Author Archive for shiragilbert – Page 3

The Shaman & Arctic Symphony ~ Orchestral Works by Vincent Ho

Ho’s brilliant and compelling (The New York Times) Shaman Concerto featuring astounding percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie is paired with his chilling and “beautifully thought-provoking” (Winnipeg Free Press) Arctic Symphony in live recordings by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Mickelthwate, in a new release from Centrediscs.

Striking live recordings of two monumental orchestral works by Canadian composer Vincent Ho, commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO), are brought together on a new release from Centrediscs, available October 13. The WSO and conductor Alexander Mickelthwate perform The Shaman: Concerto for Percussion & Orchestra, featuring a tour-de-force role for Dame Evelyn Glennie, and Arctic Symphony, Ho’s mesmerizing atmospheric musical portrait of the north, co-commissioned by climate change scientist Dr. David Barber of the University of Manitoba. The remastered CBC Radio live recordings beautifully showcase the compelling sound world of Vincent Ho, whose music John Corigliano describes as “wild and fanciful … [Ho] takes us to the limits of sonic energy, but it is also intimate and tender, for he is not afraid to reveal his truly lyrical soul.

Meeting Evelyn Glennie inspired Ho to compose The Shaman: “I have always been fascinated by the concept of shamanism,“ says Ho, “Shamans treat physical ailments by mending the person’s soul while connecting them to supernatural realms. This is how I see Dame Evelyn Glennie; her performances are spiritual events. She has the uncanny ability to draw the audience into a magical world and take them through wondrous journeys that are beyond material existence.”

Glennie inhabits the role of the shaman, making a ceremonial entrance while surrounded by otherworldly sounds. Casting her spell on the audience, the music develops into a primal dance that harkens the ancient rituals of tribal celebrations. A free-form impromptu offers Glennie a virtuoso improvisatory opportunity, followed by an interlude where the soloist summons up the “spirits of the earth” (the orchestra) as they prepare for the explosive finale. Inspired by the primitivism and unbridled energy in works like Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Ho unleashes his inner inferno in the final “Fire Dance.” The widely acclaimed work has been performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and in several Asian cities, as well as at Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival in 2014, with Mickelthwate and the WSO, where The New York Times declared it “brilliant and compelling” and New York Classical Review called it “swaggering, satisfying and often spectacular.”

In 2008, Vincent Ho had the opportunity to visit the Arctic region as part of an “Artist on Board” program through the Circumpolar Flaw Lead Systems Study organization. This unique program was created by scientist Dr. David Barber whose vision was to invite artists of various disciplines to visit the region and create their own interpretation of the land. The unique experience – which included learning from leading climate change scientists and visits to indigenous communities – inspired the Arctic Symphony. In advance of the work’s 2010 premiere, conductor Alexander Mickelthwate commented to The Globe and Mail, “Vincent created these incredible soundscapes that feel like landscapes. You literally see and feel the ice.”

Enchanted by the Arctic but immersed in Northern environmental concerns, Ho wondered: “If the land could sing, what would it say or sound like?” The composer’s creative journey took the form of an extended song without words, where emotional statement and sorrowful cry manifested in cascading harmonies and free-floating melodies, drifting in and out like Northern winds. In his finale, Ho aimed to bring together the two cultures of his guides: scientists and elders. “Though their experiences and relationship with the Arctic came from differing perspectives, they had a common concern for the region’s plight,” says Ho. Bookending the symphony are two songs by the Inuit youth ensemble, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut performers, with an evocative backdrop of Arctic environmental sounds. The chilling work resonates even more strongly today, as climate change concerns dominate the news and politics.

Vincent Ho is a multi-award winning composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and theatre music. His awards have included Harvard University’s Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts Robert Fleming Prize, ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Award, four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio’s Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers Competition). Dr. Ho served as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence from 2007-2014, and became Artistic Director of Calgary’s Land’s End Ensemble in 2015, a chamber music organization devoted commissioning, performing, and recording new works by Canadian and international composers. In 2016, he was appointed New Music Advisor to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Following studies in Calgary, Toronto, and Paris, Ho earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California.

Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. Evelyn’s solo recordings, which now exceed 30 CDs, are as diverse as her career on-stage. A double GRAMMY award winner, Glennie is a leading commissioner of new works for solo percussion and has more than 200 pieces to her name from many of the world’s most eminent composers. Profoundly deaf since age 12, Evelyn’s film Touch the Sound and her enlightening TED Talk remain key testimonies to her approach to sound-creation. With over 80 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize, a Damehood, and the Companion of Honour, Evelyn continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has toured throughout Canada, and made its first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1979. The orchestra has worked closely with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation since 1954, with numerous recordings on the CBC label and thousands of national radio broadcasts. The WSO is known internationally for its annual New Music Festival, which provides an environment rich in exploration and discovery of new works by composers from Canada and around the world.

This recording project was made possible by the generous support of Marten Duhoux and Joanne DeFehr, and FT3 Architecture.

Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley Explore Music of the Slavic Soul in TROIKA

Acclaimed for their adventurous and wide-ranging recording projects – from Beethoven Sonatas on period instruments to genre-bending arrangements of Radiohead and Arcade Fire – the endlessly inventive duo of cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley returns to explore music of the Slavic soul. Anchored by the cello sonatas of the iconic triumvirate of Russian composers – Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich – and inspired by the subversive irony of Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, TROIKA also delves into more recently-written, unexpected, and popular works. Whether subtle or blatantly rebellious, each work potently reveals the strength of the artistic voice in the face of political repression in mother Russia. The 2-SACD recording on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series will be released in North America on October 20, with a special advance digital release on September 29.

Shostakovich’s Waltz from his 1956 Suite for Variety Orchestra, sets the tone. Made famous by its iconic placement in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, the work conjures up worlds of repressed sexuality and nostalgia. The Waltz acts as an overture to the composer’s 1934 Sonata for Cello and Piano, from its deathly slow, marching coda to its rising folk tunes and swirling harmonies. From the same year comes Prokofiev’s Troika, from his film music to Lt Kije – a wistful winter’s journey of sleigh bells and balalaikas, from an exiled composer longing to return to his homeland. In 1948, the Soviet Cultural Committee banned Prokofiev’s music, calling it “hostile to the spirit of the people.” The dedicatees of his inspired Cello Sonata, Op. 119, the great Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter, had to audition the work multiple times before it was allowed to be performed in Moscow. Completing the album’s troika is Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, from 1901, along with the composer’s beloved wordless “Vocalise” of 1915.

TROIKA’s second disc goes farther afield, from the popular anthem Kukushka by Viktor Tsoi – one of Russia’s most influential and revered singer-songwriters, who died in 1990 at the age of 28 – to the layered irony of The BeatlesBack in the U.S.S.R.. Finally, with their cover of Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer, Haimovitz and O’Riley celebrate the band’s courage and the spirit of protest in an age of Orwellian intimidation. Haimovitz and O’Riley actually recorded these works in early 2016, months before, as Haimovitz says, “the maelstrom of Russian interference in world politics that swirls around us today. The composers and songwriters of TROIKA, each in their own way, use the power of their voices to warn and to cajole, to resist and to remember.”

The New York Times has said: “If any artists were destined to collaborate, it was surely this pair.”  About their most recent collaboration on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series, BEETHOVEN, Period., Gramophone enthused:  “Haimovitz and O’Riley play the living daylights out of these works. They lap up Beethoven’s combative style like hungry lions anticipating raw steak.” Haimovitz and O’Riley have performed music from their wide-ranging album Shuffle.Play.Listen, reissued on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series earlier this year, in dozens of cities across North America. All Music said: “The boundaries between rock and classical are erased here not just by juxtaposition but by cognizance of interpenetration.”

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” His album of solo cello music by Philip Glass, on the composer’s Orange Mountain Music label, was released this summer and featured the world premiere of Glass’s Partita No.2. This season will also see the release of Haimovitz’s live recording, with the Bruckner Orchestra and conductor Dennis Russell Davies, of the cello concerto by Isang Yun, commemorating the 100- year anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Acclaimed for his “infectious passion” by The Los Angeles Times, pianist CHRISTOPHER O’RILEY is known to millions as the host of NPR’s From the Top. Now in his seventeenth year on air, O’Riley introduces the next generation of classical-music stars to almost a million listeners each week. Living by the Duke Ellington adage “There are only two kinds of music, good music and bad,” O’Riley – a proponent of the former in all of its guises – has received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and an equally coveted four-star review from Rolling Stone. O’Riley performs piano arrangements of music by Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana alongside traditional classical repertoire.

The Azrieli Foundation Awards the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music to Kelly-Marie Murphy

Kelly-Marie Murphy

The Azrieli Foundation is proud to announce that composer Kelly-Marie Murphy is the winner of the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music. This is the second time that the Foundation has awarded the $50,000 CAD prize – the largest of its kind in Canada – which is granted to a Canadian composer based on a proposal for a new work which expresses an aspect of the Jewish experience with the utmost creativity, artistry and musical excellence. Established by the Azrieli Foundation in 2015, the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) also include a $50,000 international prize, granted to the composer of the best new major work of Jewish Music written in the last ten years. For 2018, the Azrieli Music Prizes highlight new works for chamber orchestra, and will culminate with the Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert with the McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and Guest Conductor Yoav Talmi on October 15, 2018 at Maison symphonique de Montreal.

Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy’s music has been described as “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post) and “striking … full of brilliant tours” (The Globe and Mail). As one of the most recognized voices on the Canadian music scene, Murphy has created a number of memorable works for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras. Born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, Murphy grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England. After living for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated “an alien of extraordinary ability”, she is currently an adjunct professor in the School of Music, University of Ottawa.

Kelly-Marie Murphy’s new work, a double concerto for cello and harp, will explore Sephardic music and how it impacted other cultures as the diaspora settled in Morocco, Tunisia, and parts of Europe. “What fascinates me is how music travels, and how it can subtly influence cultures throughout its journey,” says Murphy. She will draw from Sephardic folk and liturgical melodies for the new concerto, “to build on this use of source material as a respectful attendant and contributor to a vibrant, living culture.” Murphy adds, “The Azrieli Foundation has created a wonderful opportunity to encourage Canadian composers to write significant works on a grand scale.  This tremendous award means acknowledgement of the work that I have done and trust in the work that I have yet to do.  It is both an honour and a renewal.”

Dr. Sharon Azrieli, who created the awards on behalf of the Azrieli Foundation, comments, “I am thrilled with the jury’s choice of Kelly-Marie Murphy, an innovative and exciting composer with a distinctive voice and vision. Her new concerto will serve to enrich a repertoire of Jewish orchestral music. Thus, in winning the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music, she is the next vital and integral partner to my vision of sustaining the glorious continuity of Jewish music and our culture.”

Jury member, composer Ana Sokolović, adds, “Kelly-Marie Murphy is one of our best-known Canadian composers. Her work is honest, direct, and of great competence and we are confident that she will give us a work that is worthy of the Prize.” Sokolović serves on the AMP jury for the second time along with conductor Boris Brott, composer Aaron Jay Kernis, musicologist Neil Levin and conductor and composer Steven Mercurio.

