Summer 2022

SEP 8 | Yo-Yo Ma and Paquito D’Rivera

Split photo of Yo-Yo Ma with his cello (left) and Paquito D'Rivera with his clarinet (right)

SEP 8 | 8 PM

Two superstars LIVE! Join cellist Yo-Yo Ma and clarinetist/composer Paquito D’Rivera in the world premiere of D’Rivera’s The Journey. This inspired evening also includes the NSO performing works by Paquito D’Rivera, George Gershwin, Arturo Márquez, and a grand finale with Leonard Bernstein’s visionary and ever-popular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.


National Symphony Orchestra

José Luis Gomez, conductor

The Elephant and the Clown

The Journey*

I. Beans
II. Rice
III. The Journey

World Premiere
*Yo-Yo Ma, cello
*Paquito D’Rivera, clarinet
*Cathy Yang, erhu

*Samuel Torres, percussion; *Alex Brown, piano
Co-commissioned by Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
and the National Symphony Orchestra


Cuban Overture

Danzón No. 2

Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

I. Prologue
II. “Somewhere”
III. Scherzo
IV. Mambo
V. Cha Cha

VI. Meeting Scene
VII. “Cool” Fugue
VIII. Rumble
IX. Finale


Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Ma strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.

In 2018, Ma set out to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world that encompass our cultural heritage, our current creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding that will shape our future. And last year, he began a new journey to explore the many ways in which culture connects us to the natural world. Over the next several years, Ma will visit places that epitomize nature’s potential to move the human soul, creating collaborative works of art and convening conversations that seek to strengthen our relationship to our planet and to each other.

Both endeavors continue Ma’s lifelong commitment to stretching the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore how music not only expresses and creates meaning, but also helps us to imagine and build a stronger society and a better future.

It was this belief that inspired Ma to establish Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions. Through his work with Silkroad, as well as throughout his career, Ma has sought to expand the classical cello repertoire, premiering works by composers including Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and John Williams.

In addition to his work as a performing artist, Ma has partnered with communities and institutions from Chicago to Guangzhou to develop programs that advocate for a more human-centered world. Among his many roles, Ma is a UN Messenger of Peace, the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees, and a member of the board of Nia Tero, the US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide.

Ma’s discography of over 100 albums (including 19 Grammy Award-winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. In addition to his many iconic renditions of the Western classical canon, he has made several recordings that defy categorization, among them Appalachia Waltz (1996) and Appalachian Journey (2000) with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer, and two Grammy- winning tributes to the music of Brazil. Ma’s recent recordings include: Sing Me Home (2016) with the Silkroad Ensemble, which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album; Six Evolutions — Bach: Cello Suites; and Songs of Comfort and Hope, created and recorded with pianist Kathryn Stott in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ma’s latest album is Beethoven for Three: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5, with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at The Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), and the Polar Music Prize (2012). He has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration.

Ma and his wife have two children. He plays three instruments, a 2003 instrument made by Moes & Moes, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice, and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.

Biography provided by artist management.


Paquito D’Rivera defies categorization. The winner of 14 combined Grammy and Latin Grammy awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer.

Born in Havana, Cuba, he performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music, and at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, he directed that group for two years, while at the same time playing both the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He eventually went on to premiere several works by notable Cuban composers with the same orchestra.

Additionally, he was a founding member and co-director of the innovative musical ensemble Irakere. With its explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical, and traditional Cuban music never before heard, Irakere toured extensively throughout America and Europe, earned several Grammy nominations (1979, 1980), and won a Grammy Award (1979). This summer, D’Rivera teamed up with former Irakere member Chucho Valdés (pianist) for a European reunion tour and recording called I Missed You Too! (2022).

His numerous recordings include more than 30 solo albums. In 1988, he was a founding member of The United Nation Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized by Dizzy Gillespie to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz. D’Rivera continues to appear as guest conductor. A Grammy was awarded to The United Nation Orchestra in 1991, the same year D’Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music.

While D’Rivera’s discography reflects a dedication and enthusiasm for jazz, bebop, and Latin music, his contributions to classical music are also impressive. They include solo performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and the St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra. In his passion to bring Latin repertoire to greater prominence, D’Rivera has successfully created, championed, and promoted all types of classical compositions, including his three chamber compositions recorded live in concert with distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma in September 2003. The chamber work Merengue from that live concert at Zankel Hall was released by Sony Records and garnered D’Rivera his seventh Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition in 2004.

