Saturday, November 27, 2010

Niagara Symphony presents Vivaldi's Four Seasons this weekend

Hard to believe we are just about at the end of November already! No snow yet, but that doesn't appear to be deterring people from getting into the Christmas spirit, so that is good to see. I'm not quite there yet, but I am getting there. One or two more Christmas bazaars this weekend and I might be in the Christmas spirit officially...

Now, one way to celebrate the season and in fact, every season, is to attend the second Masterworks concert for the Niagara Symphony, coming up Sunday afternoon at 2:30 at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at the Centre for the Arts, Brock University. This concert is a big deal on a number of levels. First, we welcome Associate Conductor Laura Thomas back to the podium for performances of Glenn Buhr's Akasha and the wonderful Symphony No. 41 by Mozart, the so-called "Jupiter" symphony. But we also welcome a young violinist and guest conductor, a mainstay at the Shaw Festival for many seasons, and of course, the annual silent auction tables in the lobby.

Laura always does great work with the Symphony, and I am always happy to hear what she can do in the Masterworks concerts in addition to her more frequent appearances in the Pops! series. She'll be joined this weekend by young violinist Julia Wedman, who was in town just last Friday evening at Robertson Hall for the launch of the new CD by the Eybler Quartet, of which she is a member. The CD, incidentally, featuring music by Mozart and Backofen, is a sheer delight to listen to, and is featured in my November Fine Music Newsletter, as well as on my website at You can order a copy of the disc through my website or by simply emailing me directly at

Julia is on a leave from her full-time position with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, so she can spend some time travelling the world. But she stops in St. Catharines this weekend to perform and guest-conduct the Vivaldi Four Seasons, Op. 8 with the Niagara Symphony. Julia told me last week at the recital at Robertson Hall the violinist doesn't necessarily need to go through all the traditional gestures the conductor normally does to conduct the orchestra while playing; eye contact or even a head nod is often all that is required, so we'll see how it all comes together this Sunday afternoon.

Joining Julia and the Niagara Symphony is narrator Sharry Flett, a long-time member of the Shaw Festival acting ensemble, who will be reading a sonnet attributed to Vivaldi that subsequently inspired him to write the music for The Four Seasons. I must admit, I have never heard the sonnets before, so this will help make a very-familiar classical piece appear fresh and new again. The Four Seasons, of course, is a four-part work that has become in the last 70 years or so Vivaldi's most famous work, and certainly one of the most famous classical works, period. Adding Sherry's narration to the mix changes the whole complexion of the work for many, I suspect, and adds a new dimension to this popular work.

I have always been a fan of Sherry: her work at Shaw is always solid and interesting, and years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing her for a theatre production in Toronto where she quite simply captivated me with her charm and grace. What a lady! Can't wait to hear what she does tomorrow afternoon.

Finally, the annual silent auction fundraiser for the Niagara Symphony is also part of the afternoon's proceedings, taking up every available table in the lobby before the concert and at intermission, so you can peruse the offerings and hopefully bid often on many items in time for Christmas. Just think how much Christmas shopping you can do while supporting the Niagara Symphony! Since space will be at a premium in the lobby, I won't have my usual table set up for this concert, unfortunately, but I will be there for the concert, and if anyone has any musical enquiries about the music or any other musical question about something you're looking for, be sure to stop me in the lobby and I can take down the information for when I get back into the office.

Still don't have your tickets yet? The Brock box office can set you up by calling 905-688-5550, ext. 3257, or you can pick them up at the door prior to the concert.

Enjoy the show!

November 27th, 2010.

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