The inaugural Azrieli Music Prize winners were Brian Current and Wlad Marhulets, whose works were performed on October 19, 2016 with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal,, conducted by Maestro Kent Nagano at Maison symphonique de Montréal. This month, the winning works will be recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Mixed Choir in Prague under the baton of Maestro Steven Mercurio, and also receive a live performance in Prague’s Smetana Hall on September 18. Canadian composer Brian Current’s The Seven Heavenly Halls, the first part of his six-movement River of Light cycle, will feature tenor soloist Richard Troxell, who has been released from the Metropolitan Opera specifically for this project. Wlad Marhulets, from Poland and now based in Los Angeles, will have his Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet performed by the orchestra, along with acclaimed clarinetist David Krakauer, for whom he created the work. Dr. Sharon Azrieli will be representing the Foundation in Prague and also will perform at the September 18 concert. A noted operatic soprano and scholar of Jewish and cantorial music, she will sing “Set me as a Seal” from American composer Lukas Foss’ song cycle, Song of Songs.

The 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music call for submissions remains open until November 5, 2017. Submissions are being accepted, without entry fee, from composers of all nationalities, faiths, backgrounds, affiliations and experience levels. For submission details, please visit


For 25 years, the Azrieli Foundation has quietly funded institutions as well as operated programs on the ground. The Foundation supports music and the arts, scientific and medical research, higher education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, architecture, Holocaust education and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities.


Live Recording Captures Inaugural Concert Season of TIPPET RISE Art Center in Montana

Music by Scriabin, Chopin, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Antón García Abril

From a summer of world-class performances in the intimacy of a concert barn, located on a 10,260-acre, working ranch dotted with majestic large-scale sculptures – all nestled against the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains – comes Tippet Rise OPUS 2016: Domo, new from the PENTATONE Oxingale Series. In a centennial Scriabin year, music by the Russian mystic composer, alongside Chopin, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Antón García Abril, are realized live by pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, Svetlana Smolina, Christopher O’Riley, Anne-Marie McDermott, Stephen Hough, Jenny Chen and Julien Brocal with cellist Matt Haimovitz, trumpeter Elmer Churampi, and soprano Emily Helenbrook. The inspiration of artists Cathy and Peter Halstead, the Tippet Rise Art Center celebrates the concept that art, music, architecture, and nature are inextricably linked in the human experience, each amplifying the other. Reflecting that bold and expansive mission, Tippet Rise OPUS 2016 presents a cornucopia of virtuosity, fantasy, and transcendence. 

The album’s cover reveals a view of the megalith, Domo, the largest outdoor sculpture at Tippet Rise: a giant’s table in the mystical shape of a neolithic dolmen, designed and created by architects Antón García-Abril & Débora Mesa of Madrid’s Ensamble Studio. Under the spreading canopy of this colossal structure, music can be heard spinning out over the hilly prairie. But when the wind whips up, or storm clouds barrel down, we return to the comfort of the Olivier Music Barn, where pianists have their pick of a veritable Eden of instruments – ten Steinway pianos grace the Tippet Rise collection.

Oxingale’s Luna Pearl Woolf and Matt Haimovitz curated this compilation. “This first summer at Tippet Rise, themes and symmetries emerge organically from live performances by extraordinary artists. The OPUS 2016 program, oscillating back and forth between solo piano and duos of varying formation, celebrates the expansive, symphonic dialogue of human imagination and nature at Tippet. Nothing can replace the combined intimacy and grandeur of attending these concerts live, but with the new Tippet Rise OPUS series, we hope to share these musical moments, and their captivating surroundings, with the world.”

The ecstatic music of Alexander Scriabin frames this album: pianist Yevgeny Sudbin’s Sonata No. 5, and Poème de l’extase, arranged for two pianos and trumpet, performed by Christopher O’Riley and Svetlana Smolina with Elmer Churampi. More Russian masters are represented by cellist Matt Haimovitz and O’Riley, with Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, a magical moment previewing the pair’s 2-CD album of Russian music, TROIKA, to be released fall 2017. We continue with “La semaine grasse” from Stravinsky’s solo piano arrangement of Petrushka with Jenny Chen, and Rachmaninoff’s La nuit … L’amour, movement II of the Suite No. 1, Op. 5 (Fantaisie-Tableaux for two pianos) with O’Riley and Anne-Marie McDermott. Yet another superb pianist, Stephen Hough, entrances with Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 15, No. 2 in F-sharp major. Antón García Abril, a venerated Spanish composer and father to one half of Domo-creators Ensamble Studio, was commissioned to write a new song cycle for this inaugural season. A selection from his setting of seven poems by Tippet Rise’s co-founder Peter Halstead is performed by O’Riley and soprano Emily Helenbrook. Pianist-composer Julian Brocal contributes his own composition, Souvenirs, as an exclusive addition to the digital album.

“Scriabin believed that a weeklong concert outdoors, complete with dancing and drinking, would result in the Apocalypse. We’re delighted Tippet Rise has proved him wrong,” said Tippet Rise founders Cathy and Peter Halstead. “We can aver that a season long outdoor concert series results in musical epiphanies, personal revelations, and a visceral empathy with nature. The pieces chosen for this CD captures how the soul of Tippet Rise’s 10,260 acres is reflected and enhanced by the music made here.

In joining the PENTATONE Oxingale Series, we are thrilled to be in the same company as the classic Philips repertoire and as the great cellist Matt Haimovitz, linking the finest achievements of the past with the technology of the future. We look forward to many more years of our partnership, which brings our audience closer to the ambiance that shapes our summer concerts.”

Tippet Rise OPUS 2016: Domo is available now in HD and SD digital and will be released worldwide on August 4, 2017. An integral part of Montana’s musical scene, the album is always available as a souvenir from the Art Center itself.

