Triple ECMA Award Nominee to Record with 10 Symphonies in 3 Months For Upcoming True North: The Canadian Songbook 

TORONTO, March 9, 2016 /CNW/ – Eleanor McCain is about to make history.

In an unparalleled and ambitious move to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday with her upcoming True North: The Canadian Songbook, the three-time East Coast Music Association Award nominee is traveling across Canada from St. John’s, NL to Victoria, BCto record with 10 orchestras for inclusion on her 33-song recording project.

“The idea for this project began in January 2014 and was to reimagine some of our most iconic Canadian songs in new arrangements for orchestra in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday,” said McCain. “But if you plan on recording with a Canadian symphony, how do you choose only one? That’s when the dream happened: wouldn’t it be great to do this with orchestras across the country and make it Pan-Canadian.”

To fulfill this dream, Florenceville, NB native McCain will be trekking across the nation between the months of March and June with Emmy Award-winning album producer Don Breithaupt (The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook), conductor Martin MacDonald, and orchestral recording engineer Jeremy Tusz  to capture the dynamic and powerful sounds of 40-plus-piece orchestras based on arrangements provided by such stellar arrangers as Shelly Berger, Peter Cardinali, Darren Fung, Lou Pomanti, and Sarah Slean, to name a few.

True North: The Canadian Songbook, is a musical celebration of 32 of the nation’s best-known songs, plus 1 original, as interpreted by Eleanor McCain. It will feature some of the country’s most distinguished performers and recording artists as special guests.

“When I created the song list for this project, I wanted a cross section of styles and songs from across the country. Yet they also had to be songs consistent with my style,” said McCain, a classical crossover artist with a five album catalogue.

Song titles and guest artists will be announced at a later date.

The orchestral portions of the recording kick off with the 56-piece Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, Alberta on March 22.  The project then relocates to the East Coast later that week to Halifax and Saint John for sessions with Symphony Nova Scotia and Symphony New Brunswick respectively.

April will be bookended by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Winnipeg and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra in St. John’s, while the first 13 days in May will include visits to the Victoria Symphony in Victoria, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Vancouver, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Kitchener-Waterloo and L’orchestre symphonique de Québec in Quebec City.

The orchestra sessions will be wrapped in Ottawa on June 13-14 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

In addition to the recording, a coffee table book featuring picturesque Canadian landscapes captured by nationally prominent photographers will accompany the double CD. The album is also being offered as a stand-alone double CD with an enhanced booklet and as a digital download. The album and book are scheduled for release on Retriever Records  in the spring of 2017 in time forCanada’s Sesquicentennial birthday.

The project will also be captured on film for a companion documentary.

“I am so excited to start the orchestra recording sessions and to eventually share these wonderful arrangements of some of Canada’smost iconic songs with everyone,” McCain enthused.

Please visit www.EleanorMcCain.ca for further details.

True North: The Canadian Songbook participating orchestras and dates:

Date: March 22 (Edmonton)
Orchestra: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

Date: March 24 (Halifax)
Orchestra: Symphony Nova Scotia

Date: March 26 (St John, NB)
Orchestra: Symphony New Brunswick

Date: April 4 (Winnipeg)
Orchestra: Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Date: April 24 (St. John’s, NL)
Orchestra: Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra

Date: May 2 (Victoria)
Orchestra: Victoria Symphony

Date: May 4 (Vancouver)
Orchestra: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Date: May 10 (Kitchener-Waterloo)
Orchestra: Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Date: May 13 (Québec City)
Orchestra: L’orchestre symphonique de Québec

Date: June 13-14 (Ottawa)
Orchestra: National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra

SOURCE Deb McCain Communications

Image with caption: “Eleanor McCain (Photo Credit: Greg Locke) (CNW Group/Deb McCain Communications)”. Image available at:http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160309_C8835_PHOTO_EN_638913.jpg

For further information: For further information, images and to arrange interviews with Eleanor McCain, please contact: Deb McCain, 416-402-5681, [email protected]; Wonjay Chang, 647-349-2899, [email protected]

Angela Cheng Performs Entire Cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concerti in a Single Weekend

Victoria, BC – March 1, 2016

In a rare feat of extraordinary musicianship, Canadian Angela Cheng will perform the entire cycle of Beethoven’s piano concerti in one weekend. Performances take place Friday, March 18, Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 21, 2016, at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, B.C.

