Chicago Sinfonetta founder Paul Freeman dies in Victoria, British Columbia at the age of 79

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JULY 22, 2015 07:04 PM

CHICAGO – Paul Freeman, the founder of the Chicago Sinfonetta, is dead at age 79.

The Sinfonetta announced Freeman’s death on its website, saying the conductor had been fighting several ailments in recent years. He retired in 2011.

Sinfonetta director of operations Courtney Perkins says Freeman died late Tuesday in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife, Cornelia, and son, Douglas, at his side.

Freeman was born in Richmond, Virginia. He founded the Chicago Sinfonetta in 1987 as a mid-sized orchestra dedicated to promoting diversity and innovative programming.

In addition to classics, the orchestra performed music by minority composers. It also featured instruments considered offbeat for orchestras, including bagpipes, steel drums and sitars.

Perkins says Freeman’s family is planning a private ceremony in Victoria and a September public memorial service in Chicago.

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Let’s Dance! 26th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash focuses on dance music

Victoria, BC – July 6, 2015

The Victoria Symphony announced details of their 26th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash this morning, including the introduction of two young soloists who will perform on instruments that have never been featured on the barge stage: 18-year-old Rebecca Bracewell will play the accordion, and 16-year-old Ben Parker will perform on the trumpet.

Details about #splash2015 were revealed by Music Director Tania Miller at the Steamship Grill & Bar overlooking the Victoria Symphony Splash venue in the Inner Harbour.. “We want people to be so inspired by the beautiful music that they get up and dance,” said Miller as she told the audience that the concert’s theme would celebrate dance. “Whether it be kids playing around with movement or seniors dancing to a polka, we want to see people on their feet, enjoying the freedom of expression and movement that only music can inspire,” Miller continued.

This year’s program continues to build on the dance party theme created by the opening act, this year a combination of students from Vic High’s R & B Band and The Midnights. The dance party will start with the Midnights’ performance from 4 – 5:30 pm, and will continue when the orchestra takes the stage at 7:30 pm. From a Strauss Polka to Bizet’s Toréador Song, the program will keep people on their feet. “We’ve even included the Mexican Hat Dance!” exclaimed Miller. She hinted at a few surprises from street level as well, so stay tuned.

Continuing with the theme, one of this year’s Splash Young Soloists will play a tango with the orchestra. 18-year-old Rebecca Bracewell is one of two young soloists for the 26th Annual Splash, and will play Piazzolla’s Libertango on accordion. Bracewell was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at age three and has worn hearing aids ever since. While one might think such an immense obstacle would prevent her from becoming a musician, she rose to the challenge when she began playing the piano at age 7. A few years later Bracewell picked up an accordion, and has since won international competitions. Miller was ecstatic to include the accordion, an instrument not often associated with orchestral music and a first for Victoria Symphony Splash. She mentioned the Libertango was a perfect fit for the program this year, and thought it would show a fun side of the orchestra that might be new to people.

The second Splash Young Soloist, Ben Parker, will play Arutiuinian’s Trumpet Concerto. The virtuoso piece is a benchmark for trumpeters and Parker’s performance will mark the first time the trumpet has been played by a Splash Young Soloist. The launch audience of Splash sponsors, media and Band of Heroes was wowed as the two youth displayed their skills: Parker playing Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Fantasie and Variations on the Carnival of Venice and Bracewell Piazzolla’s Libertango. Even people walking the Inner Harbour stopped to listen to their talent.
The concert wraps up with the traditional finale, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” performed with fireworks, bells and cannons, concluding a spectacular evening of music.

At the launch, Victoria Symphony Executive Director Mitchell Krieger thanked sponsors and event partners of this year’s Splash. He announced that Thrifty Foods has come on board to be the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Splash, and the Province of British Columbia is now the Family Zone sponsor and the Volunteer Sponsor. The Victoria Symphony Splash Band of Heroes has raised over $23,000 to date. The new Splash Buttons were introduced, a collector’s item available for a $5.00 donation.

The Splash Family Zone will be on the Fairmont Empress grounds from 1 pm – 4 pm. Activities include the VS Instrument Petting Zoo, craft activities with Royal British Columbia Museum, Robert Bateman Centre, and Parks Canada, games with Sportball, a bouncy castle, face painting, clowns, and more!

The Splash Street Dance party tradition continue getting the party started at 4 pm. Local band The Midnights provide music from through the ages featuring the best dance music of the past 60 years!


The 26th annual Victoria Symphony Splash takes place on August 2, 2015. From the floating stage in Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, Maestra Tania Miller, the Victoria Symphony, The Midnights and 2015 Splash Young Soloists Ben Parker and Rebecca Bracewell will perform to an enthusiastic crowd of 40,000 people. The day begins at 1 pm with activities for families in the Splash Family Zone and ends with Victoria Symphony’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” at 9:45 pm accompanied by fireworks and cannons.

