Sunday, September 22, 2019

Season 72 about to start for the Niagara Symphony Orchestra

If you need any more reminders the summer season is ending fast (autumn in fact arrives about 3:50 tomorrow morning around these parts...) you need look no further than the number of fall & winter concert seasons about to get underway.  Earlier this month I wrote about the Bravo! Niagara season getting underway just under a month from now, and others are set to begin their seasonal programming shortly as well.

But today, let's look at the beginning of the new Niagara Symphony season, their 72nd, which happens this afternoon in Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.  The word that comes to me with this season opener is symmetry.

It's been awhile since I've attended a Niagara Symphony concert, and I really don't know why.  It just seems to slip by me when I am looking at what's coming up of interest.  Not that I am wanting for musical stimulation these days but what are you going to do?

This year I resolve to do better...

So, on to today's Masterworks 1 concert, featuring Maestro Bradley Thachuk and guest artist, Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman, the NSO will feature two mainstays of the concert repertoire from the late 19th century:  Brahms epic Symphony No. 1 and Dvorak's Cello Concerto.  Both have been performed by the NSO in the past, of course, but the Brahms symphony not since 2012 and the Dvorak Cello Concerto not since 1991.  That was over 25 years ago with another Canadian cellist of note, Ofra Harnoy...yikes!  I think I remember attending that concert!

It's interesting the Dvorak comes up again today along with the memory of Ofra Harnoy, especially since Ofra will be making a rare return appearance to Niagara later this fall in a recital for Bravo! Niagara.


I have memories of the Cello Concerto that go back even further, in fact, as I had for many years an old Angel LP of the concerto performed by the late, great cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, which I really have to see if I can find again sometime...

Rounding out the programme today will be Canadian composer and violinist Alice Hong's work known as Phoenix.  She appeared along with Cameron Crozman on CBC's 2018 "30 under 30" list of classical musicians.  Bradley notes the work deals with the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, as in this case of seeking new beginnings.  For Maestro Thachuk, this season marks the tenth anniversary with the orchestra, which I find hard to believe.  Where has the time gone?!


The Symphony No. 1 was Brahms' first large scale work, and the Cello Concerto was Dvorak's final solo work.  Again quoting Maestro Thachuk, "the historical friendship between Dvorak and Brahms is quite well documented; Brahms was a champion of Dvorak's and the two composers shared similar views towards composition in the late 19th century."  So the two works and composers do go together like hand to glove, as it were.

Today's concert, entitled Jewels in the Crown, is presented in Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre beginning at 2:30 pm.  For tickets, call or visit the box office at the PAC or go to their website at  The phone number is 905-688-0722.

You can also see the entire season and find more information at the NSO's website at

Also coming up this week is a free lecture by Music Director Bradley Thachuk in the Mills Room of the Central Branch of the St. Catharines Public Library on Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm.  The lecture and discussion will compare two well-known symphonies written in the Classical style despite being written over 120 years apart:  Haydn's Symphony No. 104, the "London" and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, the "Classical".  Despite the difference in time period the two share many similarities all the while highlighting the progress of music from the Classical era of Haydn to the early 20th century of Prokofiev.

Should be a great discussion and I might even try to join it myself on Tuesday afternoon...

Have a great weekend!

September 22nd, 2019.

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