MAMA MIA! Canada's First Lady of musical theatre is coming to Stratford


LOUISE PITRE: A Night to Remember

A cabaret show to benefit the Stratford Symphony Orchestra 

Monday, May 2, at Central United Church, 7:30 p.m.

Louise will be joined by pianist Sandra Mogensen, lyric tenor Mark DuBois and tenor Eric Neaves. Musician/author Kelly Walker will emcee.

Tickets: $50  Available at Fanfare Books, Anything Grows
and online


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Con spirito: Inside the SSO
THIS MONTH: Operamania
April  2011
In This Issue
OPERAMANIA: A feast for opera lovers
Soprano Sandra Tucker
Baritone Andrew Tees
Tenor Emilio Fina
Cellist Thomas Beard
Harpist Emily Beard
Soprano Rachel Weisdorf
Concerto Competition winner
Getting to know the SSO
From the podium

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MBM Operamania

April 16 concert

OPERAMANIA: A feast of arias, choruses and duets 

Some of the greatest opera music of all time will power the Stratford Symphony Orchestra's Operamania! concert on Saturday, April 16.


Opera lovers will be able to feast on memorable arias, choruses and duets performed by the orchestra and sung by guest soloists Sandra Tucker, soprano; Andrew Tees, baritone; and Emilio Fina, tenor. They will be joined by three top performers from the 2010 Stratford Symphony Emerging Artists Concerto Competition: Soprano Rachel Weisdorf and a brother-sister duo of cellist Thomas Beard and harpist Emily Beard. The Stratford Concert Choir, directed by Ian Sadler, will sing favourite opera choruses by Bizet, Verdi and Wagner. 


Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni are on tap, as are Verdi's Va Pensiero and the chorus from Il Trovatore; Puccini's Un bei di from Madama Butterfly and his tenor aria, Nessun Dorma, from Turandot,; music from Bizet's Carmen; arias from Rossini's Barber of Seville; and selections from Wagner's Lohengrin.


The Beards will play the Romance, an intermezzo by Johann Strauss Jr.


"This is a perfect concert for those who may be new to the opera world," says symphony music director Jerome David Summers, " and, of course, for those who are already avid opera lovers."


The performance, at Stratford Central United Church, will begin at 7:30. Advance tickets are $30, available at Fanfare Books and Anything Grows, as well as online. 


Soprano Sandra Tucker's opera credits include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Carolina in Die Heimliche Ehe, The Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, as well as major roles in Die Zauberflöte, Hansel and Gretel, and others. Possessing a voice described as "meltingly lyrical," she received a Bachelor of Music and a Diploma in Opera from Wilfrid Laurier University, then studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Augsburg, Germany.  

Andrew Tees

Baritone Andrew Tees's opera roles include title roles in the Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, Silvia in I Pagliacci, Marcello in La Boheme and many more. He sang the role of King Claudius in the premiere of Mark Richards' adaptation of Hamlet into a full-length opera in the 2008 Stratford Summer Music Festival. Andrew is an alumnus of McGill, as well as the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio. Dynamic and charismatic, Andrew's infectious love of singing is able to leap across an orchestra pit and embrace an audience whether singing opera, oratorio or pops.


Tenor Emilio Fina is artistic director of Opera Kitchener. His operatic roles include Tamino in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Ferrando in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Don Basilio and Don Curtzio in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Beppe in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, Gastone in Verdi's La Traviata, Arturo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Ramiro in Rossini's La Cenerentola. Emilio has " ... a sweet tenor voice with great high notes and amazing breath control."  He studied Voice and Opera Performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould School, Toronto.

Thomas 2

Cellist Thomas Beard, Wingham, Ontario, winner of the 2010 Stratford Symphony Orchestra Emerging Artists Concerto Competition, is now studying cello at Wilfrid Laurier University. He was selected to play with the National Youth Orchestra in 2009 and 2010. He was principal cellist with the Youth Orchestra of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony for two of the four years he played there.


Emily Beard

Harpist Emily Beard, Thomas's sister, was a finalist in the 2010 Stratford Symphony Concerto Competition as half of a harp-cello duo with Thomas. The duo were also winners in the 2010 Kitchener-Waterloo Concerto Competition. She has played in the Youth Orchestra program with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and in the Huron Harp Ensemble, which last year released a CD involving six harps, flute, violin and cello.



Soprano Rachel Weisdorf was a finalist in the 2010 Stratford Symphony Concerto Competition. She has a Masters of Music in Performance and Literature from the University of Western Ontario. Rachel has performed internationally, most recently in a concert series celebrating Chopin's anniversary at the Krakow Opera House, Poland, in October 2010. She also recently performed the role of Clarice in Haydn's Il Mondo Della Luna in Novafeltria, Italy, (La Musica Lirica).

