Masterworks V: Fiesta

Masterworks V: Fiesta

Ravel Daphnis et Chloé

World Première Co-commission by Roydon Tse with Dalí Quartet


April 4 & 5 at Maryland Hall 


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Music Program

Roydon Tse World Premiere (ASO/GLFCAM* Co-commission)

Dalí Quartet, string quartet

Sonia Morales-Matos Fiesta No. 2

Dalí Quartet, string quartet

Maurice Ravel Daphnis et Chloé, Suites No. 1 & 2

* Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music


About the Music

Roydon Tse World Premiere (ASO/GLFCAM* Co-commission) Dalí Quartet, string quartet

* Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music

Composed: 2023-2024

Instrumentation: Solo string quartet, 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling English horn), 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 1 timpani, 3 percussionists, piano, celeste, and strings

The world première of Roydon Tse’s composition will be the third instance of a multi-year co-commissioning project with the ASO’s longtime collaborator Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music (GFLCAM). The co-commissioning project is entitled “Embracing 21st Century Voices.” The partnership supports new symphonic works composed by alums of GLFCAM core programs. ASO Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo and GLFCAM founder Gabriela Frank have enjoyed a long and productive artistic relationship. Ms. Frank previously served as ASO’s Composer-in-Residence and wrote two orchestral works dedicated to the ASO, one of which was to celebrate the ASO’s 50th anniversary in 2012.

Novo and Frank formalized the multi-year “Embracing 21st Century Voices” partnership after the successful co-commission and premiere of Resonance | Rush | Ride by GLFCAM alum Jessica Hunt for ASO’s 60th anniversary in May 2022. The agreement stipulates commitment to award a $20,000 co-commission fee plus copy funds each year to a mutually agreed upon composer. 

In addition to the award and prior to each premiere, GLFCAM composers receive an orchestral reading of their work in progress, feedback from Maestro Novo, and mentorship from Ms. Frank. The ASO will perform the premiere of each new work at a Masterworks concert during consecutive seasons, and the compositions are to be recorded for later release on the London-based Toccata label. 

Dr. Royden Tse

Dr. Roydon Tse (b.1991) is an award-winning Chinese-Canadian composer and educator.  He is passionate about communicating to audiences from all backgrounds and his works for orchestra, chamber, and vocal forces are inspired by the fusion of Eastern and Western elements, the visual arts, and the environment. 

Prior collaborators include the Brussels Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hamilton Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Suzhou Symphony, Niagara Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Bach Choir, City Opera Vancouver; the Interro, Bozzini, Cecilia, and Verona Quartets; and members of the Paris Opera and La Scala Orchestras, among others.

Tse  has won several awards, including seven SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, the Washington International Composition Prize, CMC Prairies Emerging Composer Prize, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award, and the Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize.  He was named to CBC music’s top “30 under 30” Canadian Classical Musicians list in 2017 and received the Weinzweig Award from the University of Toronto for exceptional potential in composition. Additionally, he has received support for commissioning from the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, SOCAN Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.

A passionate educator, Tse has taught composition to students of all levels at the University of Toronto and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. As a musical ambassador in the community, he has worked with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Community Music Schools of Toronto, BC’s Health Arts Society and the Canadian Opera Company to bring music to youth. A pianist by trade, his complete piano music is featured in the 2022 revised edition of the RCM Piano Syllabus.

Dalí Quartet

Dr. Tse’s composition will be performed with the Dalí Quartet. The Dalí Quartet is acclaimed for bringing Latin American string quartet repertoire to an equal standing alongside the Classical and Romantic canon.  The Dalí Quartet is Chamber Music America’s 2024 Ensemble of the Year, recipient of the 2023 ACMP Foundation’s Susan McIntosh Lloyd Award for Excellence and Diversity in Chamber Music, 2021 recipient of Chamber Music America’s Guarneri String Quartet Residency, funded by the Sewell Family Foundation, and the 2021 Silver Medal at the inaugural Piazzolla Music Competition. The Quartet is also the 2019 recipient of the Atlanta Symphony’s esteemed Aspire Award for accomplished African American and Latino Musicians. The quartet’s latest CD is Voces Latinas, and is now available on Centaur Records.


Sonia Morales-Matos  Fiesta No. 2 for string quartet, string orchestra, and percussion, with Dalì Quartet

Composed: Commissioned by the Dalí Quartet

Premiered: March 2023, Orchestra Lumos, Stamford, Connecticut

Length: c. 10 minutes

Instrumentation: Solo string quartet, congas, guiro, bongo bell, snare drum, cha cha bell, and strings

What to Listen for: The Dalì Quartet’s string instruments replicate the rhythm, percussion, and sound of mambo and salsa, as common to modern music videos and dance halls as to Afro-Cuban casinos and nightclubs, where it was first conceived in the 1940s.

Sonia Ivette Morales-Matos (b. 1961) is a Puerto Rican composer, performer, and educator who belongs to a family of distinguished musicians. Her compositions explore a wide variety of styles and genres such as chamber music, the concerto, choral music, Latin Jazz, pop, sacred and/or contemporary Christian, and Latin or Tropical music.  She is the sister of Adriana Linares, violist with Dalì Quintet. Ms. Morales-Matos holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where she studied composition and jazz, and a Masters in Music degree in both Composition and Jazz Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. She is the 2016 recipient of the Dr. Herman Hudson Alumnus Award presented by the African American Arts Institute of Indiana University for her excellence as an educator, performer, and composer. She is the June 2019 recipient of recognitions from the City of Santa Ana, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, and the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana, CA, for her participation in the “Latino Masters Concert” as a composer, performer, and educator, and for her contribution to the community of the City of Santa Ana, California, USA. 

About the Music

Fiesta No. 2 for string quartet, string orchestra, and percussion features a high-energy and festive sound that places popular dance rhythms of Latin America in a classical setting. The composer invites the listener to be immersed in Latin American sounds that are increasingly common to American music for film, commercials and Broadway. 

The Puerto Rican plena, a dance genre familiar to the worldwide Puerto Rican community, opens and closes the composition. The symbolic inclusion of the people who dance and sing to the plena are musically represented with the counterpoint in the quartet’s part. The composition also features a section of mambo, or salsa. During this section, the quartet’s violinists are challenged to speak to each other musically in a very intricate, rhythmic exchange that imitates some of the improvisational skills required from the performers of the genre. The mambo/salsa section is followed by a Cuban rumba, where the quartet’s cello plays a legato and melodic line accompanied, in some instances, by the viola. The rumba is followed by a hint of the romantic and international bolero, the famous Argentinian tango, and the Caribbean but European influenced danza. In Fiesta No. 2, the composer invites the audience to enter a fantastic place where everybody gathers in a special party or fiesta, to celebrate in unity, peace, and hope, despite their differences; a high energy party, where everybody is accepted, and where we can celebrate each other as friends. 


Maurice Ravel Daphnis et Chloé, Suites No. 1 & 2

Composed: 1909-1912

Premiered: June 8, 1912 Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

Dedication:  Sergei Diaghilev

Length: c. 28 minutes

Instrumentation: 3 flutes (2nd and 3rd doubling piccolo), 1 alto flute, 2 oboes, 1 English horn, 2 clarinets, 1 E-flat clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbal, suspended cymbal, snare drum, military drum, triangle, tambourine, castanets, tam-tam, glockenspiel, keyed glockenspiel, crotales, wind machine, 2 harps, celeste, and strings

Tune in to the Music: Ravel Daphnis and Chloe, Suite 2 with Frankfurt Radio Symphony, conducted by Alain Altinoglu

What to Listen For: Listen for the lushness of sound, the exotic element of the music and sensuality. Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo says, “This piece is very sexy. It’s a love story that presents an ideal world and ideal sounds, painting a world of sounds that is so incredibly attractive.” Listen to how Ravel uses the orchestra and the different instruments to create sumptuous colors and moods. The 2nd Suite opens with one of the most famous sunrises in all of music.

Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937) was considered the greatest living French composer during the heights of his career in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in the Basque town of Ciboure, near Biarritz, Ravel’s musical style was broadly classical, while mainly rooted in many contemporary styles. He liked to experiment with musical form and was one of the first composers to appreciate the potential of recording his work.  Ravel was particularly devoted to his mother, Maria; her Basque-Spanish heritage strongly influenced his life and music. 

Born to a music-loving family, Ravel attended France’s premier music college, the Paris Conservatoire. After leaving the conservatoire, Ravel made his musical career as a composer, and his works were often defined by elements of modernism, baroque, neoclassicism, and jazz. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in one of his best-known works, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. Renowned for his abilities in orchestration, Ravel made some orchestral arrangements of other composers’ piano music, of which his 1922 version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is the best known.

A slow and painstaking worker, Ravel composed fewer pieces than many of his contemporaries. Among his works to enter the repertoire are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas and eight song cycles; he wrote no symphonies or church music. Many of his works exist in two versions: first, a piano score and later an orchestration. Some of his piano music, such as Gaspard de la nuit (1908), is exceptionally difficult to play, and his complex orchestral works such as Daphnis et Chloé (1912) require skilful balance in performance. Artistic Director José-Luis Novo, who has included pieces from Ravel in previous Masterworks, says Daphnis et Chloe “is a great piece to end the season. Ravel was the master of writing symphony climaxes, he knew them better than anyone. Ravel was a Pisces [as is José-Luis], and his composition is one the musicians are most excited to play.” 

