Thursday, December 8, 2022

Russian composer’s music among concerts in Symphony Nova Scotia’s spring season

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto is one of seven concerts scheduled as part of the Symphony's upcoming line-up.

While arts organizations worldwide are cancelling or postponing performances by Russians in response to the war in Ukraine, here at home, Symphony Nova Scotia will continue with its planned concert of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto as part of its spring line-up.

[Tchaikovsky’s} music serves to remind us of the beauty and depth of centuries of Russian culture, that has been hijacked and violated by successive regimes in the 20th and, now, 21st centuries. – Holly Mathieson.

Halifax Presents reached out to Symphony Nova Scotia’s music director Holly Mathieson for additional comment about the concert featuring the Russian composer and others in the spring line-up but received no reply before publication.

However, in an email note to subscribers and on its website, Mathieson says that while the Symphony stands “unambiguously with Ukraine in this conflict,” they have agreed to proceed with the programme featuring Canadian violinist Blake Pouliot.

“All signs indicate this is Putin’s war, not Russia’s,” says Mathieson in the note. “We respect the Russian citizens, foreign artists, and politicians speaking out bravely and passionately in opposition.”

Citing Tchaikovsky’s suffering as a gay man during his life in conservative Russia, Mathieson goes on to say the composer “died long before Russia formed the Soviet Union, let alone before the Soviet Union collapsed – the alleged precursor to this current war.”

“His music serves to remind us of the beauty and depth of centuries of Russian culture, that has been hijacked and violated by successive regimes in the 20th and, now, 21st centuries,” says Mathieson. “We think that’s the most interesting and poignant story we can present to our audience in the shadow of war.”

The April 7 concert, which also includes traditional Mi’kmawaKo’juaua dances and Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony, is one of seven shows scheduled for the Symphony’s spring concert line-up.

Kicking things off on March 18 & 19, Halifax singer-songwriter Ben Caplan returns to perform with the Symphony for another orchestral mash-up, mixing his trademark blustery blend of folk, klezmer, and blues with Symphony Nova Scotia’s full orchestra. Highlights from this concert will be recorded and shared as a free online Fusion Sessions concert later in 2022.

Then on March 24, Mathieson will welcome audiences back to the Cohn with new work from Canadian composer Kati Agócs and Mozart’s Concerto for Horn No. 1 featuring Symphony Nova Scotia alumnus Jamie Sommerville. The concert will conclude with Beethoven’s blockbuster Seventh.

April is an equally busy month for the Symphony. First up, the Symphony pays tribute to “the High Priestess of Soul” Nina Simone in a concert with Nova Scotia’s own “reggae royalty,” Jah’Mila. Highlights from the show will be recorded and shared as a free online Fusion Sessions concert later in 2022.

A week later, Symphony Nova Scotia takes a journey back to 18th-century Europe with 1722: Bach’s World. Joining forces with baroque specialist Ivars Taurins, he will be joined by young local artists to explore Bach’s busy life in 1722.

On April 21, Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska returns to Symphony Nova Scotia for one of her signature specialties, Chopin’s First Piano Concerto. Plus, the Symphony presents the premiere from its latest Maria Anna Mozart Award winner, alongside a long-overdue salute to Fanny Mendelssohn, with her Overture in C.

The spring season ends with Canadian recorder virtuoso Vincent Lauzer in a May 1 concert featuring an array of compositions for this often-forgotten Baroque instrument.

For tickets and more information on Symphony Nova Scotia’s spring line-up, visit symphonynovascotia.ca.

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