Archive for Classical Music

Isang Yun: Sunrise Falling, a Centenary Composer Portrait

From a life wrought with struggle and torture, comes extraordinary music of stunning virtuosity and raw emotional power.

Uncompromising in his life as he was in his music, Korean composer Isang Yun(1917–95)held fast to his dream of a united people, even as he was unjustly accused of espionage for North Korea and sentenced to imprisonment and death. From this life of unimaginable oppression and torture emerges music of raw emotional power, now heard onISANG YUN: Sunrise Falling, a centennial commemoration of Yun’s life and music from the PENTATONE Oxingale Series. Maestro Dennis Russell Davies, a longtime collaborator and advocate for Yun, curates the program and conducts the Bruckner Orchester Linz, with remarkable, searing solo performances from cellist Matt Haimovitz, violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams, and pianist Maki Namekawa. Called an “important, courageous release” by Deutschlandfunk Kultur,this is the first in a new series of composer portraits from the PENTATONE Oxingale series. ISANG YUN: Sunrise Falling is available for digital download and streaming starting today with the CD release to follow October 5.

A cellist himself, Yun’s fascinating, highly autobiographical Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1975/76) anchors the album, bursting with passion, despair, and new timbral textures bridging Schoenbergian serialism and indeterminate pitch worlds, with radically precise technical demands. The work also integrates the sonic world of Asian instruments and forms, such as the use of a plectrum to emulate the Korean zither, the kŏmun’go. Cellist Matt Haimovitzhad not come across Isang Yun’s work, nor heard of his harrowing personal narrative, until recently: “I tapped into every aspect of my musical toolbox as I approached what at first glance appeared impossible. At the end of my solitary work was confirmation of the rich treasure I had in my possession. Isang Yun’s Cello Concerto deserves to stand alongside Lutoslawski’s and Dutilleux’s in the pantheon of the genre’s late 20th century innovations.” Haimovitz performed Yun’s “Glissées for Solo Cello” (1970), also heard on Sunrise Falling,at the Isang Yun Haus in Berlin on September 17, which would have been the composer’s 101st birthday, and will perform music by Yun at selected upcoming performances in Moscow, Washington, DC, Boston, New York, and elsewhere this fall.

“A composer cannot view the world in which he lives with indifference. Human suffering, oppression, injustice … Where there is pain, where there is injustice, I want to have my say through my music.”– Isang Yun, 1983

Yun’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1(1981) features violinistYumi Hwang-Williams, who reflects upon her own emotional return to Korea in 2015, where she performed the concerto at the Tongyeong International Music Festival held in honor of Isang Yun. Hwang-Williams also performs the wonderfully imaginative Kontraste. Two Pieces for Solo Violin (1987), and Gasa for Violin and Piano (1963), with Dennis Russell Davies at the piano. The double album also includes the orchestralFanfare & Memorial, and the intricate solo piano work, Interludium A(1982)– the note A also being an important reference point in the cello concerto and other works by Yun – performed by pianist Maki Namekawa.

Today, one hundred years after Isang Yun’s birth, the two Koreas still teeter on a razor’s edge, with ever more global ramifications. As unlocked and performed by these extraordinary artists, this music opens the gate to a lost, united land, with Yun’s own heart bleeding, but ever hopeful.

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.” Along with his performances around the world, he currently holds positions at the Schulich School of Music in Montreal and as the first John Cage fellow at The New School’s Mannes School of Music. Haimovitz’s recent recordings include an album solo cello music by Philip Glass, on the Orange Mountain Music label, and, for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, TROIKA, music of the Slavic soul; The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalenaand its companion album, Overtures to Bach; among others.

DENNIS RUSSELL DAVIES is known for his extraordinary range of repertoire, technical brilliance and fearless music-making. An esteemed presence consistently at the forefront of both orchestral and operatic worlds, Davies is also an accomplished pianist.2018 marks 49 seasons that Davies has held music directorships of prestigious international orchestras, while frequently guest conducting with major orchestras and opera companies worldwide. Davis is Music Director and Chief Conductor of the BRUCKNER ORCHESTER LINZ, one of the leading orchestras of Central Europe, and was recently appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Filharmonie Brno.

YUMI HWANG-WILLIAMSis an American violinist of exceptional musicianship, recognized both for her stylish performances of the classics and her commitment to the works of present-day composers. Stringscalls her “a modern Prometheus” who has “emerged as a fiery champion of contemporary classical music.” Hwang-Williams recently celebrated Leonard Bernstein’s 100th by performing Serenade with the Colorado Symphony (Denver), where she has been Concertmaster since 2000.

A leading figure among today’s pianists, MAKI NAMEKAWA is equally at home in classical music and the repertoire of our time. Namekawa records and performs frequently for major radio networks in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. In 2013, she performed the world premiere of the entire cycle of Philip Glass’ 20 Études for Solo Pianoat Perth International Arts Festival under the participation of Glass himself, followed by concerts around the world. A best-selling double-CD of the complete Glass etudes was released by Orange Mountain Music in 2014.

