Grassroots Festival Orchestra

GrassRoots Festival Orchestra

2016 Concert

Cayenna Ponchione, conductor
Leila Nassar-Fredell, leader

John Paul Tobin, viola and Ivy Walz, mezzo-soprano

GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance
Trumansburg, New York
Sunday, July 24th, 2014
9:00 a.m.
Grandstand Stage
For tickets, visit:

Butterworth: On the Banks of Green Willow
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No.2, mvt ii
Clarke (arr. Loman): Viola Sonata, mvt ii, John Paul Tobin, viola
Lockwood: Displaced Voices, Ivy Walz, mezzo-soprano
Ballantyne: From Shale Rock We Rise, Ivy Walz mezzo-soprano
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, mvt ii
Puryear, arr. Hyman: Mystic Water

This year's GrassRoots Festival Orchestra concert is special for many reasons. In addition to bringing two new works into the repertoire that engage intimately with the major environmental and humanitarian crises we are facing, we welcome back top-notch mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz to perform with the orchestra and welcome for the first time, violist John Paul Tobin, to perform the Clarke Viola Sonata. The commissioning and performance of these new works is supported by the Women's Philharmonic Advocacy and the Sounding 2020 Kickstarter campaign, which drew together 31 generous donors to support the We Are Seneca Lake Commissioning Project. Read below for more information about these project and the artists!


The Women's Philharmonic Advocacy is "dedicated to leveling the playing field for women in music". As part of their many initiatives along these lines, they support concerts that feature works by women composers through a competitive granting scheme. This year the GrassRoots Festival was awarded a grant to perform the second movement of Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata and commission Rachel Lockwood for a piece for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra.


Displaced Voices Displaced voices is a project of composer Rachel Lockwood (see below). Provoked by the increasing flow of refugees from Syria and elsewhere to Europe, this project commissions and performs new works based on the words of incoming refugees. The GrassRoots Orchestra is honored to commission and perform the first piece of this new initiative. In this new work scored for chamber orchestra and mezzo-soprano, Lockwood draws on the words of a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Read the full interview by Amy Christian here.

Rachel Lockwood Rachel Lockwood (1986- ) grew up in the North East of England, not realising how much of a Northerner she was until she moved to Oxford for her University studies. She spent three years at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, studying under the supervision of Professor Susan Wollenberg. She worked on composition with Dr Robert Saxton and Dr Thomas Hyde, as well as Techniques of Composition and Orchestration for her Finals. She then moved on to a postgraduate course studying composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (UK), working with Adam Gorb, David Horne, Gary Carpenter. READ MORE on her website...

Ivy Walz T Ivy Walz, mezzo soprano is a performer of dramatic intrigue and musical sophistication. She has performed on the opera stage with nationally acclaimed opera houses such as Cincinnati Opera, Syracuse Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Spoleto Festival and Tri-Cities Opera. A proponent of modern opera, she most recently performed the role of Helena in Il Sogno with the newly formed Opera Ithaca. A lauded oratorio artist, she has performed many solo roles with professional orchestras. Recent highlights include Handel’s Messiah with Symphoria, Mozart’s Requiem with Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, and Mozart's Mass in C minor with Cayuga Chamber Orchestra...READ MORE on her Website.

Rebecca Clarke The Philharmonic Advocacy Grant also supports the performance of a movement from Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata. Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was born and raised in England, with a German mother and an American father, Clarke spent much of her adulthood in the United States and she claimed both English and American nationality. Her late-Victorian childhood and, in particular, her father’s cruelty, are described in her memoir written in 1969-73. But it is also clear that her family was artistically inclined and her musical studies were encouraged. Clarke enrolled at the RAM in 1903, where she studied the violin. She was abruptly withdrawn from the institution in 1905, when her... READ MORE on the REBECCA CLARKE SOCIETY WEBPAGE

The Viola Sonata (1919) alongside her Piano Trio (1921) is one of her best-known works. Thanks to the superb orchestration made by composer Ruth Lomon for orchestra and viola, we are able to bring you this magnificent work at the GrassRoots Festival Orchestra Concert this summer with violist John Paul Tobin.