Ben II Rebecca II

 

Young Canadian piano superstar Jan Lisiecki returns to Victoria to play Ravel’s Concerto in G

Victoria, BC – Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jan Lisiecki returns to Victoria March 2 to play Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G in a concert that will feature conductor Andrew Grams in his Victoria debut. The evening concert also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” and Ana Sokolović’s Ringelspiel.

When Calgary-born Jan Lisiecki was just 9 years old, he made his first appearance with the Calgary Philharmonic. At 11, he played with Yo-Yo Ma, and by 15 he had an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Since these prodigal beginnings, Lisiecki, now 19, has built a major international career, including performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. Since January 2015, he will have completed transatlantic journeys twice: starting the year playing with the Seattle Symphony, he then toured a solo recital around Italy and alpine nations. At the end of March, he will play his first concert in the Arabian Gulf in Abu Dhabi. And fortunately for Victoria, Lisiecki has found a place for us this winter.

Lisiecki will play Ravel’s delightful and challenging Piano Concerto in G. Ravel wrote the concerto between 1929 and 1931, and was heavily influenced by jazz. The work, replete with jazz idioms and chords, uses dissonant harmonies and jazz instrument technique to create a classical piece reminiscent of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. While the concerto is an opportunity for the pianist to show off his technique, the work features many parts that accentuate the skill of orchestra members, particularly a haunting English horn duet with the piano in the second movement.

The concert will be led by conductor Andrew Grams in his Victoria debut. Grams began his musical education playing violin, which he played to earn a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Julliard, and went on to earn a conducting degree at the Curtis Institute. Since completing his education in 2003, Grams has led many orchestras around the word, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra London, and the Orchestre National de France, to name a few. Grams is in his second year as the Music Director of the Elgin (Illinois) Symphony Orchestra, his first such position. In addition to the Ravel concerto, Grams will lead the VS through Canadian composer Ana Sokolović’s Ringelspiel and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral.”

 

Pianist Stewart Goodyear Plays Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 for the first time in Victoria

Victoria, BC – Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On January 31 and February 1, superstar pianist Stewart Goodyear returns to Victoria to play Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2. VS Music Director Tania Miller leads the concert, which also includes a recent composition by Vancouver-based composer Jocelyn Morlock and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.

Stewart Goodyear was inspired to become a pianist at age three when he first heard Tchaikovsky and Grieg’s piano concertos. After starting formal piano lessons four years later, Toronto-born Goodyear completed studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Curtis Institute and Julliard respectively. Goodyear has performed with the world’s greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. While he is known as a Beethoven specialist, his repertoire is varied, from Bach to Liszt to Messiaen, and, as Victoria will find out January 31 and February 1, Brahms. This will be the first time Goodyear will perform the immense Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.

Brahms wrote his first piano concert at age 25, and it was quickly recognized as a work of genius. Twenty years later, he tried the genre again, and wrote what many consider to be the better work; better structured, better orchestrated and overall a more balanced work. Yet his Piano Concerto No. 2 is such an intense undertaking for all parties involved –including orchestra, conductor and soloist– that it is performed less than its popularity merits. While the solo piano part requires rigorous technique, the true genius of the concerto is the way Brahms wrote the solo as a voice within the greater work, creating a single artistic statement. Even the structure of the four-movement concerto belies the work’s classification as a concerto; really it can be considered a symphony with piano.

These concerts mark the second time Tania Miller will lead Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in Victoria, having last conducted the work in 2008, the last time this work was performed in Victoria. Also on the program is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, a Classical symphony demonstrating the composer’s brilliance. A work by BC composer Jocelyn Morlock, Music of the Romantic Era, opens the program.

As part of the new VS outreach program Behind the Music, there will be a free open rehearsal of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 at the University of Victoria on Wednesday, Janaury 28. Attendees will have the opportunity to sit on stage or behind the orchestra to see and hear exactly what happens at a professional rehearsal. More details and how to RSVP are available at www.victoriasymphony.ca/behindthemusic. Behind the Music is an special series including special preconcert Tania Talks by Music Director Tania Miller, open rehearsals, and other special events designed to enrich the concert experience.

VS Principal Trumpet Ryal Cole to Debut as Soloist

Victoria, BC – Thursday, November 20, 2014

VS Principal Trumpet Player Ryan Cole will make his debut as a soloist December 1, 2014 playing Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. Music Director Tania Miller will lead the tour-de-force concert that include Barber’s Adagio and Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony.