Keith Hamm

Keith Hamm

Cameron Crozman

Cameron Crozman











Violist Keith Hamm wins Concerto Competition

A young viola player who grew up playing and listening to "huge amounts" of bluegrass music in Rosebud, Alberta, has won the Stratford Symphony Orchestra's Emerging Artists Concerto Competition.


Keith Hamm, 22, performed Béla Bartók's Concerto for Viola and Orchestra in the competition, winning out over 22 other contestants.  Runner-up was Cameron Crozman, a 16-year-old cellist who now lives in London but who also grew up in Alberta. Both have studied at the Mount Royal Conservatory in Calgary. Each will perform with the Stratford Symphony next season, Hamm on Oct. 15 and Crozman on May 2, 2012.


Hamm began studying violin when he was five, taking up the viola 10 years later at the urging of his teacher, Nicholas Pulos, who was primarily a violist. "I enjoyed the rich, dark sound of the instrument," Hamm says. He has studied with a number of distinguished artists, including three summers with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec at the National Arts Center's Summer Music Institute in Ottawa.


In the next few years Hamm will pursue performance opportunities with friends from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, where he is currently studying, and with Emily Rho, his accompanist and partner in the RhosebudDuo, which won first prize in the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition. This summer he will perform as guest violist with The Royal Conservatory ARC ensemble at the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago.


Morris Jenner

Getting to know the SSO

Morris Jenner: Physician, musician

Morris Jenner is Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario and London Health Sciences Centre. A long time before he became a medical doctor, though, he was Morris Jenner, musician - and he still is.


He began studying violin (he has since switched to viola) in his native Saskatchewan when he was six and during his high school years "picked up the flute and piccolo as well." He took advanced studies in violin at the Regina Conservatory of Music and studied composition at the University of Saskatchewan as part of a BA degree. He played violin with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra while in medical school. During a medical internship in London, he joined the London Symphony Orchestra (which became Orchestra London) "now hooked on the viola," Morris says.


"In my earlier years I have performed solo violin and flute at the Banff Town Hall, with the Manitouwabing Symphony Orchestra in Parry Sound, in Toronto at the Casa Loma, and in Atlanta with The Back Porch Symphony of Macon, Georgia." And, he says, "I am proud to have been Camp Doc at Interprovincial Music Camp in Parry Sound from 1960 to 1994, getting to listen to and perform with many fine musicians." One of those musicians was Jerome David Summers, then a chamber music coach and conductor.


Now he's a "semi-retired" pediatrician with the Children's Aid Society of London, working there two days a week. He plays in the London Community Orchestra ("30-plus years") and enjoys the home, on the bank of the Thames in St. Marys, that he and his wife, Yvonne, bought several years ago, where he listens to "the cacophony of percussionists (woodpeckers) and double reeds (Canada geese)."


Jerry Summers


Random thoughts from the Maestro

I have frequently been asked questions about many of the rituals and routines that occur during orchestra concerts.  Here are just a few which come to mind.


Why does the orchestra stand when the conductor comes onstage?

The orchestra stands to share the applause when the conductor arrives onstage.  It is not the same as when the Queen enters the room!


Why do orchestras perform in black formal wear?

By making the ensemble appear to be homogenous, there is less emphasis placed on individual musicians and more on the group as a whole. Also, the idea of the orchestra "uniform" provides less visual distraction and places more emphasis on the music itself.


Why do the musicians all play different things at once prior to the concert?

Prior to concerts, the members of the orchestra have numerous preparatory tasks to undertake.  Checking the response of reeds, warming up that small flap of lip that vibrates to create the wonderful sound coming from a horn or trumpet or trombone, practicing the precision of some awkward string shifts at the last minute (much as an athlete does before the game), and generally 'feeling' the hall acoustic one more time for security.


What does the conductor actually do?

The conductor's main task is to balance the orchestra and provide a single vision of the music. He must analyze and digest the score's details:  determine the tempo scheme, the harmonic landscape and direction, the climactic and transitional structures, and then communicate these elements to the players.  The arm-waving part of conducting is really a series of gestures which are designed to signal specific events and guide the shaping of a phrase, set tempi, balance the chords, oversee dynamics, encourage the timid, tame the brass, and remind the players of all that was decided in rehearsal.  In short....major multi-tasking....which is why conductors live well into old age!   (No, it's not really the arm motion's the cerebral activity that preserves us).


What does the concertmaster do?

The concertmaster oversees the co-ordinated motion of all the string bows.   This is done prior to the first rehearsal, then he passes the bowing plan along to the other principal string personnel for matching up.  He is a kind of 'shop foreman' for the conductor in a sense.

-- Jerome David Summers 


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George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito