N.Y.-bound WSO mu­si­cians up for adop­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jen Zoratti

OW do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

“Prac­tice.” So goes the old joke about one of the world’s most pres­ti­gious rooms, at­trib­uted to ev­ery­one from vi­o­lin­ist Mis­cha El­man to vaudeville co­me­dian Jack Benny. For the Win­nipeg Sym­phony Orches­tra, a ticket to Carnegie Hall was not only earned by many ca­reers’ worth of prac­tice, but its com­mit­ment to bold, bound­ary-push­ing pro­gram­ming.

On May 8, 2014, the WSO will be per­form­ing in the hal­lowed hall as part of the fourth and fi­nal Spring For Mu­sic, an an­nual se­ries that cel­e­brates the qual­ity and cre­ativ­ity of North Amer­i­can or­ches­tras. The WSO is one of just six or­ches­tras se­lected via pub­lic vot­ing and a ju­ried panel.

“It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary, once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity,” says WSO ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Trudy Schroeder. “Ev­ery mu­si­cian dreams of play­ing Carnegie Hall.”

Well, maybe not ev­ery mu­si­cian. “I didn’t have that spe­cific dream at night,” jokes WSO cel­list Emma Quack­en­bush, who joined the WSO in 2010. “But it’s not some­thing to take lightly. It’s cer­tainly an hon­our. Play­ing Carnegie Hall is the gold stan­dard for clas­si­cal mu­si­cians.”

It will cer­tainly be a high­light in the 30-year-old Calgary na­tive’s young ca­reer, just as it was for prin­ci­pal flutist Jan Koc­man back in 1979 when the WSO made its Carnegie Hall de­but.

“Even as a young kid, you be­come aware of how great it is,” says the In­di­ana-raised mu­si­cian, who has been with the orches­tra since 1974. “Acous­ti­cally, it’s a great hall, but the sense of his­tory is so great. The very best of the world has trav­elled through Carnegie Hall. As a young per­son, that’s very in­spir­ing. As a sea­soned pro­fes­sional, I look for­ward to do­ing it again.”

Both play­ers are look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing the WSO’s all-Cana­dian con­cert in New York City, which Koc­man de­scribes as “thrilling.” Cu­rated by mu­sic di­rec­tor Alexan­der Mick- elth­wate, the con­tem­po­rary pro­gram — which in­cludes Derek Charke’s 13 Inuit Throat Song Games, fea­tur­ing throat singer Tanya Ta­gaq, WSO com­poser-in-res­i­dence Vin­cent Ho’s The Shaman: Con­certo for Per­cus­sion and Orches­tra fea­tur­ing Dame Eve­lyn Glen­nie, as well as R. Mur­ray Schafer’s Sym­phony No. 1 — is re­flec­tive of the in­no­va­tion dis­played by the WSO’s world-renowned New Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. Con­sid­ered a risk in its for­ma­tive years, the con­tem­po­rary mu­sic fes­ti­val has grown into one of the world’s most re­spected un­der Mick­elth­wate’s guid­ance.

“Even in much larger cen­tres, they haven’t been able to es­tab­lish a new mu­sic fes­ti­val,” Schroeder says. “Vis­i­tors to Win­nipeg’s fes­ti­val can’t be­lieve the au­di­ence sizes. We felt (this pro­gram) showed what our orches­tra does best — and what a way to do that than in that icon of a per­for­mance space that is Carnegie Hall.”

But first, they’ve got to get there, which is where the WSO’s Adopta-Mu­si­cian pro­gram comes in. For $3,000, sup­port­ers of the WSO can sup­port a mu­si­cian of their choos­ing and re­ceive a char­i­ta­ble tax re­ceipt and an ac­knowl­edg­ment in the of­fi­cial Carnegie Hall pro­gram, as well as an in­vi­ta­tion to meet their adopted mu­si­cian at the big Carnegie send­off party, among other in­cen­tives. WSO fans can adopt a com­poser-in-res­i­dence or guest artist for $5,000 or Mick­elth­wate for $15,000. Schools or busi­nesses can also opt to adopt an en­tire sec­tion.

Schroeder says the WSO got the idea for Adopt-a-Mu­si­cian from the Ed­mon­ton Sym­phony Orches­tra. “It’s a mar­vel­lous way to con­nect mu­si­cians with busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als and sup­port­ers. We have to get them all to Carnegie Hall, which is an ex­pen­sive en­deav­our,” she says, not­ing that the cost of trans­port­ing or­ches­tral in­stru­ments alone can be pro­hib­i­tive.

Sym­phony-go­ers have al­ready shown their sup­port. Just un­der a third of the orches­tra has al­ready been adopted, and Schroeder hopes to have ev­ery­one spo­ken for by Christ­mas. “We could do anony­mous fundrais­ing, but this re­lates to real peo­ple,” she says.


Above, Els Ka­vanagh and her ‘adopted mu­si­cian son,’ prin­ci­pal flutist Jan Koc­man, who is be­gin­ning his 40th sea­son with the WSO and per­formed at Carnegie Hall with the orches­tra in 1979. Right, cel­list Emma Quack­en­bush is

wait­ing to be adopted.

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