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: www.tippetrise.org

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.

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!

 

PRE-FESTIVAL PRESTIGE SERIES

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.

 

THE BEETHOVEN STRING QUARTETS:  DOVER QUARTET & McGILL LECTURE SERIES

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 ART OF JAN LISIECKI

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.

 

 TD JAZZ SERIES – 3 SPECTACULAR SATURDAY NIGHTS

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 & TWO PREMIERES

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.

 

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT BANK WINNERS:  A CONCERT FOR FAMILIES

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.

 

NEW AND FREE!

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 http://www.saint-joseph.org/en/culture/the-music/sunday-concerts/

 

ALL FESTIVAL TICKETS ON SALE VIA ADMISSION

www.admission.com 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

festivalmontreal.org

 

Opera McGill Presents Die Fledermaus ~ A Glittering 60th Anniversary Production!

fledermaus-image_sgprThis season, Opera McGill proudly celebrates 60 incredible years of training, mentoring, and nurturing young artists. The showpiece of this diamond anniversary season is a new production of Die Fledermaus, the beloved and lighthearted masterwork by Johann Strauss II, last presented by Opera McGill in its 30th anniversary season, in 1986. Opera McGill Director Patrick Hansen serves as both Music and Stage Director for this glamorous new production, to be sung in German with German dialogue, with surtitles in French and English. Dramatic sets and costumes inspired by Gustav Klimt in black, white and gold are by the Opera McGill design team, all of whom are alumni of the National Theatre School: Vincent Lefèvre (sets), Ginette Grenier (costumes), Serge Filiatrault (lighting), and Florence Cornet (makeup). Die Fledermaus receives three performances, January 26, 27 and 28, at the Monument National’s Salle Ludger-Duvernay, a rare move to a major Montreal venue off-campus for Opera McGill.

Strauss’s operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) premiered in 1874 and its gorgeous melodies, waltzes, and wit – and featuring deceptions and disguises among friends and lovers – made it an immediate part of the regular operatic repertory. The opera centers upon an extravagant masquerade ball hosted by a Russian prince. Opera McGill will maintain the tradition of featuring surprise “guests” at the ball, which will include appearances by some of the program’s illustrious alumni.  Several current Opera McGill students are already making impressive forays in the operatic world, including mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh (Prince Orlofsky), who recently won First Prize at the Canadian Opera Company’s annual Ensemble Studio Competition as well as the $25,000 Wirth Vocal Prize for 2016-2017.  (Wirth Prize finalists Jean-Philippe Mc Clish and Igor Mostovoi will alternate in the role of the devious Dr. Falke.)

This season also marks the 10th anniversary of Patrick Hansen’s tenure as Director of Opera McGill, a program that was founded in 1956 by Edith and Luciano Della Pergola. Hansen continues to forge a unique career throughout North America as an operatic conductor, vocal coach, and stage director working with such companies as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pittsburgh Opera, Tulsa Opera, The Juilliard Opera Center, Glimmerglass Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. Hansen has been praised by The New York Times for his “lithe pacing and vivid colors” (conductor, Bluebeard’s Castle) and by Opera Canada for capturing “the opera’s bohemian vitality” for his stage direction of La bohème.

Regarding his dual roles of conducting and staging Opera McGill’s new Die Fledermaus, Hansen says: “I was initially trained in opera by Robert Larsen who conducted and directed every opera he produced. Robert believed that operatic text and music were intrinsically connected, as do I, and when one is properly focused on that connection it makes a great deal of sense to not separate the two by separating conducting and directing responsibilities. In my work as a conductor, I focus on letting the text be sung and acted with as much character as possible. In my work as a director, I help the singers physicalize the music given to them by the composer. For me, music and text are one.”

About Opera McGill

As one of the leading opera training programs in North America, Opera McGill’s students come from all over Canada, the United States, and Europe. At least three new productions are created each season: a mainstage opera with orchestra, a baroque opera with period instruments and tuning (in collaboration with the Early Music program), and a “black box” production. Additionally, Opera McGill has inaugurated a series of Community and Educational Engagement and Events that allow students to perform off- campus in the Montreal area as well as in the CEGEPs and elementary schools.

About the Schulich School of Music

Founded in 1904, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University embodies the highest international standards of excellence in professional training and research. The School is renowned for its programs in orchestra, opera, jazz, early music and contemporary music. Its status as a leader in sound recording and music technology provides unique possibilities for collaboration with the larger musical community.  Recognized as one of the major music schools in North America, the Schulich School of Music has more than 850 students, 240 faculty members and top programs in research and technology.  It hosts some 700 concerts and events each year.