In addition to his extraordinary performing career as an instrumentalist, D’Rivera has rapidly gained a reputation as an accomplished composer. The prestigious music house Boosey and Hawkes is the exclusive publisher of D’Rivera’s compositions. Recent recognition of his compositional skills came with the award of a 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, and the 2007- 2008 appointment as Composer-In-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. As part of the Caramoor Latin American music initiative, Sonidos Latinos, D’Rivera’s new concerto for double bass and clarinet/saxophone, Conversations with Cachao, pays tribute to Cuba’s legendary bass player, Israel “Cachao” Lopez. D’Rivera’s works often reveal his widespread and eclectic musical interests, which range from Afro-Cuban rhythms and melodies—including influences encountered in his many travels—back to his classical origins.

Inspiration for another recent composition, The Cape Cod Files (2009), comes from such disparate sources as Benny Goodman’s intro to the Eubie Blake popular song “Memories of You,” Argentine milonga, improvisations on the music of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, and North American boogie-woogie. His numerous commissions include compositions for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Turtle Island String Quartet, Ying String Quartet, the International Double Reed Society, Syracuse University, Montreal’s Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet, and the Grant Park Music Festival.

In 2022, D’Rivera has four premieres of his compositions. The first is the completion of the worldwide commission by four orchestras to expand the trumpet repertoire. The Concerto Venezolano was performed by Pacho Flores this year with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orquesta de Valencia, and the San Diego Symphony. The first performance with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería occurred in 2019 and was recorded with Pacho Flores for Deutsche Grammophon. The second commission, Afro Tales for clarinet and cello, was premiered in April at Michigan State University College of Music. Later in April, the Caribbean Berceuse for clarinet quartet and wind symphony was premiered by the North Texas State Wind Symphony. The final spring premiere, Fantasías Barcelónicas for clarinet quartet, was performed by the Barcelona Clarinet Players. They have recorded the piece and more D’Rivera compositions in the new album Fantasías BarcelónicasTribute to Paquito D’Rivera (2022).

D’Rivera is the author of four books: Letters to Yeyito: Lessons from a Life in Music; Ser o no ser, esa es la jodienda!; Oh La Habana; and My Sax Life. During the pandemic, D’Rivera produced a series of YouTube videos called “The Paq-Man’s Korner.” In the videos, he shares insights of his recordings, premieres chamber music, interviews fellow artists, and gives masterclasses. D’Rivera is the recipient of notable lifetime achievements. He is the recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2005, the National Medal of the Arts in 2005, and the Living Jazz Legend Award from The Kennedy Center in 2007. His numerous other honors include Doctorates Honoris Causa in Music (from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the University of Pennsylvania) and the Jazz Journalist Association’s Clarinetist of the Year Award in both 2004 and 2006.

D’Rivera is the first artist to win Latin Grammys in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories—for Stravinsky’s Historia del Soldado (L’Histoire du Soldat) (2003) and Brazilian Dreams (2002) with New York Voices. He has served as Artistic Director of Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Chamber Music Society; Artistic Director of DC Jazz Festival in Washington, DC; Artistic Director of Jazz Patagonia in Chile; and he continues as Artistic Director of the famous world-class Festival Internacional de Jazz de Punta Del Este in Uruguay.

In 1999, and in celebration of its 500-year history, the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares presented D’Rivera with a special award recognizing his contribution to the arts, his humane qualities, and his defense of rights and liberties of artists around the world. The National Endowment for the Arts website affirms “he has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin, and Mozart.”

Biography provided by artist management.


The Venezuelan-born, Spanish conductor José Luis Gomez began his musical career as a violinist but was catapulted to international attention when he won First Prize at the International Sir Georg Solti Conductor’s Competition in Frankfurt in September 2010, securing a sensational and rare unanimous decision from the jury. Gomez’s electrifying energy, talent, and creativity earned him immediate acclaim from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra where he was appointed to the position of Assistant Conductor, a post created especially for him by Paavo Järvi and the orchestra directly upon the conclusion of the competition.

In 2016, Gomez was named Music Director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Since taking the helm, the orchestra has seen a marked increase in subscribers and donors and Gomez has worked tirelessly to introduce innovative and exciting new outreach activities whilst continuing to nurture and support existing education projects. For example, he helmed the unique Young Composers’ Project which sees students new to composing working closely with orchestra representatives to create new compositions, culminating in a public performance and recording. Maestro Gomez is also a champion of many lesser-known composers from South America, programming their works sensitively with more recognized classical names, creating hugely interesting and unique concerts. He has also been responsible for commissioning new works; for example, he co-commissioned a new concerto for orchestra and trumpet by Arturo Marquez with his orchestra, which was given its US premier under Gomez’s baton in 2019.

