Good as Gould

To kick off its 65th season, WSO releases three CDs, including Glenn Gould's first performance of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1


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After a decade-long absence, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has returned to the recording studio.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/09/2012 (3657 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After a decade-long absence, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has returned to the recording studio.

And to kick off its 65th season, the WSO has teamed up with a classical music genius and international superstar. Sort of.

One of the highlights of opening weekend (Sept. 21-22) is the launch of three limited-edition CDs, including a live recording of the WSO with eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould — from Oct. 8, 1959.

CP Glenn Gould


The CD, which Winnipeggers can purchase for $20 (taxes included), features Gould’s first performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

“It’s a classic collector’s edition,” says WSO executive director Trudy Schroeder. “You can’t find it anywhere else, you can’t buy it anywhere else — only the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will have this CD release.”

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Gould’s birth (on Sept. 25, 1932) and the 30th anniversary of his death. As a tribute, Sony Music recently released a six-CD boxed set, Glenn Gould in Concert 1951-1960, pulled together from different archives, which does include his collaboration with the WSO.

But the orchestra wanted to honour Canada’s pre-eminent musician of the 20th century independently by reissuing the historic recording, Schroeder says.

It was then-conductor Victor Feldbrill, who studied with Gould at the University of Toronto, who brought the piano prodigy to Winnipeg as a guest artist. The legacy of that visit is a must-have for Gould fans, she says.

“This was a huge talent. He was just one of those brilliant and riveting performers that you really do see maybe once in a generation.”


The WSO’s other two CDs, both recorded in 2011, are Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 and Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. Those special recordings will not be sold publicly, Schroeder says, but rather will be given as thank-yous to WSO supporters who make a donation of $100 or more. Donors who contribute more than $200 will receive both CDs.

A fourth CD, featuring recordings from the WSO’s Dec. 2 Mennonite Concertos concert, will be sold publicly, and in time for Christmas.

The last time the WSO released a CD, according to Schroeder, was a self-produced collection of holiday music in the early 2000s.

“It’s actually quite embarrassing,” she says. “Right now we’re working on a project to figure out if we can actually do soundtracks for Hollywood films. They want CDs to find out what our orchestra sounds like and we have a Christms CD from 2000? That’s a little ridiculous.”

The new CDs are also in line with the WSO’s goal to increase its endowment fund by at least $650,000 or more in the 2012-2013 season, boosting the current total to $5 million. The federal government, through the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, will provide an 80-cents match for every dollar donated to the WSO Endowment Fund from now until mid-November.

In other WSO season-opener news, on Sept. 21 music director Alexander Mickelthwate will be presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Joyce Bateman, member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre.

Opening night will also feature a post-concert Dust off the Dress! reception. Members of Soundcheck, a program to make the symphony accessible and appealing to the under-30 crowd, will be able to meet Mickelthwate and enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a wine tasting, and jazz music.

Glenn Gould performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 1959, conducted by Victor Feldbrill, centre.

The WSO will open the season with Richard Strauss’s vivid Don Juan. Russian-born pianist Natasha Paremski will follow with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 will close the evening.


Tickets range from $23.75 to $92 at Ticketmaster or at the WSO box office at (204) 949-3999. For the WSO’s full 2012-2013 season lineup, go to



Maestro’s picks



HERE are WSO music director Alexander Mickelthwate’s picks for the WSO’s 65th season:


“Don Juan is the most powerful opener ever written. Beethoven 7, a true masterwork, has a finale that will bring the house down.”

Stravinsky Rite of Spring — “This is one of my top three pieces of music ever, especially with the new choreography of contemporary dance and the indigenous elements.”

Mahler 7 — “A first in Winnipeg, it’s quirky and passionate, using guitar, mandolin and cow bells to imitate cow herds in the alps.”

Ben Heppner special — “I’m honoured to be working with one of the world’s most famous singers.”


Beethoven 9 — “It’s the ultimate masterpiece and prayer for peace, with its message of true brotherhood and joy.”

Barenaked Ladies — “I love the Big Bang Theory.”

Beyond the Score — Vivaldi 4 Seasons is “the highly successful series from the Chicago Symphony.”

Learn about Gould

HE has been called a “philosopher of music,” a child prodigy who grew to become one of the most influential and celebrated musicians of the 20th century.

But how much do you really know about the eccentric genius, classical pianist, writer, speaker, documentarian, composer, conductor and comedian (seriously) that was the late Glenn Herbert Gould?

“No doubt about it; that nut’s a genius,” Hungarian-born conductor George Szell famously said of Gould.

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conductor Alexander Mickelthwate

Now’s your chance to explore the many faces and facets of “Canada’s greatest gift to classical music” by taking local classical music advocate Don Anderson’s course at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music.

Glenn Gould, Genius runs Wednesdays, Oct. 3 to 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. A daytime class is also offered Tuesdays, Oct. 2 to 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Fee is $75. The classes take place at the Millennium Library. For more information, phone the MCMA at (204) 943-6090 or go online at

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