Arts & Life:
Settle in for the classical season
There’s no lack of highquality concerts coming up over the next year for classical music aficionados in the Edmonton area.
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra boasts a number of the marquee names, from Joshua Bell to Ben Folds, but there are other impressive artists visiting town, such as Anne Sophie Duprels, who will be reprising her critically acclaimed role as Cio-CioSan in Madama Butterfly for Edmonton Opera in April.
Revered composer R. Murray Schafer will be here in March for three days during the New Music Edmonton festival, and violinist James Ehnes will be at McDougall United Church in April.
It’s easy to get caught up in the celebrities coming to town, but Edmonton’s choral groups, from Da Camera Singers to I Coristi Chamber Choir, continue to shine with innovative and exciting concerts that are equally worthwhile. Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Edmonton Recital Series and Early Music Alberta consistently have quality programs, and the Classical Guitar Society never fails to impress with an international lineup of fantastic players. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The list below is a sampling of just some of the excellent concerts there are to check out: ❚ Doublebassist Edgar Meyer, virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell and pop star Chantal Kreviazuk are among the heavyweight musicians playing with the ESO in 2013 and 2014. Bell makes his Winspear appearance on Sept. 24, with a performance of Saint-Saens’ Rondo capriccioso and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Oct. 10 sees an evening of Operetta Magic with soprano Amy Wallis, while film buffs will want to check out the screening of silent film classic Nosferatu on Oct. 31, with rising young organ star Mathias Rehfeldt providing the spooky music. November is packed full of musical gems, including two nights of Mozart (Nov. 1-2), Broadway classics (Nov. 8-9), Edgar Meyer on Nov. 15-16 and a symphony for the kids with Twins and the Monster on Nov. 23. Handel’s Messiah is performed on Dec. 6-7, Kreviazuk makes an appearance on Dec. 10, and the usual Christmas programming runs between Dec. 19 and 22. January sees pianist Jean-Phillippe Collard brought in for a program of Brahms and Beethoven on Jan. 10-11, while Ravel is given his due on Jan. 24-25. Music from Chicago, cabaret and other Broadway favourites are showcased on Feb. 7-8, and there’s a program of Warner’s cartoon music on Feb. 15. March boasts an appearance by violinist
Elena Urioste for Elgar’s Violin Concerto on March 8, plus A Celtic Journey on March 21-22 with fiddler
Eileen Ivers. April 25-26 conductor Steve Reineke plus vocalists Ryan Silverman and Nikki Renee Daniels will evoke the era of Mad Men with The Cocktail Hour, while May 2-3 the Richard Eaton Singers team up with the ESO for the Miraculous Mandarin, Bartok’s pantomime ballet. Two orchestras play the Russian masters on May 13, Ben Folds returns to rock the town on May 21, May 30-31 are devoted to the Golden Age of Film Music, with pieces from Lawrence of Arabia, The Magnificent Seven and much more. The season ends on June 7 with William Eddins conducting the orchestra on pieces by Copland, Barber and Bernstein. All performances take place at the Winspear Centre. For complete listings, check the Winspear website at winspearcentre.com. ❚ Other classical music organizations in town have great seasons to look forward to as well. Richard Strauss’s Salome kicks off Edmonton Opera’s 50th season, taking place Oct. 26, 29-31, with Waut Koeken directing, DavidStern conducting and a cast that includes Maida Hundeling as Salome. Next up, Alison Grant directs Die Fledermaus on Feb 1, 4 and 6, with help from conductor Peter Dala, and the season ends with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, with a cast that includes Anne Sophie Dupreis as Cio-Cio San and Luciano Ganci as Pinkerton. Check the website for information on pre-Opera brunches before each production. The Edmonton Opera Chorus will be celebrating five decades with Salute to 50 at McDougall United Church on Nov. 23. All mainstage operas take place at the Jubilee Auditorium. ❚ Alberta Baroque Ensemble starts its season on Oct. 6 with a concert of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. The popular Baroque Chamber Music Treasures series continues on Nov. 10, while Music For a Festive Season is scheduled for Dec. 8. The group kicks off 2014 with Concertos in a Grand Tradition on Feb. 9, follows that up with 18th Century Music from Central Europe on March 16, and ends the season with Italian Masters on April 27. All concerts take place at Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123rd St.
