Artists mark important anniversaries

Rare performances and moving returns are part of this year's musical season


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Many arts organizations in the city are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which officially launched its 70th season last weekend.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/10/2017 (1930 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Many arts organizations in the city are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which officially launched its 70th season last weekend.

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Winnipeg Singers, both now in their 45th year, are joining forces to present a program of contemplative choral works inspired by “thanksgiving” and “remembrance.”

The concert, led by Winnipeg Singers artistic director Yuri Klaz on Nov. 7 at Westminster United Church, features a rare local performance of Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files Nonagenarian Victor Feldbrill, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra music director from 1958-68, rehearses with the orchestra before the WSO’s 70th birthday concert.

“I absolutely love this music, which is quite mysterious,” says the Russian-born Klaz of the atmospheric work he’ll be conducting for his first time.

“The audience is going to be captured right away and I think will be utterly amazed by its beauty.”

The Estonian composer’s music always seems to send listeners into a swoon.

Pärt’s bell-like minimalistic style known as “tintinnabuli,” which evokes the purity of Gregorian chant, is featured in such works as Fratres, Fur Alina, and Spiegel im Spiegel.

The latter piece has appeared as part of no fewer that 12 (and counting) film scores, including Wit (2001) and Heaven (2002).

Klaz will be leading an expanded ensemble of 24 singers divided into three smaller choirs, a string orchestra and Winnipeg Singers’ pianist Lisa Rumpel, with a pre-recorded tape seamlessly melding into the sonic texture throughout the 32-minute piece.

“Pärt’s music attracts a lot of attention,” Klaz explains.

“I chose it because I was fascinated by the way it’s structured. The forces he uses are quite dramatic, with a lot of chanting and chant-like parts in the choral lines.”

The Singers will also perform excerpts from Canadian composer Eleanor Daley’s Requiem, originally commissioned by a member of Toronto’s Elmer Iseler Singers in 1992, who had been nursing a terminally ill friend at that time.

Lest one believe that the soulful work inspired by the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass for the Dead is a darkly sombre tribute to the dearly departed, Klaz quickly dispels that notion.

“Daley’s point was to make this music beautiful and comforting, in the same way that Brahms did with his German Requiem,” he states of deeply moving, contemporary work being sung a cappella.

The evening rounds out with Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, premièred in 2008 and sung (mostly) in Latin.

When asked if there is a sense of transcendence, akin to, well the rising of the sun, the maestro replies immediately.

“Absolutely,” he says of the choral work performed with string orchestra.

“The music depicts a spiritual journey from childhood to adulthood and is very uplifting,” he states.

The 45th anniversary concert also marks another milestone for the tireless conductor — Klaz’s 15th year at the helm of the vocal group.

“I feel blessed with the opportunity to conduct the wonderful Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, combined with another wonderful group, the Winnipeg Singers,” Klaz humbly says of his latest show.

Arron Sivertson Winnipeg Singers artistic director Yuri Klaz will lead the Singers and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in a program on Nov. 7 that includes a rare local performance of Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum.

“All the pieces have their own identity but this particular combination makes me very happy. I hope that everyone who comes to hear this concert will also feel very inspired and very moved by this beautiful music,” he adds.

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Are there any words that capture the magic of seeing Victor Feldbrill lead the WSO?

The 93-year old conductor, who served as the WSO’s music director from 1958-68, formally opened the orchestra’s 70th season on Oct. 13 and 14, conducting Beethoven’s Leonore Overture.

Led onstage by current music director Alexander Mickelthwate to an immediate standing ovation, the decades simply fell away as Feldbrill dug into the music with the vigour of one just beginning his career, earning another rousing standing ovation.

The musicians’ reverence was palpable, as well.

Bravo to all involved for this golden moment.

The WSO also hosted the National Arts Centre Orchestra that performed an all-guns blazing concert on Oct. 19 as part of its ongoing Canada 150 tour.

There’s been a lot of buzz about its charismatic maestro Alexander Shelley since he assumed the NAC Orchestra’s baton from his predecessor Pinchas Zukerman in 2015.

The English-born conductor lived up to his reputation and more, leading 70 clearly impassioned players throughout the dynamic program.

I also heard Shelley deliver a fascinating talk hosted by Dean Edmund Dawe the next day at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, where he shared insights about musicianship and what it takes to make a go of it in today’s classical world.


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