Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier suite evokes classic Vienna, ripe with waltzing, elegance and ingenuity. Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto demands musicality, virtuosity and folk spirit, and Kerson Leong delivers. Under the baton of Alexander Shelley, Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock’s My Name Is Amanda Todd brings a message of hope to the story of a teenage cyberbullying victim.
This concert is dedicated to the Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock who passed away on March 27th.
Podcast (French only)
Symphonic Tales is a series of podcasts by the Orchestre Métropolitain presented by Radio VM. These podcasts, hosted by musicologist Marilou Garon, offer an immersion into the works on the concert programs for the 2022-2023 season.
Premiered in Vienna on December 8, 1881, by Adolf Brodsky, conducted by Hans Richter
After the disastrous failure of his marriage with Antonina Miliukova, Tchaikovsky left on a trip that took him to Italy, France and Switzerland. It was during his travels that he heard Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra, which sparked in him the desire to write a work of his own for the solo instrument. And so was born the Violin Concerto, completed in 1879, one of the Tchaikovsky’s happiest compositions, alongside his ballets, the Souvenir de Florence sextet and the Serenade for Strings.
Tchaikovsky dedicated his concerto to the great Hungarian violinist and academic Leopold Auer (1845-1930), at the time an instructor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. As Auer harboured doubts about the concerto’s value, he declined the honour of premiering it. Having since become one of the most beloved in the violin repertoire, alongside those of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Sibelius, Tchaikovsky’s concerto transports us with its lyrical outpourings and stunning virtuosity.
The beginning of the work is unforgetable: after an orchestral introduction, the soloist enters a cappella in an improvised style. The violin continues alone until the moment when, accompanied by the orchestra, it voices the warm main theme of the first movement to impactful effect. The second movement is a sweet yet melancholy canzonetta (Italian for simple song or ditty) that can be played with or without a mute, the composer leaving the choice up to the soloist. The last movement is built on the rhythm of the trepak, a fast and spectacular Cossack dance. The work concludes in an irresistable whirl.
Premiered in Ottawa on May 19, 2016, by the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley
Jocelyn Morlock was a Vancouver-based Canadian composer. She had a doctorate in musical arts from the University of British Columbia and, between 2014 and 2019, was composer in residence with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, her piece My Name Is Amanda Todd won the JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year.
My Name Is Amanda Todd is a work for large orchestra written in homage to the eponymous 15-year-old, who took her own life after suffering cyber abuse and years of harassment at school. Before departing, Amanda posted a video in which used flash cards to speak out against the bullying she had experienced. My Name Is Amanda Todd evokes not only the teenager’s victimization but also the positive aspects of her life and personality.
“I wanted to include how bright and wonderful a person she was, rather than just [the idea that] she was a victim, because she was so much more than that.” – Jocelyn Morlock
Morlock used various compositional processes to tell Amanda’s story. For example, a simple motif that repeats and proliferates symbolizes the messages that circulated on social media. Taken together, they can produce negative effects, as conjured by the instruments’ growing cacophony. A solo drum depicts Amanda’s isolation while the energetic intervention of the brass represents her strength and courage in confronting the harm inflicted on her. As the piece unfolds, the tensions dissipate and, at the end, a glimmer of optimism and hope appears. My Name Is Amanda Todd is a moving, thought-proving work.
Suite premiered in New York City on October 5, 1944, conducted by Artur Rodzinski
Of the 15 operas composed by Richard Strauss, the fifth, Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose), remains the most popular. After the post-Wagnerian fury of his Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909), Strauss asked his collaborator, the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929), for a libretto that would be Mozartian in tone. Hofmannsthal provided him with a comedy of manners along the lines of Nozze di Figaro and set in Vienna around 1740.
Strauss surprised his admirers by composing an enchanting score filled with nods to the past. To conjure up a Vienna both eternal and timeless, he wove into his music many waltzes in homage to his Viennese homonyms, the “waltz kings” Johan Strauss, father and son, whom he greatly admired. The suite performed this evening was arranged, with Strauss’s approval, by the conductor Artur Rodzinski.
One of the foremost conductors of his generation, Alexander Shelley is ‘a natural communicator, both on and off the podium’ (the Daily Telegraph), regularly performing across six continents with the world’s finest orchestras and soloists.
A passionate and articulate advocate for the role of music in society, he has spearheaded multiple award-winning and ground-breaking projects unlocking creativity in the next generation and bringing symphonic music to new audiences.
With a conducting technique described as ‘immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality’ (Yorkshire Post), Alexander is known for the precision and integrity of his interpretations, for his creative programming and for the breadth of his repertoire, having led among other things, 36 major world premieres, highly praised cycles of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms symphonies, operas, ballets and innovative multi-media productions.
He collaborates with artists such as Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Daniel Hope, Itzhak Perlmamn, Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson alongside some of the finest orchestras of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia, including Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Helsinki, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Malaysian, Oslo, Rotterdam and Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestras and the São Paulo, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Munich, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand symphony orchestras.
In September 2015 Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, the youngest in its history. The ensemble has since been praised as ‘an orchestra transformed … hungry, bold, and unleashed’ (Ottawa Citizen) and his programming credited for turning the orchestra ‘almost overnight … into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.’ (Maclean’s Magazine).
In January 2015 Alexander also assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.
“It would be madness on the part of the musical world not to understand he is one of the great violinists of the 21st century.” – Augustin Dumay
Kerson Leong has been described as “not just one of Canada’s greatest violinists but one of the greatest violinists, period” (Toronto Star). Forging a unique path since his First Prize win at the International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition in 2010, he continues to win over colleagues and audiences alike with “a mixture of spontaneity and mastery, elegance, fantasy, intensity that makes his sound recognizable from the first notes” (Le Monde).
His recent album for Alpha Classics featuring the complete sonatas for solo violin by Eugène Ysaÿe was awarded the Diapason d’Or Découverte and the Choc de Classica, with Classica proclaiming him “more than a discovery, a veritable revelation” and Gramophone declaring that “his recording could be a happy first choice for any discerning listener”.
His 22/23 season includes solo performances with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Phiharmonic, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain, Les Violons du Roy and Symphony Nova Scotia among others, as well as a tour of Sweden with the Camerata Nordica. Highlights from past seasons include solo performances with such ensembles as the Royal, Oslo, Kansai, and Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the Singapore, Montreal, Vancouver, Stavanger, and Wuppertal Symphony Orchestras, a recital tour of the Midwestern United States, and recording John Rutter’s Visions with the composer himself and the Aurora Chamber Orchestra, after giving its world premiere in London, UK.
As a sought-after soloist, he was hand-picked by Yannick Nézet-Séguin to be his artist-in-residence with the Orchestre Métropolitain during the 18/19 season and has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Wigmore Hall, the Auditorium du Louvre and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. As a passionate chamber musician, he has performed at such international festivals and concert series as the Verbier Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Flâneries musicales de Reims, and Bergen International Festival among others.
Oleg Larshin, Concermaster
Johanne Morin, Associate Concertmaster
Marcelle Mallette, Assistant Concertmaster
Amélie Benoit Bastien
Nancy Ricard, Principal
Dominic Guilbault, Associate Principal
Lucie Ménard, Assistant Principal
Elvira Misbakhova, Principal
Pierre Tourville, Associate Principal
Julie Dupras, Assistant Principal
Christopher Best, Principal
Julien Siino, Associate Principal
Agnès Langlois, Assistant Principal
René Gosselin, Principal
Marc Denis, Associate Principal
Gilbert Fleury, Assistant Principal
Marie-Andrée Benny, Principal
Caroline Séguin, Principal Piccolo
Kirsten Zander, Principal
Mélanie Harel, Principal English Horn
Simon Aldrich, Principal
François Martel, Principal Bass Clarinet
Michel Bettez, Principal
Carmelle Préfontaine, Principal Contrabassoon
Louis-Philippe Marsolais, Principal
Antoine Mailloux, Principal
Patrice Richer, Principal
Trevor Dix, Principal Bass Trombone
Alain Cazes, Principal
Julien Bélanger, Principal
Alexandre Lavoie, Principal
Robin Best, Principal
Jennifer Bourdages, Principal
Thank you to all our donors who make it possible for our musicians to perform on stage.
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