The first concert, March 18 at 8pm, includes Beethoven’s marathon Piano Concerto No. 1 and the rich and beautiful Piano Concerto No. 3. The second concert, March 20 at 2:30pm, includes the light and cheery Piano Concerto No. 2 and his grand Piano Concerto No. 4. The Beethoven Festival concludes March 21 at 8pm, with Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”.

Angela Cheng has been described as “nothing short of magic…a pianist one could listen to for hours”. Victoria Symphony Music Director Tania Miller says, “Some of the most deeply satisfying concertos of my tenure with the Victoria Symphony have come in the artistry and eloquence of Angela Cheng’s interpretations of music. Knowing how sensitive and expressive she is with composers such as Mozart and Brahms, I am curious about how she will approach the enormously beautiful piano concerti of Beethoven – at times delicate and sweet, classical and intimate, and at others, bold and virtuosic. To encounter all of the Beethoven concerti in one weekend is to experience first-hand the development of Beethoven’s extraordinary mind and musical path, and to be awestruck by their force and passion. The fact that Angela Cheng dares to attempt them all in three days is miraculous and daring, and will be a thrill for all.”

The Festival will also include the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s highly dramatic Coriolan Overture, the classical-era Symphony No. 1, with which he burst on to the world stage, and his Symphony No. 3, the powerful and radiant “Eroica”. All concerts are conducted by Maestra Tania Miller. For a complete program and detailed www.victoriasymphony.ca/beethovenfestival

THE KING: A tribute to Elvis (Sans sideburns or sequins)

Victoria, BC – February 10, 2016

A tribute to Elvis with no Elvis impersonators. The Victoria Symphony welcomes four veteran Broadway performers for a tribute to the music of the King, Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at 8pm, with a matinee March 5 at 2pm. All performances are at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street, Victoria.

Elvis is a musical icon, with a record nine solo albums reaching the number one spot on music charts around the world. His music now comes to the symphony stage as the Victoria Symphony plays glorious new arrangements of the music that he made famous.

Conducted by Giuseppe Pietraroia and featuring singers Brian Wilson, Lee Lessack, Johnny Rodgers, and Scott Coulter, the orchestra performs gospel, blues, and rock n’ roll classics including Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak Hotel, It’s Now or Never, Crying in the Chapel, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Blues, Love me Tender, and many more.

Originally from Nashville, bass/baritone Brian Wilson has toured the US and Canada with the Broadway musical CATS. Lyric baritone Lee Lessack is a concert performer who has toured extensively throughout the US and Europe. Johnny Rodgers has earned numerous awards for his outstanding performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre and New York City clubs. He was a featured songwriter and performer with Liza Minnelli in the Tony-award winning Liza at the Palace, which now airs on PBS television. Scott Coulter is an award-winning cabaret performer who has toured in a number of Broadway musicals and with composer Stephen Schwartz in the revue Stephen Schwartz & Friends.

This outstanding quartet pays tribute to the king with sincere and energetic performances that display the great diversity of Elvis’ music and its universal appeal.

Youth-focused Victoria Symphony Concert Features 23-Year-Old Guest Conductor and Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra

Victoria, BC – January 11, 2016

23-year-old prodigy Alexander Prior comes to Victoria January 23 & 24 to conduct a concert featuring teenaged guest musicians from the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

Though Alexander Prior is but 23, his experience in the orchestral world is already great. Initially known as a composer, he was recognized by the BBC at 12 and he was just 14 when the Moscow State Ballet commissioned his ballet Moqgli: The Jungle Book. When he conducted its premiere in 2008, he became known for both; and at 17 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory with two Masters Degrees in Conducting and Composition. In 2009/10, he completed a fellowship as Assistant to the Conductor with the Seattle Symphony, and since then, he has been regularly engaged as a conductor, including appearances with the Edmonton Symphony, the Northern German Radio Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Royal Danish Orchestra with nine sell-out performances.

The two performances he will lead in Victoria open with Canadian composer Harry Stafylakis’s Brittle Fracture, a work depicting a musical representation of material fractures from tensile stress. Later Prior will work with Victoria-born and Julliard-trained pianist Lorraine Min on Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This exquisitely beautiful work shows Chopin’s mastery of the instrument as well as the incredible skill of the performer. For the final work of the evening, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the VS will be joined onstage by members of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (GVYO).

The incredibly keen youth musicians in the GVYO range from 13 years old to 25, though most are in high school. Yariv Aloni, Music Director of the group, said that the youth are “extremely excited – they can’t wait!” to take part. When one young musician realized that he would be playing next to a former GVYO member who now plays professionally for the VS, his eyes doubled in size. “He connected the dots that there is a professional future sitting right next to him,” said Aloni. The opportunity to play on a professional stage while still in high school is an exceptional experience for the young musicians. “To sit near a professional and play – they become the symphony for one night. They learn how one behaves, how one plays, how one reacts, all of those things are so incredible and so different from playing on your own. And of course, there’s the thrill of the music … the most important thing is to be able to play this phenomenal masterpiece,” Aloni said over the phone in early January.

World Renowned Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin Returns to His Roots to Help Victoria Symphony Celebrate 75th Anniversary Season

Victoria, BCDecember 22, 2015

Making a rare guest appearance, internationally-acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will lead the Victoria Symphony at a one-night-only concert on January 9, 2016.

If ever there were a Canadian superstar conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is it. His popularity began in 2000, when he was appointed Music Director of l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at just 25. Two years later after one guest appearance in Victoria, Nézet-Séguin was immediately engaged for a three-season term as Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony. From 2003-2007, he made three Victoria appearances a year, all the while leading some of the best orchestras in the world, including the Orchestre National de France and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006 – his final season with the Victoria Symphony – Nézet-Séguin was announced as the successor to Valery Gergiev as the new Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Currently Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra – one of the world’s most acclaimed symphonic ensembles – as well as Rotterdam, Nézet-Séguin’s electric stage presence has captivated audiences around the world for the last decade. He has led many major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic, and is a beloved guest at the Metropolitan Opera. Earlier this month, Nézet-Séguin was nominated for two 2016 Grammy awards: one for leading the Philadelphia Orchestra through Rachmaninoff and one with a Chamber Orchestra of Europe recording of Mozart.

Maestro Nézet-Séguin’s concert program in Victoria includes Bruckner’s soul-stirring Symphony No. 4 “Romantic” and Tchaikovsky’s beloved Romeo and Juliet: Overture-Fantasy.

Victoria Symphony continues to celebrate its 75th Anniversary Season with concert featuring James Ehnes and Mahler Symphony No. 5.

Victoria, BC – November 13, 2015

Canadian superstar violinist James Ehnes comes to Victoria to play Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, and Victoria Symphony Music Director Tania Miller conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 on November 21 & 22.

When Tania Miller and the music programming committee were planning the Victoria Symphony’s celebratory 75th anniversary season, James Ehnes was one of the first names mentioned as a guest to invite. Canadian Ehnes debuted with the Victoria Symphony in 1993 when he was still a teenager and has been back twice since then, playing Beethoven in 2009 and Sibelius in 2013. Labelled “the Jascha Heifetz of our day” (Globe and Mail), his 15/16 season includes performances with the Melbourne Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg in addition to his two appearances in Victoria November 21 and 22.

For his Victoria Symphony appearance, Ehnes requested the Lalo Symphonie espagnole. Lalo, a French composer, wrote the work in 1874 for violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate; the Spanish influences and melodies in the work were designed to complement the colourful Spanish violinist de Sarasate. The Victoria public is sure to enjoy hearing James Ehnes’ brilliant take on this delightful work.

Tania Miller’s conducting experience with Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 began at her first serious competition in 2004. The Gustav Mahler Competition required young conductors to lead the Bamberg Symphony in an excerpt of the Mahler’s 5th – but they only found out which excerpt they were leading the night before their adjudication. This required extensive study of the entire 70-minute Symphony No. 5, a monumental task. (The competition was won by a then-relatively unknown conductor – Gustavo Dudamel.) Since then Miller has conducted bits of the work, but the performance on November 21 will be her first time leading it in its entirety. Miller said of the work:

“He takes us on a journey. Mahler is constantly searching for the meaning of life; how does man struggle with the challenges of life. Right at the beginning someone is hearing their own death march. In amongst all those thoughts are moments of nostalgia, memories, things that are part of your life. Mahler creates a world that moves from despair and darkness into celebration, joy and love.”

Maestra Miller will be on hand for pre-concert “Tania Talk” to offer insights into Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in the west lobby of the Royal Theatre one hour before each concert. Admission is free for ticket holders.