Gomez’s recent highlights include conducting the Opera de Tenerife’s Opera Gala at Auditorio de Tenerife, returning to Tucson Symphony to present a vibrant program of music in celebration of Mexican Independence Day, and a debut conducting the Chineke! Junior Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The 21–22 season saw Gomez lead Tucson Symphony Orchestra in his sixth year as their Music Director. Highlights in Tucson included a Latin- influenced season opener with trumpeter Pacho Flores, a baroque special showcasing selections from Handel’s Messiah, and a new concert series labelled New Works Re-Works, which will explore an innovative approach to familiar repertoire. Gomez will return to the Flanders Symphony Orchestra to conduct a program featuring soloist Johannes Moser in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, which will tour venues around Belgium before returning to Brussels for Gomez to lead the orchestra in their season gala at Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. Also this season, Gomez will make much-anticipated returns to conduct the Colorado Symphony and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and will make his postponed debut with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. In the Americas, he enjoys a close relationship with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and has also worked with such orchestras as the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa; the Houston, Vancouver, Colorado, Grand Rapids, Winnipeg, Pasadena, Elgin, and Alabama Symphonies; the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio; the Rochester and Louisiana Philharmonics; and he made his debut at Carnegie Hall with YPhil Youth International Philharmonic. Further south, he has worked with Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Perú.

He has worked extensively at home in Europe with such orchestras as RTVE National Symphony Orchestra of Madrid, Weimar Staatskapelle Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria, Hamburg Symphony, Karlsruhe Staatstheatre Orchestra, Basel Sinfonietta, Orquesta Sinfonica do Porto, Castilla y Leon, Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Sinfonia Varsovia, SWR Radio Sinfonie-orchester Stuttgart, Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, and in 2019, he made a very successful debut with Komische Oper Berlin with Gabriela Montero as soloist.

In Australasia, he has worked with the Macau Orchestra and Nemanja Radulovic, New Zealand Symphony, Australian National Academy of Music in a Celebration of Bernstein, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Daegu Symphony Orchestra, as well as conducted and curated the program for the inaugural year of the Solasian Youth Orchestra at the Daegu Festival.

Other memorable performances included debuts with the Moscow State Conservatory, a widely televised New Year’s Eve concert in Sofia, and New Year’s concerts with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Opera highlights have included La Bohème at Frankfurt Opera, a new production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Stuttgart Opera (of which he also conducted the revival in the following season), La Forza del Destino in Tokyo with the New National Theatre, Don Carlo and Norma at The State Opera in Tbilisi, Georgia, La Traviata in concert with Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni with Teatro Sociale di Como, also joining their spectacular, season-ending production of Cavalleria Rusticana.

He has also featured with the Colorado Symphony, recording Béla Fleck’s Second Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra (also known as the “Juno Concerto”). He went on to conduct the MGD CD release of the Nielsen, Francaix, and Debussy Clarinet Concertos with talented young clarinetist Vladimir Soltan and the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Gomez was the principal conductor of the Orchestra 1813 at the Teatro Sociale di Como between 2012 and 2015 where he curated a new symphonic season, resulting in a new and enthusiastic audience and full houses. He is currently the Musical Director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra where his contract has been extended to the end of the 23–24 season.

Biography provided by artist management.


The Elephant and the Clown
The Journey

One of the most enduring lessons Paquito D’Rivera learned as a child from his classical-saxophonist father, Tito, was the principle Duke Ellington famously articulated: “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.” For D’Rivera, music is simply music—whether it’s jazz, classical, or vernacular styles from Latin America and the Caribbean, improvisation, or composition. He has spent his prolific career celebrating hybrids of styles and traditions that are usually categorized as separate worlds.

A powerful indication of how far D’Rivera has journeyed in these explorations can be gleaned from his vast discography of multiple Grammy Award-winning solo albums and collaborations with artists ranging from Dizzy Gillespie and Astor Piazzolla to Yo-Yo Ma. Born in Havana in 1948, D’Rivera emerged as a child prodigy on saxophone and clarinet, and began making history early on as a member of the trailblazing, all-star fusion ensemble Irakere. He left Cuba in 1980 and became a US citizen, continuing to develop an international following for his ongoing legacy as an instrumentalist and bandleader—and, increasingly, as a composer.

The Elephant and the Clown is a short work D’Rivera originally wrote in 2012 for double clarinet quintet, later arranging it for large orchestra (adding “play toys” to the percussion section to evoke bird calls and other animal sounds). He was inspired by a memory from his Havana childhood, when D’Rivera performed in a TV circus “full of light, colors, animals, and fantasy” that featured “a wonderful trio of musical clowns from Madrid.” He recalled a prank pulled by one of the clowns that involved hiding the elephant from his trainer and convincing him to march to the police station to report its theft.