For information on the upcoming season (July 7–September 16, 2017), which includes performances by pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, Jenny Chen, Anne Marie McDermott, and Jeffrey Kahane; the Ariel, Escher, and St. Lawrence String Quartets; a world premiere by Aaron Jay Kernis, performed by pianist Pedja Muzijevic and cellist Matt Haimovitz; as well as numerous additional artists and events, please see:

About Tippet Rise Art Center

Tippet Rise Art Center is located in Fishtail, Montana against the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains, roughly midway between Billings and Bozeman and north of Yellowstone National Park. Set on a 10,260 acre working sheep and cattle ranch, Tippet Rise hosts classical music performances and exhibits large-scale outdoor sculptures. Tippet Rise believes that art, music, architecture, and nature rise to a new level when they collaborate.

As an institution founded to serve its neighbors in Montana as much as visiting musicians, artists, and audiences, Tippet Rise develops and supports year-round education programs in schools at the K-12 level, in local colleges and universities, and other organizations.

Composer Luna Pearl Woolf ~ 8 New & Acclaimed Works Heard This Spring

The music of Luna Pearl Woolf, praised by The New York Times for its “psychological nuances and emotional depth” is heard far and wide this spring with both existing works and new commissions, with artists including Dame Evelyn Glennie and ensembles such as the Deutsches Kammerorchester. Utilizing a huge variety of instrumentation  –  from solo clarinet to orchestra to cello-and-choir  –  Woolf’s poignant subjects range from devastating floods to the sumptuous love poetry of Rumi.  Last month, Woolf served as the inaugural composer-in-residence for San Francisco’s Bard Music West with a newly-commissioned score for the mime play Act Without Words I by Samuel BeckettSan Francisco Classical Voice called it “a fabulous new production” praising how “Woolf’s illustrative music skillfully augments the performers’ movements.”

NEW YORK – On Thursday, April 27th at 8:00 pm, Luna Pearl Woolf’s Rumi: Quatrains of Love (2012) will have its New York premiere on a program by ChamberMusicNY and the American Modern Ensemble at Merkin Hall, featuring soprano Marnie Breckenridge. San Francisco Classical Voice said the work, which features translations of nine poems by the 13th-century Sufi mystic, “alluringly displayed diverse facets of love refracted through a variety of genres … timeless and borderless.” Free tickets to the New York concert are available here. Woolf will also be on hand for an onstage Q&A.

MADISON – Woolf’s acclaimed Après moi, le Déluge is heard the following day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Friday, April 28th at 8:00 pm. The performance features cellist Matt Haimovitz and the UW Concert Choir, directed by Beverly Taylor, who also premiered the work in 2005. A response to the tragic aftermath following Hurricane Katrina, with an original text by poet Eleanor Wilner, Après Moi has been heard in numerous cities over the past 12 years, including New York City, Washington, DC, Houston, Austin, Montreal, and, most significantly, New Orleans.  Strings Magazine calls it “sorrowful, deeply political, and aching with universal regret.”

NEW YORK – Trinity Wall Street’s contemporary music orchestra, NOVUS New York, conducted by Julian Wachner, performs After the Wave on Thursday, May 18 at 1:00 pm, part of the Concerts at One series. Woolf’s 2005 work is dedicated to the survivors of the South Asian tsunami of December 24, 2004, which killed 225,000 people. Calling upon the emotional abyss between panic and grief, productivity and hope, After the Wave attempts to span the physical void from North America’s comfortable coasts to the ravaged one in Sumatra. The concert, on the theme of the 2017 Trinity Institute National Theological Conference on climate change and water crises, also includes John Luther Adam’s Pulitzer Become Ocean.

CALGARY – Further expanding her forays into dramatic instrumental music, Woolf has created Entanglement, a choreographed work for renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and cellist Ruth Sandvoss of Calgary’s Land’s End Ensemble. The commission celebrates the ensemble’s 20th Anniversary season and will be premiered on Friday, May 26 at 7:30 pm. Using only use the cello, the floor, and the two performers’ bodies as percussion instruments, this sensual and surprising work pushes the musical, dramatic, and physical possibilities for a percussionist and cellist.

BERLINLINZ – In June, Woolf’s works are heard in Germany and Austria. On Tuesday, June 6 the Deutsches Kammerorchester in Berlin performs a premiere arrangement of Schubert’s Arpeggionne sonata for cello and strings, featuring Matt Haimovitz. Then, on Friday, June 9 Woolf’s Suspense, new music for the 1913 silent film by Lois Weber, for 8 cellos and 4 percussionists, is presented by the Bruckner Orchestra’s new music festival in Linz.

TORONTO – Woolf has also been commissioned to write a new mass in three movements, Missa in Fines Orbis Terrae (To the Ends of the Earth), for the Choir of The Cathedral Church of St. James, in Toronto accompanied by that cathedral’s renowned organ. The mass, under the direction of Robert Busiakiewicz, will be premiered on Sunday July 30.

Other recent projects for Luna Pearl Woolf include Better Gods, an opera about last queen of Hawaii and the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, commissioned by Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative; Lili‘uokalani for solo cello piccolo, an overture to Bach’s Cello Suite VI commissioned by Matt Haimovitz for his Overtures to Bach, widely performed across the US, Canada and in Germany and recorded on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series (Grammy winner for producer David Frost); and One to One to One, commissioned by the Arte Musica Foundation for a composer portrait concert at Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Woolf has also been named a finalist for Houston Grand Opera’s 2017 Song of Houston, an initiative which commissions new projects that resonate with contemporary life in Houston. Upcoming projects soon to be announced include a new co-commission from with opera companies on Toronto and San Francisco.