To purchase tickets, pleas click here.

Ballet Meets Broadway

Victoria, BC – October 26, 2015

Ballet Meets Broadway pairs Ballet Victoria with the Victoria Symphony on the Pops stage for the first time, highlighting the music that has kept musical theatre audiences tapping their feet for more than fifty years.

Performances takes place Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m., with a matinee Saturday, Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.  All concerts take place at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street in Victoria.

Ballet Victoria dancers have joined with the Victoria Symphony in each of the last six Viennese New Year concerts, performing graceful ballet-style waltzes to add visual beauty to the orchestral music.  Now, for the first time, Ballet Victoria’s entire company of dancers will perform on the Symphony’s Pops stage

Ballet meets Broadway promises to be filled with fun, laughs and good times,”said Ballet Victoria Artistic Director, Paul Destrooper. “A series of vignettes set to iconic Broadway tunes will evoke the world of Broadway and transport the audience to different times in their lives through dance and music.”

Conducted by Giuseppe Pietraroia, Ballet meets Broadway, celebrates the music of Kander & Ebb, Cole Porter, Loewe, Bernstein, Rodgers, Flaherty and Hamlisch.  A dozen dancers join the orchestra in selections from Kiss Me Kate, Carousel, A Chorus Line, Chicago, and Slaughter on 10th Avenue, choreographed by BV Artistic Director, Paul Destrooper.

“We are looking forward to working with the Victoria Symphony once again as we take audiences on a journey from the Royal Theatre to the sights, sounds and emotions of Broadway,” added Destrooper.

The full program includes:

My Fair Lady Loewe

Kiss Me Kate Cole Porter

Gigi Loewe

Carousel Rodgers

A Chorus Line Hamlisch

Ragtime Flaherty

Chicago Kander/Ebb

West Side Story Bernstein

Slaughter on 10th Avenue Rodgers

BALLET TO BROADWAY runs Nov. 6 and 7, 2015 at 8 p.m. with matinée Nov. 7, at 2 p.m., at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street    Tickets are $30-$80 for adults, $28-$68 for seniors, and $15-$30 for students and are available from the Victoria Symphony Box Office at 250-385-6515.  vsSOUNDCHECK tickets are available within 7 days prior to the show.  vsSOUNDCHECK tickets are for 15 to 35 year olds who sign up for free and are then able to buy two $13 tickets ON LINE.

Victoria Symphony to Premiere First Commissioned Piece, “Echoes of Autumn,” By Composer in Residence Jared Miller

Victoria, BC – October 22, 2015

Victoria Symphony is set to premiere the first commissioned work, “Echoes of Autumn,” by Composer in Residence Jared Miller at the November 2 Legacy Series concert. Pianist Orli Shaham will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 “Jeunehomme” and first-time guest conductor Stilian Kirov will lead the orchestra through Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony to complete the programme.

Raised in British Columbia, Jared Miller (of no relation to VS Music Director Tania Miller) began his tenure as composer in residence of the Victoria Symphony in the fall of 2014. A doctoral candidate at the Julliard School studying with John Corigliano, Miller has already begun his professional career, including a commission by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2010 Olympic Games. Like many composers before him, Miller was inspired by the season when he wrote “Echoes of Autumn.” He writes:

“The season of autumn has always amazed me. Whether it’s the feeling of the cold crisp air, the reddish-brown colours of fallen leaves or the sight of them being swept up in a windstorm, something about this time of year makes me incredibly nostalgic. When I began writing this piece in the autumn of 2014, I was feeling reflective because for the first time in five years I was able to spend most of the season at home in British Columbia where I grew up.”

Miller based the work on a work he wrote as a sixteen-year-old, and “you can still hear fragments of my older music echoing throughout,” he promises.

“Brilliant pianist” (New York Times) Orli Shaham is as well known for her activities off the stage as on. Mother of two twin 8-year-olds, she is the curator of “Baby Got Bach,” an interactive concert program designed to introduce children aged 3 to 6 to classical instruments and music. In addition, Shaham hosted a feature on Classical Public Radio entitled “Dial-A-Musician,” where she interviewed fellow artists with readers’ questions. But foremost is Shaham’s talent as a pianist. Called a “first-rate Mozartean” by the Chicago Tribune, Shaham will appear with the Victoria Symphony on November 2 to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 “Jeunehomme.” Rising star Stilian Kirov will be on the podium for the Mozart, Miller’s premiere and the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 “Scottish.” Having recently completed his post as Associate Conductor with the Seattle Symphony, conductor Kirov has been appointed as Music Director for the Bakersfield Symphony and Symphony in C in New Jersey.