With The Journey, D’Rivera set out to pay tribute to his personal and artistic connection with Yo-Yo Ma, with whom he had already collaborated for such projects as the cellist’s 2002 album Obrigado Brazil. The idea eventually expanded from a double concerto for cello and clarinet to a triple concerto when he decided to add a third solo part to the second and third movements. This part is assigned to the erhu, an ancient, two- stringed Chinese instrument played with a bow. D’Rivera additionally surrounds the three soloists with a pianist and a percussionist who helps ensure a balance between this upfront combo and the rest of the orchestra.

The instrumentation points to the varied styles and cultural references D’Rivera fuses together in this score. Here, too, a memory from his Cuban childhood prompted the artist’s imagination. He recalled regular visits to a restaurant in Havana’s Chinatown where “the aroma of orchids, jasmine rice with black beans, and the laundry parlor downstairs” blended with the sounds of “different
groups of Asian musicians rehearsing.”

Following the first movement (“Beans”), the erhu makes its first appearance in the slower second movement (“Rice”), introducing a dreamy melody that is soon taken up by the cello and clarinet. D’Rivera weaves what he calls the “nostalgic” and “mystical sounds” of the erhu with jazz rhythms and vocabulary and “melodies, harmonies, and rhythmic cells from Brazil and the Afro-Cuban traditions.” The third movement (“The Journey”), which gives the concerto its title, is meant as “a soulful tribute” to the Chinese people who came to America “in such precarious conditions” and “hugely contributed to the arts and culture of the New World.”

Cuban Overture

In February 1932, George Gershwin headed to Cuba for a vacation that shaped up as “two hysterical weeks in Havana, where no sleep was to be had, but the quality and quantity of fun made up for that.” What intrigued him most of all, he wrote, were Cuba’s “small dance orchestras, who play [the] most intricate rhythms most naturally.” He came home loaded with a new collection of Cuban
percussion instruments, putting them to work in a concert overture he wrote that summer for a hugely successful concert in August devoted to his music.

Gershwin at first called the piece Rumba, the name for the Cuban style that had become fashionable in its exported guise. He later retitled it Cuban Overture to emphasize the skills in classical symphonic technique and orchestration he had been honing. “In my composition I have endeavored to combine the Cuban rhythms with my own thematic material,” Gershwin explained, “The result is a
symphonic overture which embodies the essence of the Cuban dance.”

Danzón No. 2

The son of a mariachi violinist, Arturo Márquez, who was born in 1950, early on began absorbing the folk and popular musical idioms characteristic of his native Mexico. He has become especially well-known for his vibrantly colorful orchestral adaptations of dance genres and the traditions that have grown up around them. Last summer, for example, his latest major work, saw the premiere of his violin concerto Fandango, which explores how the popular Spanish dance evolved in new ways in eastern Mexico.

Márquez has over the years written a series of danzóns that similarly draw from his experiences with a dance that was imported to Mexico, where it took on unique characteristics. The danzón originated in Cuba but went on to become popular in Veracruz, Mexico City, and elsewhere. Fascinated by a visit to a ballroom in Veracruz, Márquez studied the rhythmic, melodic, and formal
qualities of the danzón, listening closely to old-school recordings of the genre. He writes: “I started to understand that the apparent lightness of the danzón is only like a visiting card for a type of music full of sensuality and qualitative seriousness.”

In Danzón No. 2, which dates from 1993, Márquez focuses on the dance’s “nostalgic melodies” and “wild rhythms,” creating what he calls “a very personal way of paying my respects and expressing my emotions towards truly popular music.”

Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Like the other composers on our program, Leonard Bernstein effortlessly moved back and forth between so-called classical and popular styles, in the process creating innovative hybrids. A case in point is the landmark West Side Story, which altered the course of American musical theater from the moment it opened in 1957.

Steven Spielberg’s 2021 film remake (with a revised book by Tony Kushner) reaffirmed how startlingly fresh and impactful this music and the revolutionary choreography connected with it remain more than six decades after West Side Story was conceived. Just a few years ago, the Symphonic Dances became the single most performed of his compositions during the Bernstein centennial.

As part of an upcoming fundraising concert for the New York Philharmonic in 1961, of which he was then music director, Bernstein gathered nine excerpts from the show to create the stand-alone Symphonic Dances, overseeing their orchestration into a suite by his associates Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal; they had just finished scoring the first film version of West Side Story. An extensive percussion section is used to intensify the aggressive confrontation between the rival Jets and Sharks gangs and also for the dances in the gym where the star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria first meet in this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Bernstein’s organization of the material draws attention to the score’s dynamic rhythmic patterns and tight interconnection of motifs. The order of the nine sections departs from the dramatic sequence of the musical and is as follows: Prologue, “Somewhere,” Scherzo, Mambo, Cha-Cha (including “Maria”), Meeting Scene, “Cool” Fugue, Rumble, and Finale.

Program notes by Thomas May.




Dan and Gayle D’Aniello,
Wolf Trap 2022 Season Underwriters