In October 1932, Ravel suffered a blow to the head in a taxi accident. The injury was not thought serious at the time. Still, in a study for the British Medical Journal in 1988, neurologist R. A. Henson concluded that it may have exacerbated an existing cerebral condition. As early as 1927, close friends were concerned about Ravel’s growing absent-mindedness, and within a year of the accident, he started to experience symptoms suggesting aphasia. Though no longer able to write music or perform, Ravel remained physically and socially active until his last months. He preserved most or all his auditory imagery and could still hear music in his head.

About the Music: 

The years 1908-1912 were heady ones for musical composers. Richard Strauss worked on Der Rosenkavalier, Igor Stravinsky on The Firebird, Schoenberg was “shaking up the establishment” with Five Pieces for Orchestra, Puccini finished The Girl of the Golden West, and Jean Sibelius was writing his Fourth Symphony. Musical creativity was alive, and it influenced every factor of society.

In 1909, the Russian Ballet swept into Paris, wowing French audiences with thrilling choreography and artful sets. In 1910, Sergei Diaghilev, an art critic and founder of Ballet Russes, asked Ravel, then an up-and-coming talent, to write a ballet based on the Greek legend of Daphnis and Chloe, written in the third or fourth century A.D.. His work was defined but not constrained by the impresario character of Diaghilev, choreographer Mikhail Fokine, scenic designer Léon Bakst, and dancers Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky.  Each of these great artists harbored different visions of not only the interpretation of the Greek myth, but also how it should be made into a profitable and notable ballet. The ballet’s simple action revolves around the pastoral lovers, Daphnis and Chloé. The shepherdess Chloé is abducted by pirates, and Daphnis, distraught, falls into a sleep during which he dreams that the god Pan will come to his aid. When he awakens he finds his dream a reality – Chloé has been returned to him.

In 1912 Ravel completed the score. Diaghilev was not happy with it, and wanted to call off the project. Only after much persuasion by Ravel’s publisher did he consent to mount the production. Diaghilev envisioned the ballet as classical Hellenic art. Ravel, however, did not turn to classical Greece for his approach, explaining “My intention in writing it was to compose a vast musical fresco in which I was anxious less about archaicism than fidelity to the Greece of my dreams, which is that which the French artists at the end of the eighteenth century imagined and painted. The work is constructed symphonically, according to a strict plan of key sequences, out of a small number of themes, the development of which ensures the music’s homogeneity.” 

Daphnis et Chloe was not a great success at its premiere in Paris on June 8, 1912.  Nevertheless, the score remains one of Ravel’s supreme achievements. When Ravel started the composition, he became so focused on the project that he did not even notice when the house he was staying in flooded and the floor buckled! The project required three years. The “Bacchanale” required a year to complete to his satisfaction. Igor Stravinsky confirmed that the time was well spent,  “It is not only Ravel’s best work but one of the most beautiful products in all of French music.”

Ravel extracted music from the symphony to make two orchestral suites, and these are popular even today, 112 years later. The first was prepared as early as 1911, before staging for the ballet was complete. The second, essentially Part III of the whole, was issued in 1913: 

Fragments symphoniques de ‘Daphnis et Chloé’ (Nocturne—Interlude—Danse guerrière), 1911, commonly called Suite No. 1

Fragments symphoniques de ‘Daphnis et Chloé’ (Lever du jour—Pantomime—Danse générale), 1913, or Suite No. 2

Daybreak, the first part of the Second Suite (derived from a full score that includes a wordless chorus), is a marvel of orchestral warmth and light, and the wonder of nature’s awakening. Woodwinds and harp rush quietly in endless cascades of ascending and descending notes, like the bubbling waters of a downstream forest brook; birds begin to chirp; a warm melody in the lower string stretches itself luxuriously; an effulgent orchestral burst signals the embrace of the lovers.

The Pantomime section glows with the paganism of the languorous flute solo that dominates it. At this point in the ballet, Daphnis and Chloé mime the story of Pan and Syrinx. The flute solo is Pan’s entreaty to the reluctant Syrinx. 

The General Dance, even with its strong echoes of Rimsky-Korsakov, vibrates and reminds the audience of Ravel’s unique talent and the music’s enduring splendor.


Calendar for Masterworks V: Fiesta