Italy under the guidance of Pavel Gillilov. He also received an opportunity to visit Paris and Poland to give concerts and to study with the legendary pianist Paul Badura-Skoda, who praised Randy for his “ poetic nature and a warm touch from such one of the most promising young artist.”
He is a graduate of the Juilliard School where he studied with Hung-Kuan Chen and Matti Raekallio. Randy completed his masters of music degree in piano performance and pedagogy at the Peabody Conservatory of Music with a full scholarship, studying with the legendary pianist and teacher Leon Fleisher. Since his passing in August 2020, Randy has completed his graduate performance diploma in 2021 under the tutelage of prof. Yong-Hi Moon
PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 IN B-FLAT MINOR, OP. 23
Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
1840 | May 7 – 1893 | November 6
Duration approximately 35 minutes
Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto had its premiere performance in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 25, 1875 under the baton of German pianist and conductor, Hans von Bülow. Bülow loved it, and declared that the concerto “displays such brilliance, and is such a remarkable achievement among your musical works, that you have without doubt enriched the world of music as never before. There is such unsurpassed originality, such nobility, such strength, and there are so many arresting moments throughout this unique conception; there is such a maturity of form, such style—its design and execution, with such consonant harmonies, that I could weary you by listing all the memorable moments which caused me to thank the author—not to mention the pleasure from performing it all. In a word, this true gem shall earn you the gratitude of all pianists.”
The first theme of the first movement is a gay, skipping melody that the composer claims to have heard from a blind Ukrainian street beggar; it is tossed around at length before a second theme enters the scene. The second theme is a sweet-sounding contrast to the first theme, it is a melancholy theme that first appears in the clarinets. Part three of the first movement brings a breath-taking cadenza by the solo pianist. It is this crashing cadenza that ratifies the piano soloist's position as the " hero of the hour." It is one of the cadenzas throughout the work which answers orchestral "comments" in a dueling fashion.
The slow second movement begins with a delicate melody for solo flute. It is a poignant Tchaikovskyan melody with a gently rocking accompaniment familiar from his earlier “Romeo and Juliet”. A new theme by oboe becomes a rapid scherzo based on a French song, " il faux s'amuser, danser et rire" (dance and laugh are necessary). After this second theme is worked over with recurring ideas, the first part of the movement is repeated in varied, abbreviated form.
Paralleling the first movement, the third movement begins with a lively melody based on another Ukrainian folksong. The Ukrainian inspiration may stem from a visit Tchaikovsky made to Kiev while composing the concerto, but he may also have heard these folksongs during one of his many summertime visits to his sister’s family in modern-day Ukraine. This is followed by a new lyrical theme that sweeps in above the piano line, and the piano responds in kind. Combinations and developments of the movement's themes provide the bulk of the movement; make the music builds to a huge climax and the concerto's finale is a free-for-all blasting of musical fireworks.
SYMPHONY NO. 4 IN E MINOR, OP. 98
1833 | May 7 – 1897 | April 3
Duration approximately 43 minutes
Brahms composed the Fourth Symphony during the summers of 1884–85 in Mürzzuschlag, his summer retreat in the mountains southwest of Vienna. In September 1885, Brahms wrote to Hans von Bülow, conductor of the Meiningen Orchestra, expressing his hope that von Bülow would take on the new symphony. Brahms also admitted to doubt the work’s appeal, “I’m really afraid it [the Fourth Symphony] tastes like the climate here. The cherries don’t ripen in these parts; you wouldn’t eat them!” Despite Brahms’ concerns, von Bülow warmed to the new symphony and wrote to him after his first rehearsal, “No. 4 gigantic, altogether a law unto itself, quite new, steely individuality. Exudes unparalleled energy from first note to last.”
The opening movement was tragedy on an epic scale. It begins with a simple melody based on falling thirds. Everything that follows growns from this hauntingly beautiful theme, which seems to breathe, or perhaps to ebb and flow like the sea. The ever evolving progress of the theme is soon interrupted by a fanfare-like motif in the woodwinds. The symphony is full of these fanfare-motifs, which recall a romantic era of heroic knights errant. The opening melody then reappears, but leads to a more developmental section. Intense passages full of struggle alternate with quiet, mysterious ones as the main themes interact. Then the main theme reappears again, but it is disguised at first, lengthened and interrupted by the strange, rustling harmonies we heard before, creating a sense of musical déjà vu. After a reprise of the other themes, the heroic fanfares return, but now lead to a harrowing storm. The opening theme returns in a distorted form as the movement rushes to its end.
After the powerful conclusion of the first movement, Brahms introduces the second movement with a forceful statement by two horns, followed by a ravishing passage in which all the strings play delicate pizzicato chords supporting a sustained melody in the winds. The opening horn call soon becomes a reflective melody in the woodwinds accompanied by pizzicato strings. After a tender, contrasting melody appears in the violins, a more forceful motif morphs into a gorgeous melody in the cellos. Then the main melody reappears in the violas followed by the horns with increasing intensity, climaxing in a hammering passage for full orchestra based on the forceful motif. The consoling beautiful melody from cello this time played by the violins. The movement ends with a richly orchestrated version of the horn call with strange harmonies that inspire a sense of wonder.
The third movement overflows with high spirits and raw energy, with the piccolo and triangle added to the performing forces for extra sizzle. Brass fanfares alternate with softer, more playful episodes. A mischievous sense of humor and adventure prevails, and the music is full of surprise. Brahms’ friend and first biographer, Max Kalbeck, heard the sounds of a “public festival” in this music, and sensed a “satirical purpose under the heavily applied good humor,” referring to “the serious face behind the carnival mask that it wears on its surface.” He linked the movement to a quote by Goethe: “the greatest pleasure is most tempting only when it presses close to danger and enjoys the pleasantly fearful sweet sensations in its vicinity.”
The final movement of the Fourth Symphony is the best-known such instance, and it is usually characterized as a
passacaglia, with reference to Bach. The melody line of the chorale was adapted from the bass line of a cantata by
Bach that Brahms discovered while helping to edit Bach’s works. The words from Bach’s original cantata were “All my
days which pass in suffering God ends at last in joy.” The theme is repeated some 30 times, but the musical material is
organized (texturally, dynamically, and above all emotionally) into a sonata-like structure. A renewed energy marks the
beginning of a kind of development, culminating in three variations that recall the opening ones. The concluding pages
of the Symphony are relentlessly charged with defiance and bristling with slashing intensity.
Written by Steffanie Surya