Da Camera Singers get back in the saddle with Kings and Shepherds, a seasonal offering of carols old and new on Dec. 14 at All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral, and take the sting out of March with Songs of the Soul at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on March 2. The group finishes up for the year at First Baptist Church with Psalms and Songs of Celebration on May 4, with RJ Chambers conducting.
The opening concert for Pro Coro is coming up fast, and it’s free; they’ll be premièring The Twilight Cities by Canadian composer Kristopher Fulton on Sept. 29 at the Winspear Centre as part of a repeat of last year’s successful multicultural choral program. Nov. 3 sees the group at All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral with works by Jason Noble, Frank Martin and Ugis Praulins, after which they’re back at the Winspear on Dec. 15 for A Pro Coro Christmas. They collaborate with the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto on Feb. 9 at All Saints’, and again at the cathedral on March 23 for a program of Grim and Glacial. There’s the traditional Good Friday at the Winspear on April 18, followed by their final concert on June 1 at All Saints’.
The organization formerly known as RCCO Sundays at 3, now renamed Organic, Organ in Concert have already started their year with a performance by South Africa’s Gerritt Jordaan. Next up is Quebec’s Rachel Laurin at the Winspear on Oct. 6, followed by Italy’s Massimo Nosetti at First Presbyterian Church on May 2.
The New Orford String Quartet performs at Muttart Hall in Alberta College to start the eighth season of the Edmonton Recital Society on Oct. 8. Sonic Escape is next up with a concert at the Yellowhead Brewery on Oct. 16, while the duo of Lawler and Fadoul are back at Muttart Hall at Alberta College on Nov. 27. The ERS Emerging Artist series begins Jan. 5 with pianist Alexandra Munn and soprano Nola Shantz at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and there’s a gala performance by pianist Sara Davis Buechner on Jan. 21 at the Winspear. Tenor Benjamin Butterfield and pianist Peter Dala perform at Muttart Hall on Feb. 12, the duo of Mercer-Park is at the same venue on March 26, and the season ends at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on May 18, with ESO all-star Allene Hackleman on horn and Sarah Ho on piano.
The London Handel Players are first up for the Edmonton Chamber Music Society on Oct. 4 at Convocation Hall. The series switches to McDougall United Church on Oct. 25 with soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, to West End Christian Reformed Church on Nov. 9 with a cappella quartet Anonymous 4, and back to Convocation Hall at the U of A with Trio Jean Paul on Jan. 31. Vihuela and baroque guitarist Jose Miguel Moreno is at Convocation Hall on March 22, and acclaimed violinist James Ehnes finishes the season off at McDougall United Church on April 2.
The Edmonton Classical Guitar Society has an excellent season in store, starting with Chilean guitarist Carlos Perez on Oct. 4. The combined Canadian and Salzburg guitar quartets show up as G8 on Nov. 9, Paul O’Dette makes an appearance on Jan. 24, and finally the brilliant young Russian guitarist Rovshan Mamedkuliev is slotted for March 7. All concerts are at Muttart Hall in Alberta College.
The Greenwood Singers continue a longtime seasonal tradition with Hymns and Readings for Advent and Christmas on Dec. 8 at St. Joseph’s Basilica, and at First Presbyterian Church with The Many Moods of Christmas on Dec. 9. They reappear again in the spring with Music For the Soul III, a program of choral music from Renaissance to Broadway, on April 11 at All Saints’ Anglican Church.
