Esprit Orchestra Announces 35th Anniversary Season

Esprit Orchestra Announces 35th Anniversary Season

October 2017 will mark the beginning of Esprit Orchestra's 35th Anniversary Season.

With an emphasis on Canadian content, three World Premieres, and Canadian Premieres of works by leading international composers, the 2017/18 season strongly reflects the dynamic artistic vision that has always been at the core of Esprit's programming. Founding Music Director & Conductor, Alex Pauk and the orchestra will be joined by outstanding guest soloists throughout the season, including Canadian violinist Véronique Mathieu, soprano Shannon Mercer, and the Japanese taiko drumming ensemble, Nagata Shachu. All concerts take place at 8:00 pm at Koerner Hall, and are preceded by engaging pre-concert talks with the composers and musicians. Concert dates are: October 15, 2017; November 19, 2017; February 11, 2018; April 15, 2017.

Esprit's opening concert, an all-Canadian program titled Eternal Light, takes place on October 15, 2017. Drawing listeners into an enchanted realm of expressive intensity and exotic beauty, the concert features Colin McPhee's Tabuh-Tabuhan, always a favourite with Esprit audiences. In this work for large orchestra, inspired by Balinese gamelan music, McPhee magically adapts gamelan motifs and rhythms to create musical forms ranging from symphonic surges with powerful rhythmic drive to atmospheric, dream-like meditations. Eternal Light opens with Christopher Goddard's Spacious Euphony. From its beginning, this vast musical arch builds in energy and exuberance to transform itself into a fanfare for the start of the concert as well as the celebration of Esprit's season. Claude Vivier's Siddhartha, the composer's largest and most profound orchestral work, will receive its Toronto premiere on the concert. Based on Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha, this other-worldly work of awe-inspiring monumentality "inhabits a twilight realm between reality and the imagination" and encompasses every musical aspect of the mystical and spiritual explorations that consumed the now world-renowned Vivier's life.

November 19, 2017 marks the second concert of Esprit's 2017/18 season, titled after Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason's piece, Emergence. This work sweeps listeners up in a kind of dayream that reflects Bjarnason's wide-ranging experience working in pop and classical new music. Violinist Véronique Mathieu returns to the Esprit stage after her spellbinding performance at the end of last season to perform as guest soloist in the Canadian premiere of Marc-André Dalbavie's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Just a stranger here myself..., a work by Doug Schmidt previously commissioned and premiered by Esprit, will have its second performance. The piece explores Schmidt's unique take on what it means to be 'home'. Finally, Ana Sokolovic's Ringelspiel is an evocative depiction of childhood, inspired by the merry-go-round.

Plug In, on February 11, 2017, will allow the audience to experience the technological progression of the telephone through music. Hear My Voice by Toronto-based composer, Eugene Astapov, was commissioned and premiered by Esprit in spring 2017, as part of Creative Sparks, Esprit's annual mentoring/education program. The piece incorporates the very first recordings of Alexander Graham Bell's voice on the first telephone, out of Brantford, Ontario in 1876. From the historic origin of the telephone to the modern day smart phone, Chinese composer Tan Dun's Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds will include audience participation in creating sound via an app on their phones. The February program also features the Canadian Premiere of Korean composer, Unsuk Chin's Mannequin, and the World Premiere of a commissioned work titled Lilt by Canadian composer, Matthew Ricketts.

The season ends on April 15, 2017 with Taiko Plus!, a program that includes Maki Ishii's spectacular, electrifying Mono-Prism, combining Toronto's Japanese taiko drumming ensemble, Nagata Shachu with Esprit. In keeping with the Asian threads running through our season and maintaining strong musical relations with China, Esprit will give the Canadian premiere of Chinese composer Fuhong Shi's Concentric Circles. World Premieres of two new works by Canadian composers are also on this program. Esprit will premiere a new work for soprano Shannon Mercer and orchestra by Chris Paul Harman. Scott Wilson's new work, Dark Matter, will transform scientific data from the CERN Large Hadron Collider into orchestral and electronic sound as well as video graphics.

In addition to the subscription concert series, Esprit will be expanding education and outreach programming in major ways for the 2017/18 season. The cornerstone project this season will be Ontario Resonance, a free student mentorship program to mark the 150th Anniversary of Ontario. Running from September to November, the program focuses on the creation of new music by students with the theme of Ontario places, sounds, and cultural ties. Professional composers will mentor students in seven schools in the GTA region, providing them with hands-on performance and composition opportunities. The program incorporates multiple artistic disciplines, and includes students from diverse backgrounds. Each participating school will host a concert in November, during which the students' compositions will be performed by a combination of student musicians and members of Esprit Orchestra.

Ontario Resonance Mentor Composers have been commissioned by Esprit to compose short pieces under the same Ontario theme as their students. These pieces will all be premiered at the Ontario Resonance finale concert on November 23, 2017 at Trinity St. Paul's Church. This concert will be free of charge and open to the general public.

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