In his third year as Principal Trumpet of the Victoria Symphony, Saskatoon-born Ryan Cole began playing the trumpet in Grade Six because the trumpet allowed him to sit at the back of the classroom. Since then Cole has earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and has been playing “at the back” of various orchestras in Canada, including Regina, Montreal and Saskatoon. Cole is looking forward to playing at the front of the orchestra for a change next week playing the Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto. He first learned the concerto while completing his undergraduate degree, and says that “playing it now is completely different from then – it’s like I had to re-learn the piece” as his playing has changed so much since college. The concerto is a favourite among trumpet players as a virtuoso showpiece for the instrument. Cole will play the version including the cadenzas written by its first performer Timofei Dokschitzer.

In addition to Arutiunian’s work, the first half of the concert will feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3. The second half of the concert will be dedicated to the performance of Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 2 – A London Symphony. The work is an attempt, movement by movement, to capture the essence of a part of the great city. Premiered in 1914, the original score of the work was lost when it was en route to Germany at the start of World War I. Although a score was put together from the existing orchestra parts, Vaughan Williams continued to revise the piece to perfectly communicate his vision of London scenes, completing a version in 1920, and yet another in 1933 (published in 1936). Although Vaughan Williams wrote “This revised edition superseded the original [1920] version which should no longer be used” in his final revision, the original 1920 publication remains the most popular version, and is the one the Tania Miller will lead on December 1, 2014.

Tania Miller celebrates her 12th year as Music Director of the Victoria Symphony in 2014/15. The first woman to lead a major orchestra in Canada, Miller has introduced many creative projects focusing on new music, including an Emily Carr Festival featuring new five comissioned pieces about the Victoria native, and festivals dedicated to the music of John Cage and György Ligeti. In spring 2015, Miller will be leading the orchestra in a festival featuring the music of Irish/English composer Gerald Barry. The first festival in North Amarica to focus on him, the Barry Festival will include concerts by University of Victoria ensembles and Vox Humana choir, as well as feature appearances by the composer himself.

Immerse yourself in the Mad Men era with the Victoria Symphony and Five By Design

Victoria, BC – Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Vocal quintet Five By Design takes the stage with the Victoria Symphony October 30, 31 and November 1 to celebrate the era of cool with 50 and 60’s favourites like Mack the Knife, Night and Day, Fever, and Come Fly With Me.

Five By Design combine great vocal harmonies with musicality to re-create the swagger and chill of the era. Joined by Pops guest conductor Stuart Chafetz, Music of the Mad Men era showcases timeless greats from Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and more!

Pay homage to the suave and swinging sounds of the 50’s and 60’s: a time when Don Draper’s sharp-suited style was fashionable, when Bossa Nova was new, the lounges of Las Vegas were hip and catchy dance music spun on every hi-fi. Loosen your tie and get your groove on with 60’s themed cocktails including Vodka Gimlets, Tom Collinses and Cuba Libres. Combine a few ounces of Nat King Cole, a shot of Sinatra and even a splash of Wayne Newton – all mixed into a Mad Men musical cocktail!

Come dressed as your best Don Draper and buy your Joan Holloway a Tom Collins (the drink!).

The first 25 people through the doors on October 31 will receive a prize!

Performances are October 30 at 2:00 pm and October 31 and November 1 at 8:00 pm. Tickets start at $30 and are available by calling 250.385.6515.

VS Signature Series Opens with Tam Plays Bruch

Victoria, BC – Thursday, September 25, 2014

On October 4 and 5 at the Royal Theatre, Victoria Symphony Concertmaster Terence Tam will play audience favourite Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1. Conducted by Bernhard Gueller, the concert will conclude with Brahms’s Symphony no. 4 and “Spring” by Robert Rival.

After leading the orchestra through a nearly sold-out opening night September 22, VS Concertmaster Terence Tam is ready to take center stage October 4 and 5. Tam is the Victoria Symphony’s most popular soloist, having played Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in recent years. Formerly the Concertmaster of both the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia, Tam has appeared as a soloist around the globe.

Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1 is his best-known work. A brilliant combination of virtuosic playing and beautiful melodies, the work is particularly admired for its delicately heartfelt second movement. Bruch began writing the work at age 19, and revised it over a decade before it was finally performed in 1866. Though the popularity of the piece was immediate, Bruch had already sold the concerto for a small fee and died penniless many years later.

Tam Plays Bruch will mark the beginning of Bernhard Gueller’s second year as Principal Guest Conductor for the Victoria Symphony. Originally from Germany, Maestro Gueller is currently the Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia and has frequently been a guest conductor in Germany and South Africa. In addition to the Bruch, Maestro Gueller will conduct Brahms Symphony no. 4. This immense symphony is especially beloved by Gueller, and he is very much looking forward to working on it with the orchestra. “Spring,” by Canadian composer Robert Rival, will open the concert.

 

Tam Plays Bruch

Saturday, October 4, 8 pm & Sunday, October 5, 2:30 pm

Royal Theatre

Bernhard Gueller, conductor / Terence Tam, violin

Ticktes $30-$80; vsSoundcheck for 15-35-year-olds for $13

For tickets call 250.385.6515.