Percussive Hits

One Man, Two Hands, Four Mallets

Victoria, BC –October 16, 2015

The Victoria Symphony’s upcoming concert Percussive Hits includes pieces written in the past 50 years highlighting percussion. Soloists VS Principal Percussionist Corey Rae on marimba and guest Ed Hanley on tabla will make this concert exciting for both the eyes and the ears.

VS Principal Percussionist Corey Rae will play a large solo for his first time since joining the orchestra in 2012. The Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Emmanuel Séjourné is a challenge for any percussionist, requiring coordination to play four mallets continuously throughout the 17-minute work. In addition to the visual acrobatics, a beautiful melody makes up the theme of each movement, carefully blending with the periodic dissonance. The showy work from 2005 has quickly entered the standard repertoire for marimba players, and will be enjoyable for all.

It is also unlikely concertgoers will have heard the second work with percussion solo, Diunk Wijeratne’s Concerto for Tabla and Orchestra. Wijeratne, a Sri-Lankan born, Canadian-based pianist labelled “exuberantly creative” by the New York Times, has integrated cultural influences of the Hindustani tabla into this upbeat concerto. Symphony Nova Scotia commissioned this work in 2011, which Wijeratne wrote specifically for tabla phenom Ed Hanley. The work’s premiere conductor (and VS Principal Guest Conductor) Bernhard Gueller will once again lead Ed Hanley through it October 24 with the Victoria Symphony.

In addition to these two percussive works, Gueller will also lead the strings and a percussionist through Arvo Pärt’s exquisite Fratres. One of Pärt’s most well-known works, Fratres celebrates dissonance and highlights its stark beauty, resulting in haunting music perfect for the setting of the Alix Goolden Hall. The lone “museum piece” work on the programme, Haydn’s “Drum Roll” Symphony, will bring the orchestra to life with its delightful melodies and rousing timpani part. Ninaivanjali by Quebecois Gabriel Dharmoo completes the evening.

Click here for concert information.

Rachmaninoff 2 & Tchaikovsky 5

Pianist of Most Popular Recording ever of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 Coming to Victoria to Perform It with Victoria Symphony

Victoria, BC – September 24, 2015

Anna Fedorova has the most popular recording ever of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, and will make her Victoria debut playing the technically demanding piano concerto. Conductor David Danzmayr, leads the orchestra through Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

Appearing for the first time in Victoria, David Danzmayr is a conductor on the rise. Born and trained in Austria, Danzmayr spent the past three years as Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and recently accepted the post as Principal Conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra in Croatia. While Danzmayr says he is strongly influenced by Pierre Boulez and enjoys programming American works like John Cage’s 4’33’, the concerts on October 3 and 4 feature two of the most frequently played works in the classical repertoire: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. “Music must grab the audience,” Danzmayr told a Bavarian newspaper last week, and there is little doubt that the concerts will do that. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, with its recurring melody woven seamlessly throughout four movements is universally beloved, and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 demands a level of technical skill and lyricism available to only the most talented artists.

Internationally-acclaimed pianist Anna Fedorova certainly has the required artistry to perform Rach 2. Although she is just 25, millions of people have already seen her perform this adored concerto. In 2013, Fedorova played it with the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam that was recorded and posted to youtube. Two years later, with over 4.5 million views, it is the most popular recording of the piece ever made.

The next most popular recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was made by the composer himself. Though Rachmaninoff trained as both a pianist and a composer, he was primarily renowned in his lifetime for his performances. His first work, Prelude in C Sharp Minor, was published when he was just 19 and created a sensation because of its distinctive chords requiring enormous hands. The Piano Concerto No. 2 was similar, with immense chords demanding the fingers stretch up to a foot wide, and was considered unplayable by most performers of the day. Rachmaninoff benefitted from this immensely, as he was able to perform the solo himself at most presentations of the work. Though Anna Fedorova’s performance of the concerto will be her debut in Victoria, it will be her eighth time performing the piece this year.