Don’s Piano Showroom in St. Albert hosts the St. Albert Chamber Music Recital Series, with flutist Peter Dundjerski and pianist Sarah Ho opening the season on Oct. 5. Early Music Alberta ( Josephine van Lier, Jolaine Kerley, Judy Loewen) are next up on Nov. 23, the Vaughan String Quartet on Feb. 1 and Edmonton Guitar Trio
on March 15. Pianist Patricia Tao and violinist Yue Deng finish things off with a concert on May 10. Early Music Alberta is hosting its annual Early Music Festival on May 2, 3 and 4 of next year.
La Belle Époque, a selection of French melodies with pianist Jacques Despres and vocalists Elizabeth Turnbull and Catherine Abele, kicks off The University of Alberta Music at Convocation Hall on Sept. 20. Trio Voce perform Mozart, Ravel and Dvorak on Sept. 28, while Charles Stolte, William H Street and Roger Admiral have a program of Music of the 21st Century for saxophone, electronics and piano on Oct. 6. There are Opera Fantasies to be found on Oct. 18, the Madrigal Singers and a few friends celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth on Nov. 17 at the Winspear, and the musical world around Bach is explored on Jan. 19 with organist Marnie Giesbrecht and narrator Joseph H. Patrouch. Pianist Jacques Despres returns on Jan. 24 with violinist Andrew Wan for an evening of Beethoven, some of the province’s most talented band students perform with the U of A’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble on Feb. 9 at the Winspear, and Brass Fireworks are celebrated on Feb. 12. The action moves back to the Winspear on March 16 for Percussive Winds with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and soloist Matthew Coley, while the University Symphony Orchestra tackles Mozart and Tchaikovsky on March 23, also at the Winspear. The final concert also takes place at the Winspear with an April 4 presentation of the Indian and West African Music Ensembles.
All performances are at Convocation Hall on the U of A campus, unless otherwise noted.
Music director Rob Curtis leads I Coristi Chamber Choir through a three-concert series that starts with Lives, with music by Estacio, Lukaszewski and Whitacre, on Nov. 16. Works by Tormis, Brahms and Somers are featured in Voices on Feb. 22, while Primavera celebrates spring with Mendelssohn, Dove, Morley and O’Regan; it takes place on May 24. All concerts at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
New Music Edmonton continues to surprise with an eclectic series of concerts. There’s Pigeon Breeders and Nate Wooley at C103 (formerly the Catalyst Theatre) on Oct. 12, the Quasar Saxophone Quartet at Muttart Hall on Nov. 14, and a trio featuring soprano Stacie Dunlop, also at Muttart Hall, on Jan. 17. Ensemble Transmission are at Muttart Hall on Feb. 21. Next year the organization will step things up with the NME Festival of New Music, featuring R. Murray Schafer, on March 2023 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. Holy Trinity will also host the collective thingNY on April 26, while NME is still looking for a venue for a program of contemporary music curated by mezzosoprano Michelle Milenkovic. It takes place on May 17. The final concert of the year takes place at Muttart Hall, with the Bozini Quartet on June 7.
In addition to working with the ESO on the Messiah (Dec. 6-7) and The Miraculous Mandarin (May 2-3), the Richard Eaton Singers start their season on Nov. 11 with a Winspear Remembrance Day concert featuring the Fauré Requiem and a variety of shorter works on the Remembrance Day theme. They team up on March 9 with Alberta Baroque Ensemble for the Bach Mass in B Minor at the Winspear, with help from soloists Jolaine Kerley, Jennifer Enns-Modolo, Derek Chester and Michael Kurschat.
Other organizations to check out include Kanata Winds, Cantilon Choirs, Edmonton Chinese Philharmonic, Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus, EsQuire Alberta Men’s Chorus, Festival City Winds and Kokopelli.
Edgar Meyer plays with the ESO in November.
Eileen Ivers takes part in A Celtic Journey in March.
The Greenwood Singers: Christmas concerts Dec. 8 and 9
Pianist Sara Davis Buechner will perform Jan. 21 at the Winspear as part of the Edmonton Recital Society’s season.