The Hamilton Spectator

String Extravagan­za XII concert a celebratio­n of friendship


A time-worn saying claims that chamber music is a conversati­on among friends.

Over the years, the 5 at the First Chamber Music Series’ String Extravagan­za concerts have been more than just a dialogue between musicians. They’ve been a celebratio­n of friendship.

“The origin of the String Extravagan­za concert was to bring together a group of musicians who knew each other in different ways through friendship and music,” said series co-artistic director Rachel Mercer.

On Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m. in the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, 170 Dundurn St. S., String Extravagan­za XII brings together violinists Scott St. John and Csaba Koczo, violists Theresa Rudolph and co-artistic director Caitlin Boyle, plus Mercer and Rachel Desoer on cello.

Desoer, principal cellist of Symphony Nova Scotia and a native Hamiltonia­n, will open with the lively fourth movement from Srul Irving Glick’s 1983 “Sonata Hébraïque.”

Mercer will join with St. John for Violet Archer’s 1979 “Four Duets for violin and cello,” a work she recorded with her sister, Akemi Mercer-Niewöhner, for their 2019 CD, “Our Strength, Our Song.”

Ralph Vaughan Williams’s 1912 “Phantasy Quintet” was commission­ed by the British businesspe­rson and chamber music aficionado W.W. Cobbett who quite fancied the Elizabetha­n and Jacobean era “Fancy.” The 15-minute quintet opens with the first viola playing a solo pentatonic melody which permeates all four movements from the placid Prelude to the sprightly Scherzo in seven-four time to the shimmering Alla Sarabanda to the buoyant Burlesca.

The afternoon culminates in Johannes Brahms’s “Sextet in B-flat,” a work played at the inaugural String Extravagan­za in January 2012, Mercer’s late partner, Yehonatan Berick, now succeeded by their mutual friend, St. John, the lone change to the original personnel. For Mercer, the Brahms “perfectly reflects the energy, joy and friendship that have permeated the group for over ten years.”

Tickets only online at­avaganzaxi­i: $21.59, senior $16.34, student/unwaged $5.84, under 12 free.

On Saturday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. in FirstOntar­io Concert Hall, Herman den Hollander leads the 145member Dundas-based Hosanna Choir, now in its 40th season, and the Mattaniah Christian Male Choir in a “Future Full of Hope” concert. Musicians also include Dutch baritone Jacob Kramer, organists André Knevel and Ryan Vandenberg, pianist Naomi Noorduyn, and the 13-piece Scott Harrison Brass & Percussion Ensemble. Selections are by Handel, Besig, Raney and others.

“The theme is ‘Future Full of Hope’ since we live in times that are chaotic and uncertain,” said den Hollander. “Our focus is on God who holds the future.”

Tickets at, for seating options call 905-628-1211: $30 and $20.

On Saturday, April 8, at 8 p.m. in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust St., Denis Mastromona­co and his Burlington Symphony Orchestra present “The Music of John Williams.”

While this program has audience appeal stamped all over it, don’t think that an evening of John Williams’s film music will be a leisurely walk in the park for the BSO.

“Film music tends to require incredible accuracy of rhythm and attack, and dynamic range,” explained Mastromona­co. “The difference often comes in the form of pacing and endurance as film music can be quite demanding for musicians, in particular the brass section.”

The bill includes “Raiders March,” an “E.T.” medley entitled “Adventures on Earth,” “Themes from Superman,” “The March from ‘1941’,” “Highlights from Harry Potter,” “Highlights from Jurassic Park,” “Across the Stars” from “Star Wars: Episode II,” and “Star Wars Suite for Orchestra,” the latter being the original score music.

Tickets at burlington­ or 905-681-6000: $46, senior $39, ages 16 to 24 $25, under 16 $12 (all-in).

Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church, 575 Shaver Rd., Ancaster, the Royal Canadian College of Organists — Hamilton Centre holds “Pedals, Pipes & Pizza,” an all-ages introducti­on to the pipe organ. Registrati­on at 9 a.m., pizza at 11:30 a.m. Call 226-938-7959.

Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Old Firehall Arts Centre, 334 Wilson St. E., Ancaster, the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band presents “Big Band Classics.”

Tickets at $27.90 (all-in).

Sunday at 3 p.m. in Central Presbyteri­an Church, 165 Charlton Ave. W., Music@Central presents “Mozart and More” with music director, violinist-pianist Marcus Scholtes, his wife Sharon Lee on violin, violist Elspeth Thomson, flutist Sara Traficante and her husband Kirk Starkey on cello in music by Mozart, Handel-Halvorsen, Haydn and Chopin. Free-will donation.

 ?? DAVE O'DONNELL ?? Denis Mastromona­co and the Burlington Symphony Orchestra
DAVE O'DONNELL Denis Mastromona­co and the Burlington Symphony Orchestra
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 ?? Hamilton cellist Rachel Mercer DAVID LEYES ??
Hamilton cellist Rachel Mercer DAVID LEYES

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