The Hamilton Spectator
HPO’S 2017-2018 SEASON
Variety, they say, is the spice of life. And there’s variety and spice aplenty with something for everyone in the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2017-2018 season.
“Every time someone walks into the FirstOntario Concert Hall, we want them to enjoy an evening that has a clear theme, or message, or style that they can resonate with, and every piece on the program comes together in a unifying way,” said HPO music director Gemma New in conversation with The Hamilton Spectator at the concert hall’s mezzanine level on Monday. “So, every program here has a different character, a different country. And yet, if you look in the program, the pieces are sometimes very familiar, some of them are a little bit more challenging, or just a new experience. Then when we look out at the entire season, I think we looked for a bit of everything, so that we can reach out to as many people in Hamilton as we possibly can.”
The new season opens on Saturday, Sept. 23 with New leading an all-Russian program consisting of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol,” Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto” with Canadian violinist and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra concertmaster Martin Chalifour as soloist, the “Polovtsian Dances” from Alexander Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor,” and Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 “Firebird Suite.”
Italian-born, St. Petersburg, Russia-based conductor Fabio Mastrangelo, who classical music fans may remember from the Brott Music Festival in 2013 and earlier, returns to Hamilton on Oct. 21 to lead a “Best of Italian Opera” bill with hits by Rossini, Verdi, and Puccini featuring Russian soprano Yana Kleyn and Canadian tenor John MacMaster.
On Nov. 11, New and the HPO acknowledge Remembrance Day and Hamilton’s history with a “Hamilton Remembers” concert. HPO composer-in-residence Abby Richardson-Schulte’s “Fanfare,” a short work commissioned for Canada Mosaic, a Canada 150 Signature Project, will be premièred. HPO principal trumpet Mike Fedyshyn will be the soloist in John Estacio’s “Trumpet Concerto,” another Canada Mosaic work. After intermission, it’s Mozart’s ubiquitous “Requiem” with the Bach Elgar Choir, the Kitchener-based Grand Philharmonic Choir and soloists Shannon Mercer, Julie Nesrallah, Lawrence Wiliford, and John Fanning.
Guest conductor Lucas Waldin returns for a Home for the Holidays show on Dec. 16 with guest vocalist and Juno nominee Heather Bambrick and the Bronze Foundation Handbell Choir.
The acrobats, aerialists and cirque performers of Cirque de la Symphonie return on Jan. 20, 2018, with Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser guesting on the podium.
Canadian superstar violin virtuoso James Ehnes will be the soloist in Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto” on Feb. 17 with New leading the HPO in Christos Hatzis’s “Zeitgeist” and Beethoven’s “Eroica Symphony.”
New returns one month later, on March 17, for a “Gemma conducts Haydn” bill featuring HPO concertmaster Stephen Sitarski, principal cello Jack Mendelsohn, principal oboe Graham Mackenzie, and principal bassoon Eric Hall in the “Sinfonia concertante” by Franz Joseph Haydn. That composer’s “Symphony no. 88” plus music by Clementi and Mozart round out the bill.
He’s ba-ack. Yup, New’s predecessor, Jamie Sommerville, comes back on Thursday, April 19, for Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Concert Romanesc,” Bela Bartok’s “Third Piano Concerto” with soloist Conrad Tao, and Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.”
Longtime HPO timpanist Jean Norman Iadeluca and sidekick Ernie Porthouse on the snare drum take the spotlight in the première of Ron Royer’s “Dance Suite for Timpani, Drum Set and Orchestra” on the season-closing May 12 concert. New also conducts Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo,” Arturo Marquez’s “Danzon no. 2,” and, in a nod to Leonard Bernstein’s centenary, the Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.”
Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 Mainstage season can be purchased in 3-,5-, 7-, or 9-concert packages. Subscribers can also add the HPO’s Family concert tickets to their subscription packages. The first of those two concerts, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf ” is on Oct. 14, and the second, “Pinocchio,” is on Feb. 3. Both take place at Mohawk College’s McIntyre Performing Arts Centre. Single tickets go on sale on July 1. And according to HPO executive director Diana Weir, there are no price increases next season. That’s music to everyone’s ears. Call 905-526-7756 or visit hpo.org.