 

Inaugural Concert for the Azrieli Music Project: Compositions by Brian Current, Wlad Marhulets, Mahler and Bernstein

Kent Nagano and the OSMMaestro Kent Nagano is conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal on Wednesday, October 19 at 8 p.m. at Maison symphonique de Montréal in a concert presenting a reflection on tradition, identity and on the universal character of music. Four wonderful soloists – tenor Frédéric Antoun, pianist Serhiy Salov, clarinetist André Moisan and soprano Sharon Azrieli Perez – and the OSM Chorus will join forces with the Orchestra on stage to perform masterworks by Bernstein and Mahler along with a spectacular concerto for clarinet by Wlad Marhulets, the inaugural winner of the Azrieli Prize in Jewish Music. The audience will also hear the world premiere of a groundbreaking and epic work by Brian Current, The Seven Heavenly Halls, winner of the Azrieli Commissioning Competition. The event is being presented in collaboration with the Azrieli Foundation.

The Azrieli Music Project is a daring and ambitious new initiative, fostering the creation of new orchestral works on a grand scale that is rarely seen. This first edition presents composers of two major new works reflecting on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish experience. While the Jewish experience is a  central theme of this program, music remains a universal language that transcends culture, ethnicity, time and place.

Commenting on the partnership with the Azrieli Foundation, Music Director Kent Nagano stated: “The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is delighted to take part in this ground-breaking new initiative, which sets an impressive example for both philanthropy and creation in Canada. On behalf of the OSM, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Azrieli Foundation for spearheading this collaborative project.”

Dr. Sharon Azrieli Perez (also performing excerpts from Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder) inaugurated the project in 2015, stating, “Music has always played an important role in the development of cultural identities; it reflects history and soul. In creating these extraordinary opportunities for composers of music inspired by Jewish experience, we hope to sustain music’s vital continuity through the long and rich history of Jewish people and culture. The Azrieli Music Project is a medium for innovation, creation and risk-taking by today’s most inspired orchestral composers.”

Programme:

  • The World Premiere of Brian Current’s magisterial The Seven Heavenly Halls for orchestra, chorus and tenor solo (with Frédéric Antoun, tenor)
  • Wlad Marhulets’ virtuoso Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet for orchestra  and clarinet solo (with André Moisan, clarinet)
  • Bernstein’s rarely heard The Age of Anxiety for piano and orchestra (with Serhiy Salov, piano)
  • Mahler’s sublime Adagietto for orchestra and Rückert-Lieder (excerpts) for soprano and orchestra (with Sharon Azrieli Perez, soprano)

A pre-concert discussion will be held in French and English starting at 7:00 pm on the Parterre level lobby of Maison symphonique. Kelly Rice will moderate the discussion which will include composers Brian Current, Wlad Marhulets, and composer and AMP jury member Ana Sokolović.

Details of works to be performed:

Brian Current’s The Seven Heavenly Halls is a work of grand proportions, calling for full orchestra and chorus, and a tenor soloist. This 25-minute piece was inspired by the ancient Kabbalistic book of the Zohar, with a scale harkening back to the golden age of great symphonic music. “While reading through the Zohar, I immediately heard turbulent and gestural music full of orchestral colours,” says Current. “Even more inspiring was the reference to the Sefer Hekalot or the Seven Heavenly Halls, a series of ecstatic stages where each vision is marked by a different colour.”

Wlad Marhulets’ Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet brings the lively folk traditions of central Europe to the concert hall. Born in Minsk in 1986, Marhulets moved with his family to Gdansk, Poland as a child. It was there, at the age of 16, that he first heard a recording by acclaimed klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer. “Listening to this modern reinvention of klezmer music changed my life,” says Marhulets, who soon after moved to  New York City, where he met Krakauer and was taken under the wing of Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano. Marhulets’s Klezmer Clarinet Concerto was premiered by Krakauer and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Andrew Litton, in 2009.

Gustav Mahler, Jewish by birth, fought persecution throughout his entire career. Fifty years later Leonard Bernstein was able to celebrate his Jewish cultural heritage openly and to critical acclaim. Works by Mahler and Bernstein on this program bear witness to the history of composers who struggled to express personal and cultural identity through the universal language of music.

Since its founding in 1934, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) has made a name for itself as a leading orchestra in Quebec and Canada. The OSM is a cultural ambassador of the highest order, having earned an enviable international reputation for its many quality recordings and tours. The OSM proudly upholds this tradition under the leadership of its current music director, Kent Nagano, by featuring innovative programming that aims to rejuvenate the orchestra’s repertoire and strengthen its connection with the community. Over the years, the OSM has gone on tour approximately 40 times (with the most recent being a coast-to-coast tour of the United States from March 14 to 26, 2016) and roughly 30 excursions in Canada and abroad. The Orchestra has more than 100 recordings to its name on the Decca, EMI, Philips, CBC Records, Analekta, ECM and Sony labels, as well as on its own label. These recording have earned some 50 national and international awards.

The Azrieli Music Project (AMP) is a newly-established initiative of the Azrieli Foundation. Inspired by the creative vision of Dr. Sharon Azrieli Perez, AMP aims to celebrate, foster and create opportunities for the performance of high quality new orchestral music on a Jewish theme or subject.

The Azrieli Foundation is a Canadian philanthropic organization that supports a wide range of initiatives and programs in the fields of education, architecture and design, Jewish community, Holocaust commemoration and education, scientific and medical research, and the arts. www.azrielifoundation.org/music