World Premiere Recording of Desyatnikov’s Sketches to Sunset Featuring Acclaimed Violinist Roman Mints

Quartz Music presents a new album featuring the mesmerizing and deeply beautiful music of Leonid Desyatnikov, one of today’s most treasured and frequently-performed living Russian composers, and including the world premiere recording of the 1992 work Sketches to Sunset, and the Russian Seasons. Supervised by the composer, the new recording features renowned violinist Roman Mints with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Philipp Chizhevsky. This new release follows Roman Mints’s recent albums for Quartz – Dance of Shadows and a double-album of works by Alfred Schnittke – which have been widely critically-acclaimed.

Roman Mints, a long time champion of the work of the composer, comments, “Leonid Desyatnikov creates a unique world in which you can find a place for both your heart and your mind. His sparkling intellect lets him set off in a single stroke an explosion of associations and ideas.” Both works on the new recording are being staged by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky at New York City Ballet this spring.

This is the first-ever symphonic recording of Desyatnikov’s Sketches to Sunset, also featuring pianist Alexey Goribol. Based on Desyatnikov’s music for Alexander Zeldovich’s film Sunset, after Isaac Babel, the story is based in pre-revolution Odessa and is full of Biblical references, including movements with titles such as “The Death of Absalom” and “Lot’s Daughter,” as well as “Take Five and Seven,” and “Jewish Lambada.” “It was my first encounter with Desyatnikov’s amazing manner of being serious and wicked at the same time,” says Mints, “Laughing through tears, irony, and self-irony.”

The Russian Seasons contains twelve movements, all based on Russian folk tunes and texts, with five of them featuring vocals by Yana Ivanilova. Here, Desyatnikov shows off his entire musical palette, from Du Fay to Piazzolla. While the instrumental movements feature moments of joy and merriment, utter hopelessness dominates the vocal movements, in which the composer addresses listeners directly in words. “Swaying Song” talks about an unloved old husband; “Whit Monday Song,” about a lover who did not return from a war; “Fasting Song,” about a soul that has not been admitted to heaven; and “Wedding Song,” about a maiden who does not have too long to cry and, consequently, live. “While working on Desyatnikov’s music,” says Mints, “I often wonder why there are so many sunsets, so much fading and hopelessness, which are more apparent to Russian listeners than western listeners. I think I have found the answer. We live in a country where it is always the same time of year, and it is always sunset. But the glow from the sunset sparkles beautifully against the clouds.”

A major figure in post-World War II Russian music, LEONID DESYATNKIOV was born in 1955 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He has written four operas and numerous vocal and instrumental compositions. His principal works include an opera The Children of Rosenthal; ballets Lost Illusions and Opera; a chamber opera Poor Liza; Gift, a cantata; Liebe und Leben des Dichters, a vocal cycle; The Leaden Echo for voice(s) and instruments on the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Rite of Winter 1949, a symphony for choir, soloists and orchestra. His works have been commissioned by the Bolshoi Theatre and La Scala. He has collaborated with Gidon Kremer to write Wie der Alte Leiermann; the chamber version of Sketches to Sunset; as well as arranging the works of Astor Piazzolla, including the tango-operita María de Buenos Aires and the tango suite Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas. An award-winning composer for film and amongst his scores are those for Sunset, Lost in Siberia, Moscow Nights, Hammer and Sickle, Giselle’s Mania, His Wife’s Diary, The Prisoner of the Mountains, Moscow and Target.

Last spring, also on Quartz Music, Roman Mints released an album of works for violin and piano by Alfred Schnittke which the San Francisco Chronicle called “a thrilling reminder of the eloquence this composer could wring from even the most aggressively dissonant material … and all elicit superb performances from Mints and [Katya] Apekisheva.” The New York Times called his previous release, Dance of Shadows, an innovative program of music by Ysaÿe, Piazzolla, and Schnittke, as well as a premiere by Dobrinka Tabakova “fascinating and technically brilliant,” while Strings Magazine called the recital “a thing of haunting beauty and magic.”

ROMAN MINTS was born in Moscow and began playing the violin at the age of five. In 1994, Roman won a Foundation Scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London and also studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, winning prizes at each, alongside contemporaries Dobrinka Tabakova, Elena Langer, Maxim Rysanov, and Kristina Blaumane. Along with championing the work of Leonid Desyatnikov, Mints has given the Russian premieres of works by Tavener, MacMillan, Mozetich and world premieres of over fifty works including compositions from Tabakova, Bennett, Langer, Finnissy, Irvine and others. In 1998, Roman and oboist Dmitry Bulgakov founded the Homecoming Chamber Music Festival which takes place annually in Moscow. Mints’s previous recordings also include the Grammy-nominated String Paths for ECM, and releases for the Black Box and Harmonia Mundi labels.




The Eybler Quartet presents the World Premiere Recording of Vanhal’s Six String Quartets, Op. 6 on Period Instruments

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The Eybler Quartet, the acclaimed Toronto-based string quartet, praised for both their “poise and grace” (The WholeNote) and their “grit and urgency” (San Francisco Chronicle), releases a new album this month featuring the string quartets of Czech composer Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739–1813).  Immensely prolific – second only to Haydn in the number of string quartets and symphonies to his credit – Vanhal has emerged as one the most significant innovators in the development of the Classical or Viennese style, earning a place alongside its most well-known exponents, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Vanhal’s six string quartets, Op. 6, are recorded here by the Eybler Quartet on period instruments for the first time. The Quartet will launch the new recording at the Heliconian Club of Toronto on Thursday, April 27 at 7:30, performing works by Vanhal as well as music by Mozart and Haydn.

Born into servitude in Nechanice, Vanhal’s gifts as a musician were recognized and developed from childhood. After achieving proficiency on the organ and violin, he relocated to Vienna where he quickly enjoyed enough success in the city’s aristocratic circles as a teacher and performer to purchase his freedom from bondage. The first composer to make a living free of a court or municipal position – a distinction often afforded Mozart – Vanhal was the most widely published Viennese composer from 1771–81, far outstripping the elder Haydn or the young Mozart.

