July 10, 2020

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Beginning with a bang

Violinist Itzhak Perlman launches WSO's 70th anniversary season Saturday night

Mark J. Terrill / The Associated Press</p><p>A sold-out audience at the Centennial Concert Hall will ring in the WSO’s 70th anniversary tonight and welcome violinist Itzhak Perlman, one of the most celebrated figures in classical music.</p></p>

Mark J. Terrill / The Associated Press

A sold-out audience at the Centennial Concert Hall will ring in the WSO’s 70th anniversary tonight and welcome violinist Itzhak Perlman, one of the most celebrated figures in classical music.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/9/2017 (1028 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Among the most glittering stars — and there are many — in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s musical galaxy this season is legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. The 72-year old Israeli-American artist takes the Centennial Concert Hall stage tonight at 7:30 to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, with the gala opener led by maestro Alexander Mickelthwate. It’s a stellar launch to the WSO’s 70th season being celebrated all year long that has had the local music community buzzing for months.

"I’m as excited as everyone else. It’s quite thrilling to have a musician of his stature appearing in Winnipeg," Mickelthwate says of the long sold-out concert in an interview. "It’s a real coup to get him here."

The multi-award winning artist has been in the public eye since first performing on Ed Sullivan’s Caravan of Stars at the age of 13. He has performed with every major orchestra in the world after marking his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963, launched his own conducting career in the early 2000s, and rocketed to even greater fame after performing John Williams’ heart-stopping score for the 1993 film Schindler’s List.

"Itzhak Perlman is someone we have all looked up to as young violinists, because his sincerity and authenticity touches that part of what we all have — the human experience," Brandon-based violinist Kerry DuWors says over the phone, adding she has heard the New York City-based artist perform now "several times" throughout the years. "Your heart just bursts whenever you hear him, because you get to share in this incredible moment that lives in your mind forever. And hearing him perform one of the greatest pillars of the solo violin repertoire is also a dream come true."

SUPPLIED</p><p>Brandon University professsor and violinist Kerry DuWors.</p>


Brandon University professsor and violinist Kerry DuWors.

DuWors knows of what she speaks. The Brandon University music professor performs the same 40-minute piece with the WSO Sunday, 3 p.m. at Brandon’s Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium. "It’s a larger-scale work that goes through the violin’s full range of technique and expression," she explains. "The writing is just so beautiful, and I’m honoured to be performing it in my hometown this weekend."

History also comes alive next month when former WSO maestro Victor Feldbrill (1958-68) returns to the podium for Happy 70th WSO!, to guest-conduct Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 on Oct. 13 and 14. The WSO approached the 93-year old maestro and member of the Order of Canada to lead the official season opener after he led the Toronto Symphony Orchestra last spring — ever still a hard-working, dedicated musician.

"Many people here remember him quite fondly, and so to have this historic link to the past is awesome," Mickelthwate enthuses of crossing batons with Feldbrill, who was the WSO’s second maestro and is credited for transforming it into a professional-calibre orchestra.

Another popular former WSO music director, Bramwell Tovey (1989-2001), and a co-architect of the 26-year old Winnipeg Music Festival with composer Glenn Buhr, returns to his former stomping grounds with the touring Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and guest artist, Brandon-born violinist James Ehnes, to perform Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 on May 23.

And speaking of the the new music festival, towering minimalist pioneer Philip Glass premières his new String Quartet No. 8 with the Jack Quartet on Feb. 1, and will perform his Complete Piano Etudes, Jan. 28. The WSO also gives the Canadian première of Glass’s Symphony No. 11 on Jan. 27, while his haunting choral works will be heard Jan. 29, sung by local choirs Polycoro and Camerata Nova.

"Philip Glass is one of the most important and influential composers of the late 20th century," says festival curator Matthew Patton. "(He) is very selective about where he chooses to perform so this is a major artistic coup for the Winnipeg New Music Festival."

The WSO’s annual fall festival returns, with this year’s dramatically titled Angels and Demonsbeing presented Oct. 27 through Nov. 4, featuring music by Beethoven, Liszt, Gorecki and Kurt Weill. Soviet-born maestro Daniel Raiskin leads the opening concert Beethoven, Chopin and a Sorrowful Song on Oct. 27 and 28, showcasing Russian dynamo pianist Natasha Paremski and Canadian soprano Nathalie Paulin, with Paremski also treating audiences to a solo recital on Oct. 30.

Film buffs will notice a new movie series this year, on the heels of the WSO’s hugely successful run of past films including Singin’ in the Rain and Pirates of the Caribbean with the orchestra led WSO resident conductor Julian Pellicano. This year’s offerings include Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Nov. 25 and 26, Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece City Lights, Feb. 16 and 17 and the classic The Wizard of Oz, April 21 and 22.

For kids of all ages, five lively shows will be performed throughout the season, including Winnipeg’s own wild and wacky Al Simmons on April 8.

And hallelujah! The newly minted WSO Chorus under the baton of John Wiens also launches with Handel’s Messiah, Dec. 15 and 16.

"Every year the WSO tries something new, and this year they wanted to put together an in-house chorus to sing the Messiah," Wiens says via email. "With an all-Manitoban cast of singers, it will be something special to look forward to."

Soulful Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell also celebrates the season on Dec. 12, while local soprano Lara Ciekiewicz performs March 23-25 in a pair of concerts marking the 200th anniversary of the St. Boniface Cathedral, joined by the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir.

Other highlights include Italian pianist Luca Buratto, 2015 laureate of the Honens International Piano Competition (April 6 and 7), swoon-inducing the Tenors (Dec. 8 and 9), and Cape Breton fiddler extraordinaire Ashley MacIsaac (Oct. 20-22).

The WSO’s platinum season also marks two more auspicious milestones. WSO concertmaster Gwen Hoebig celebrates her 30th year with the orchestra — she was first appointed in 1987 — and is now regarded among the longest serving concertmasters of a major Canadian orchestra. She will treat listeners to J.S. Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins performed with associate concertmaster Karl Stobbe on March 9 and 10.

And that same concert also promises to be a personal highlight for Mickelthwate, now in his 12th and final season with the WSO, before assuming his new position as music director for the Oklahoma Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2018. He will lead the musicians he describes as "extended family" through Bruckner’s mighty Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

"My personal highlights will be every concert that I’m conducting this year, but I am really looking forward to leading Bruckner’s most personal, painful and also glorious symphony," the German-born conductor states, adding that this season will also be bittersweet for him as he prepares to leave Winnipeg next summer. "We are looking to the past with this year’s fantastic new season, as well as to the future and I can’t wait for it to begin."

For further information on the WSO’s 2017-18 line-up, visit wso.ca.



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