When award-winning cellist Ani Aznavoorian launches into J.S. Bach’s G Major solo suite on May 29 to open the 44th Scotia Festival of Music, she will inaugurate the festival’s move to a brand-new venue, the Joseph Strug Concert Hall.
Located in the Dalhousie Arts Centre, the state-of-the-art facility, built with acoustic music in mind, the “Strug” will be the new home for the festival’s two weeks of chamber music concerts.
“The Strug is a brilliant new hall; its magnificent acoustics are made for the kind of music we present, and I can’t wait for our wonderful musicians and our devoted audiences to see and hear it,” says managing and artistic director Simon Docking. “Halifax is incredibly fortunate to have this extraordinary facility.”
Running from May 29 to June 11, Scotia Festival will welcome a mix of new and familiar artists, including New York violinist Jennifer Frautschi and Canadian pianist Philip Chiu, fresh off his 2023 Juno Award win, who will join a roster of Scotia Festival guest artists for the first time. In addition, the festival will see the return of cellists Ani Aznavoorian and Blair Lofgren, violinist Gwen Hoebig, and violists Marina Thibeault and Isaac Chalk, along with many others.
“This year’s lineup of artists and repertoire has fallen into place beautifully,” says Docking. “We have such an array of talent and a variety of programming. You’ll hear high-powered string players like violinist Gwen Hoebig, wonderful pianists like Phil Chiu, Andy Armstrong and Halifax’s own Peter Allen.”
Docking points to other highlights, including a Javanese gamelan percussion group, William Walton’s madcap piece Façade for jazz band and two vocalists reciting Edith Sitwell’s surreal poetry in lightning-fast rhythms.
“And, of course we’ll have about 40 stars of the future in our young artist program,” he says. “We’ve had the most applications in years, and the standard just keeps getting higher.”
Not that the festival has forgotten its roots as it will return to the Sir James Dunn Theatre, its principal venue for the past 40 years, for a closing orchestral gala. Under the baton of Dinuk Wijeratne, among the highlights include 60 musicians performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.
The 44th annual Scotia Festival of Music runs May 29 through June 11. Visit scotiafestival.com for tickets and information.