“This is perhaps the cheeriest, happiest classical recording we will ever make – or that you might ever hear,” comments violist Patrick G. Jordan, “There are no quartets in minor keys. In fact, there are no movements that do anything more than briefly visit that darker side. And yet, there is huge variety in expression. In our rehearsal and recording process, we quickly exhausted the words “charming”, “delightful” and “sweet”, reaching for “sunny”, “bright”, “friendly” and in one case, a made-up word “nostohedon” or nostalgia with pleasure in place of pain. Among the moments of wistfulness, yearning and intensity, we drew our own characterizations, such as “kid’s party,” “slightly tipsy Maggie Smith sipping a Mimosa,” “gormless Prince Charming,” and, my personal favourite for one of the Presto final movements, “ocelots on the loose!”

The Eybler Quartet came together in late 2004 to explore the works of the first century of the string quartet, with a healthy attention to lesser known composers such as their namesake, Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler. The group plays on instruments appropriate to the period of the music it performs. Violinist Julia Wedman and violist Patrick G. Jordan are members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra; Julia and Aisslinn are also members of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. Cellist Margaret Gay is much in demand as both a modern and period instrument player. The group brings a unique combination of talents and skills: years of collective experience as chamber musicians, technical prowess, experience in period instrument performance and an unquenchable passion for the repertoire. Their most recent recording, a 2-CD set of Joseph Haydn’s Op. 33 String Quartets for the Analekta label was called “simply a treasure” by Early Music America, “the tempos are beautifully chosen, the ensemble perfect, and the intonation absolutely pure. This is music-making that reflects the deeply human and attractive qualities found in Haydn the composer—good humor, wit, and invention.”  The ensemble’s recording of Eybler’s Opus 1 String Quartets, also for Analekta, is the world premiere recording of these pieces.            



David Krakauer and Matt Haimovitz’s Profound and “Brilliantly Inventive” AKOKA Receives its First International & Remastered SACD

First released in North America to great acclaim in 2014, clarinetist David Krakauer and cellist Matt Haimovitz’s “brilliantly inventive” (The New York Times) live recording, AKOKA, is remastered and released on SACD internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series this month. AKOKA lifts Messiaen’s transcendent Quartet for the End of Time – in a “shatteringly beautiful performance” (The Jewish Week) – out of the polite context of a chamber music performance, and bookends it between Akoka, Krakauer’s improvisational, Sephardic-tinged piece, and Meanwhile…, a re-mix by hip-hop/klezmer artist SocalledHenri Akoka – the Jewish clarinetist who premiered the Quartet for the End of Time with Messiaen himself at the German prisoner-of-war camp in which they were both interred – is the inspiration for this recording, which brings out the human aspect of this composition, seen through the eyes of one individual caught up in terrifying events beyond his control.

As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance and violence intensify in today’s world, this mounting of Messiaen’s great work only increases in its relevance. David Krakauer comments: “In June 1940, Henri Akoka was captured by the German army along with Messiaen and two other musicians – a cellist and a violinist – and imprisoned in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany (now Poland). The Quartet for the End of Time was premiered with the composer at the piano at the camp on January 15, 1941 in front an audience of about 400 fellow prisoners and guards. When the French prisoners of war were allowed to return home, Akoka was told that because he was Jewish, he was going on a “different train” to a destination in the east – surely a concentration camp. In the dead of night, Akoka jumped off the train – with his clarinet! – and miraculously made his way back to Paris where he survived the war.  In “Akoka,” we musically juxtapose the story of one lone human being caught up in world conflagration, fleeing for his life, with the huge concepts of the Apocalypse and the end of time itself that are depicted in Messaien’s Quartet.  By framing it with my wailing, quasi-improvised piece and Socalled’s nightmarish electronic new work, we feel like we have created a unique way to present Messiaen’s towering masterpiece.”

The new release on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series also features new liner notes by Matt Haimovitz, and by Rebecca Rischin, author of the book For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet, as well as commentary on the Quartet by Messiaen himself.

Clarinetist DAVID KRAKAUER is praised internationally for his ability to play in a myriad of music genres with “prodigious chops” (The New Yorker) and “soulfulness and electrifying showiness” (The New York Times). He occupies the unique position of being one of the world’s leading exponents of Eastern European Jewish klezmer music, and at the same time is a major voice in classical music. With his band Ancestral Groove, he has redefined the klezmer genre with major appearances internationally and his discography contains some of the most important klezmer recordings of the past decade. In his newest project, The Big Picture, he explores the universal search for identity through a re-imagination of familiar themes by renowned film music composers.

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” His most recent recordings for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, Overtures to Bach and The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena, were among the recordings credited to David Foster for winning this year’s Grammy Award for Classical Producer of the Year. Performance highlights this season include numerous performances of Overtures to Bach in the US, Canada, and Germany, and concerti with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Atlanta Symphony, and Tokyo’s New Japan Philharmonic. In June Haimovitz leads the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Berlin Philharmonie, and performs a concerto by Isang Yun with the Bruckner Orchestra with Dennis Russell Davies on tour in Austria.

Josh Dolgin, aka SOCALLED, is a pianist, accordionist, producer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, magician, cartoonist and puppet maker based in Montreal. He has appeared in music festivals from Moscow to Paris, London to LA, and Krakow to San Francisco. With six solo albums to his name, he has performed all over the world for more than 10 years, and his list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural, nor religious boundaries.

Violinist JONATHAN CROW is currently in his sixth season as Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Between 2002 and 2006 Jonathan was the Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; during this time he was the youngest concertmaster of any major North American orchestra. He continues to perform as guest concertmaster and as soloist with orchestras around the world.