John Paul Tobin Violist John Paul Tobin has worked as a television musician, studio musician, side musician, orchestral musician, conductor, and teacher in Los Angeles since 2004. JP appears regularly as a guest musician on television broadcasts such as "American Idol" and "The Voice." As a conductor, he has worked extensively with young musicians from the elementary through collegiate levels in areas across the United States, and has served as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director for two youth orchestras within the Harmony Project Los Angeles system --one of the nation's largest and most effective 501(c)3 non-profit youth orchestra programs.

A former guitarist and mandolinist, JP attended Penn State University where he initially studied Physics. While at Penn State, he took-up the viola under the instruction of Timothy Deighton, and has been performing on that instrument exclusively ever since. In 2007 he completed his M.M. in Viola Performance with Minor Wetzel at Cal State Fullerton.

JP Tobin has extensive experience with Early Music, studying with Tafelmusik in 2001, with the Penn State Baroque Ensemble under Rob Nairn from 2000 to 2003, tuning and temperament theory and late-Baroque high counterpoint with Lloyd Rogers from 2005-2007, and co-founding the ensemble Les Sauvages Américains in 2010.

An attendee of the Henry Mancini Institute in 2004, JP works in popular genres both on television and as a side musician for artists such as Rihanna, Natalie Cole, Burt Bacharach, Harry Connick Jr., broadway star Michael Cavanaugh, and an extended list of others. He is a member of the daKah Hip Hop Orchestra in Los Angeles.

As soloist and chamber musician, JP searches habitually for the unique and beautiful sound of the viola. Incorporating technical characteristics from a variety of historical periods and regions, he directs artistic energy towards the curation of a tenore, or "large-pattern," viola sound: referencing the resonant properties of the tenor viol and the Renaissance lira da braccia, and working towards a rediscovery of Hermann Ritter's German Romantic sound and the now-lost, quinte voice of the orchestral textures of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Georg Muffat.

Now based on the east coast, JP is married to violist Ashley English Tobin with whom he performs regularly in ensembles across North America.

JP Tobin performs on one of the remarkable American violas by Sarah and Alan Balmforth.


Sounding2020Sounding 2020 is a 5-year commissioning project initiated by Cayenna which aims to generate 5-10 new compositions between 2016 and 2020 which engage directly with humanitarian and environmental issues in order to bring them to greater attention by leveraging the concert event as a space for acknowledging and exploring our relationship to these problems though the performance and experience of music. Earlier this spring, Sounding 2020 launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the commissioning and recording of a new work to promote the work of The We Are Seneca Lake, a grassroots organization working to protect Seneca Lake and the surrounding area from fracked gas storage expansion. Crowdfunded by 31 generous donors, the project brings together the musical talents of Ithaca-based artists, composer Kathleen Ballantyne, poet Melissa Tuckey and mezzo soprano Ivy Walz. The composition will be recorded by the GrassRoots Festival Orchestra by Fingerlakes Recording and given to We Are Seneca Lake to use in their campaign.

Melissa Tuckey Ithaca-based poet, Melissa Tuckey is author of Tenuous Chapel, an award winning book of poems selected by Charles Simic for the ABZ Press first book prize (May 2013) and Rope As Witness (chapbook: Pudding House Press, 2007). She is a fellow at Black Earth Institute. Other honors include a Winter Fellowship at Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, writing awards from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Ohio Arts Council, and a residency at Blue Mountain Center...READ MORE on her Website.

Kathleen Ballantyne Ithaca-based composer Kathleen Ballantyne made her debut as a composer with Women's Works of Ithaca in March 2014 with Petition, a choral work based on an 1874 petition to the US government in support of women's suffrage. Recent premieres of her works include "Because My Love is Come to Me" with the NYSSMA Zone 2 Area All-State Jr. High Women's Chorale and “Pirate Story” with the Ithaca Children and Youth Chorus. Her music is published by Alfred Music Publishing and Heritage Music Press...READ MORE on her Website.