Equally active as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician, and jazz performer, pianist GEOFFREY BURLESON has performed to wide acclaim throughout Europe and North America. The New York Times has hailed Burleson’s solo performances as “vibrant and compelling,” praising his “rhythmic brio, projection of rhapsodic qualities, and rich colorings.” Current recording projects include Saint-Saëns’ Complete Piano Works, on 5 albums, for the new Naxos Grand Piano label.

collectif9 plays Gustav Mahler

Montreal’s “Dazzling” 9-piece String Band Explores New Territory

After touring extensively across North America and in China with music from their critically-acclaimed debut album Volksmobiles, Montreal’s cutting-edge 9-piece classical string band, collectif9, brings an entirely new set list to the stage featuring the music of Gustav Mahler, including original arrangements of selections from Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. The intimate ambiance of the Matahari Loft, delicately lit by Martin Sirois, lends a mysterious air to this acoustic evening of discovery on Saturday, April 8, starting at 8pm.

In revisiting Mahler’s first two majestic symphonies, collectif9 explores themes as profound as life and death, contrasting the torment of human existence with the immaculate splendor of nature. Whilst navigating through somber reflections and wry folk melodies, the group pays homage to Mahler’s distinct brand of irony. Despite the huge scale of instrumentation in Mahler’s symphonies, the individual voices are often woven as intricately as chamber music, and proved conducive to Thibault Bertin-Maghit’s new 9-voice reductions. Also included on the set list for April 8 are transcriptions of works by Gabriel Prokofiev, founder of London’s classical club-night series Nonclassical, and Canadian composer Derek Charke’s Falling from Cloudless Skies. (Night owls should stay late for a post-concert set from Want Slash Need.)

Since its 2011 debut, collectif9 has heralded a new age in genre-bending classical performance, attracting diverse audiences in clubs, outdoor festivals, and concert halls, often with staging, and amplification – as well as charisma – more commonly seen at rock shows. Their debut recording, featuring the world premiere of Canadian composer Geof Holbrook’s Volksmobiles was called “dazzling” (The WholeNote) and “an eclectic mix of five folk-inspired tunes, each attacked with vigor and verve … [from] an ensemble that has the potential to go very far indeed.” (La Scena Musicale) Recent appearances include an extensive cross-Canada tour, debuts in New York and several other US cities, and a 3-city tour to China.

collectif9 is: Thibault Bertin-Maghit, leader and bass; John Corban, Yubin Kim, Robert Margaryan, and Liz Skinner, violins; Scott Chancey and Xavier Lepage-Brault, violas; Andrea Stewart, and Jérémie Cloutier, cellos.

BEETHOVEN ~ PASSION ROMANTIQUE: The Montreal Chamber Music Festival’s 22nd Season

Beethoven image_SGPRMay 26 ~ June 18, 2017

Pre-Festival Prestige Series ~ February 1, May 6, and May 10

The Montreal Chamber Music Festival presents Beethoven: Passion romantique, dedicating its 22nd season to the spirit of Beethoven, the great master who represents the transition from the Classical to the Romantic era.  Founder and Artistic Director Denis Brott, C.M. has featured the music of Beethoven on almost all Festival concerts, anchored by the performance of the complete Beethoven string quartets over six concerts by the extraordinary Dover Quartet, who have “enjoyed a “rise to the top [that] looks practically meteoric” (Strings Magazine). Denis Brott comments:  “Like no other composer, Beethoven ushered in a new musical language inspired by the French Revolution’s Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  Beethoven’s remarkable prowess and indomitable spirit has influenced all music since, and his emotional expression and compositional innovation continue to inspire and resonate.  The Festival celebrates his genius with gratitude and gusto in 2017.”

This 22nd Festival season, which is preceded by a three-concert “Prestige Series”, features many more extraordinary artists, including superstar Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, a world premiere by Yoav Talmi, the Israeli Chamber Project, the Rolston String Quartet, the always-popular jazz series with Rémi Bolduc, Robi Botos, and Natalie MacMaster, and much more.  A total of 43 events, at all times of day, fill out the Festival schedule for more concerts, more free events, and more Beethoven than ever before!



To open the 2017 season and the Prestige Series, the Festival is thrilled to welcome back close friends, the Emerson String Quartet for a recital on February 1 at 7:30 pm at Salle Bourgie. This unmatched quartet is celebrating its remarkable 40th anniversary season with a delightful program of Mozart’s Quartet No. 15, K.421; Ravel’s Quartet in F Major; and Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 3.

Beethoven Words & Music brings together several of the composer’s chamber works with texts from his journals and letters for a wonderfully intimate evening on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 pm at Théâtre Paul-Desmarais, Canadian Centre for Architecture.  The elegant Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein, who thrilled Festival audiences last season with his performances of Mozart concerti in transcriptions for string quartet, returns alongside violinist Andrew Wan, cellist Denis Brott, and narrators in English and French, Eric Friesen and Julie Payette, respectively.

The final event of the Pre-Festival Prestige Series is Casanova, a theatrical collaboration with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice on Wednesday, May 10 at 8 pm at Pollack Hall.  Acclaimed baritone Michael Volle takes on the persona of the 18th-century Italian adventurer, best known for his legendary womanizing, in an evening featuring music by Mozart, Vivaldi, and Gluck, with soprano Sharon Azrieli Perez.



Described by The New Yorker as “the young American string quartet of the moment,” the Dover String Quartet catapulted to attention after sweeping the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, and has quickly become a major presence on the international scene.  With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the quartet’s sound is “so distinctive as to be identified within mere minutes” (Philadelphia Inquirer). The Dover Quartet will perform the complete Beethoven String Quartet cycle for the Festival, taking place over six concerts, all at Pollack Hall:  May 26, 28; June 2, 4, 9, and 11.  In partnership with the Festival, McGill’s School of Continuing Education presents a series of bilingual lectures on the Beethoven quartets, directed by Richard Turp with guest speakers including Raffi Armenian, Denis Brott, and Julie Payette.

The Dover Quartet also joins current Banff International String Quartet Competition torch bearers, the Rolston String Quartet for a concert of award winners on Thursday, June 8 at 7:30 pm at Pollack Hall.  Music will include Mendelssohn’s famous String Octet, Op. 20 and the Quebec premiere of Quartet No. 1 by Zosha di Castri, which was written for last summer’s Banff competition.



The Festival is thrilled to present two concerts featuring the spectacular young pianist Jan Lisiecki.  Just 21 years-old, Lisiecki has won acclaim around the world for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound, and poetic sensibility.  The New York Times has called him “a pianist who makes every note count” while Classic FM, praising his most recent album for Deutsche Grammophon, wrote:  “he may be young but Jan Lisiecki plays like a legend.”  Jan’s new album of orchestral works by Chopin, with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, also for Deutsche Grammophon, will be released in March.

On Wednesday, June 14 at 7:30 pm at Pollack Hall, Jan is joined by cellist Denis Brott in a recital of works by Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin.  Then, on Friday, June 16 at 7:30 pm, he performs a solo piano programme including works by Beethoven and Chopin, closing with an arrangement for piano and string quintet of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, with the Festival Strings.



The Festival’s popular TD Jazz Series always brings in tremendous artists from home and away for three fun-filled evenings, and this year is no exception.  The three Saturday night concerts all take place at Salle Bourgie, beginning at 7:30 pm.

On June 3, Canadian saxophone icon Rémi Bolduc brings his dazzling virtuosity, refreshing style and magnetic stage presence to the Festival for a new programme:  Tribute to George Shearing: Lullaby of BirdlandTo salute the legendary pianist, Bolduc brings along a group of outstanding musicians including François Bourassa, piano; Neil Swainson on bass; Pat Labarbera on tenor saxophone, and drummer Rich Irwin, for an unforgettable evening.

Robi Botos is a virtuosic pianist, rooted in everything from Eastern European folk to classical to modern jazz. The Oscar Peterson protégé, and recent Juno winner for “Jazz Album of the Year” for his Movin’ Forward, takes the stage on June 10 with bassist Mike Downes and drummer Larnell Lewis.

To close out the jazz series on June 17, the Festival welcomes beloved Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster and her quartet.  Over the course of 11 record releases, including numerous gold albums, and three decades of performing thousands of live shows, often collaborating with a multitude of world renowned artists, MacMaster has remained true to her traditional and invigorating jigs, reels, and strathspeys, always leaving her audience clapping and hollering for more.


The Israeli Chamber Project comes to the Festival for two concerts at Pollack Hall, both with thrilling premieres. This dynamic ensemble, based in both Israel and New York, comprises strings, winds, and piano, all of them brilliant, prize-winning players.  Time Out New York calls them “a band of world-class soloists … in which egos dissolve and players think, breathe and play as one.”

On Tuesday, June 13 at 7:30 pm, clarinettist Tibi Cziger and cellist Michal Korman are highlighted in the Canadian premiere of Shulamit Ran’s Private Game for clarinet and cello.  They are joined by pianist Assaff Weisman, violinists Yehonatan Berick and Carmit Zori, and violist Nitai Zori, for works by Bartók, Weber, and Brahms.  The concert on Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 pm, features the world premiere of Quintet for Clarinet by acclaimed Israeli conductor, composer, and pianist Yoav Talmi, well-known to Quebec audiences following his 13-year tenure as Artistic Director of the Quebec Symphony.  Talmi will be joined by his colleagues including pianist Alon Goldstein in a concert that will include Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances for four hands and Quintet for Piano and Strings No. 2.



The Montreal Chamber Music Festival once again proudly highlights the talents of the next generation of brilliant classical musicians, including the latest crop of winners of the Canada Council’s Musical Instrument Bank.  On Sunday, June 18 at 3:00 pm at Pollack Hall, the young musicians will perform a delightful and family- friendly programme, on the exceptional collection of great violins and cellos by such legendary makers as Antonio Stradivarius and Guarnerius del Gesù, valued at over 40 million dollars.

Four different superb violinists, to include Dennis Kim, Timothy Chooi and recent OSM Manulife Competition winner Blake Pouliot, take the lead in the movements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, performed with narration and projections.  The ensemble will also perform Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11, Op. 95, as arranged for string ensemble by Mahler, and Saint-Saëns’ whimsical favourite, The Carnival of the Animals, narrated by Julie Payette.



Matinées musicales

Join us for free concerts on Saturday morning June 10 and 17.  Coffee and croissants are served starting at 10:30 am at Tanna Schulich Hall, with the 1-hour concerts starting at 11:00 am.

Smartphone Concerts

Keep your smartphone turned on Tuesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 15 from 5:15 – 6pm for our unique concerts in the lobby of Tanna Schulich Hall.  Capture the concerts, featuring the young Instrument Bank string players, in your own unique style and post them for an online video competition.

 Concerts dans les rues

A series of free noon-hour concerts featuring up-and-coming musicians, at noon each day from Monday, June 12 to Friday, June 16, locations TBC.

Sunday Concerts at Saint Joseph’s Oratory

Free concerts each Sunday during the Festival: May 28, June 4, June 11, and June 18 – all at 3:30 pm.  More information at


ALL FESTIVAL TICKETS ON SALE VIA ADMISSION or 1 855 790-1245 and at all Admission outlets

Tickets for all Festival concerts:

Regular:  $ 61.84 / Seniors:  $ 51.50 / Students 26 and under:  $ 28.50

Children 12 and under, accompanied by an adult:  FREE

Taxes and fees included