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Con spirito: Inside the SSO
THIS MONTH: Baroque and Beyond
July  2011
In This Issue
Oboe soloist Mark Rogers
Violin soloist Andrew Chung
Guest conductor Judith Yan
Bach's Concerto for Oboe and Violin
Elgar's Serenade for Strings
Handel's Water Music
Kaye Royer
SSO Golf Outing
Plans for Season Seven

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July 9  

Baroque and Beyond:
Bach, Elgar, Handel    

Prepare to be impressed. J.S. Bach, Edward Elgar and George Frideric Handel have all accepted invitations - indirectly at least - to have some of their most-loved compositions performed by the Stratford Symphony Orchestra in Baroque and Beyond, the orchestra's final concert of the season on Saturday, July 9. Do not miss this most special event.


Bach's Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin will feature Mark Rogers, principal oboist of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and the National Ballet Orchestra, and violinist Andrew Chung, a member of the Factory Arts String Quartet and artistic director of INNERChamber, a new chamber music concert series in Stratford.


Guest conductor for the concert will be Judith Yan, recently named conductor of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. In addition to Bach, she will also conduct Elgar's Serenade for Strings and Handel's Water Music. (See notes on the music and the musicians, below.)


The concert will be held at St. John's United Church, 175 Waterloo Street South, Stratford, at 7:30 p.m. This is a change from the usual venue, Central United Church. Tickets are available at Fanfare Books and Anything Grows, as well as online

Oboe soloist Mark Rogers 

Mark Rogers was principal oboist of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra for 12 years prior to moving to Toronto in 1998. He has performed as soloist with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble in Edmonton and the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra. He has also substituted on numerous occasions in the principal oboe chair of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Rogers grew up in Lethbridge, Alberta, and received a master's degree in music from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.

Violin soloist Andrew Chung

Andrew Chung was born and raised in Stratford. He lived for a number of years in Sydney, Australia, where he studied music and performed with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, one of the busiest and most versatile orchestras in Australia, at the Sydney Opera House. He now performs regularly with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, among others. He is enjoying exploring the baroque violin and has performed with the Aradia Ensemble, including a recent tour to Italy, and at the Grand River Baroque Festival. Mr. Chung also teaches privately in Stratford.

Guest conductor Judith Yan

Judith Yan was recently named artistic director of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. She is also music director and principal conductor of Opera on the Avalon, a summer program in St. John's, Newfoundland, dedicated to training Canadian opera singers. She has been staff conductor for the San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Equally adept at conducting opera, ballet, and symphony, she has conducted for companies in Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada.


Her 2006 debut with the National Ballet of Canada led to an invitation to conduct more than 90 performances for the company, working with the world's leading choreographers and ballet masters. Prior to her work with the National Ballet, Ms. Yan served as staff conductor of the San Francisco Opera, assistant to maestro Donald Runnicles. While with the San Francisco Opera she conducted the 2005 Merola production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, garnering critical acclaim. Prior to her appointment at the San Francisco Opera she served as the Canadian Opera Company's conductor-in-residence, a position created for her by the general director, the late Richard Bradshaw.


Ms. Yan's 2010/11 season also includes a debut with Hong Kong Philharmonic, performances of The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake with Hong Kong Ballet, and an all-Balanchine program for Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington.


Bach's Concerto for Oboe and Violin 

The music of J.S. Bach "seems to come with its own built-in 'personality module,' " writes music critic Paul Serotsky. "What other composer produced music capable of emerging intact from the tender, and occasionally not-so-tender, ministrations of the likes of Jaques Loussier, the Swingle Singers and the Moog synthesizer?" Bach himself recycled often. Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin is likely a reconstruction of a harpsichord concerto, resulting in most enjoyable listening.

Elgar's Serenade for Strings

"The lovely String Serenade holds its popularity to this day, despite many superior works of the same type by the composer," says critic J.F. Porte of this composition by a young Elgar. "Its chief charm lies in its unassuming loveliness; it has the bloom and innocence of youth, a pretty comparison with its more intricate and deeper followers.  ... The appeal is deep and human, and we may believe that we have seen, as often happens in the early works of great composers, a glimpse of the hidden genius, preparing for its inevitable full appearance."

Handel's Water Music

Water Music, today regarded as a collection of 19 pieces, made its debut in April of 1717. King George I had requested that Handel write music to be played as the king went up the Thames on a barge to Chelsea. Fifty or so musicians performed on another barge, and VIPs on yet more barges joined them. They all set off around 8 p.m. The group disembarked for dinner in Chelsea at 11 and the orchestra continued to play during dinner, which lasted until 2 a.m. The king so enjoyed the music that he asked the orchestra to play on the way back as well. There is no reliable record as to exactly which pieces of Water Music were played on the journey, but it's a safe bet the musicians were a bit groggy by the time their performance finally ended.



Kaye Royer, clarinet: The best part
is the people you make music with

Kaye Royer is a versatile, accomplished and very busy musician. She is principal clarinet with the Stratford Symphony and with the Toronto Sinfonietta, Brantford Symphony, Canadian Sinfonietta and Scarborough Philharmonic as well. She also performs regularly with the Niagara Symphony and Sinfinia Toronto. As a chamber musician, she's played with the Niagara International Chamber Music Series, the University of Toronto Chamber Music Series at Hart House, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Les AMIS concert series. She has worked on film sound tracks, including as a featured performer on the sound track of the Canadian feature film Gooby, starring Eugene Levy and Robbie Coltrane, and performed with the orchestra on the Ontario portion of the most recent Diana Krall world tour.


Kaye grew up on a farm near Cayuga, Ontario, a village on the Grand River. Her parents, she says, thought music lessons would be "good discipline," so when Kaye was six they began driving her to piano lessons in the next town. She didn't enjoy the piano, and was allowed at age 10 to switch to clarinet, which she enjoyed a lot. There was no music instruction in the schools she attended but she played "in whatever local bands and orchestras would have me [and] especially loved playing with strings." At the University of Guelph she studied music and took a minor in modern European history with the idea of going on to study law. Instead, she "got hooked on a career in music."


She lives in Toronto with her husband, Ron, a composer and teacher in the University of Toronto Schools, and their son, James, 15, who is also hooked on the clarinet. She is completing her second full season with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra. "The best part is the people you make music with," she says. "It still delights me to strive with all my might to make the music while all the rest of the players around you (some of whom are old friends) are doing the same."


Come to the SSO Golf Outing July 25

The Oracle of the Best of Times says that Monday, July 25, will be a perfect day for being outdoors: sunny, temp in the mid 20s. So make plans now, if you haven't done so, to be part of ForePlay, the SSO's First Annual Golf Tournament at the Stratford Country Club.


The registration fee of $125 ($115 for club members) includes a barbeque lunch, green fees (1 p.m. shotgun start), cart and dinner. Register on the SSO website. Bring your spouse or invite friends to share the fun and support the SSO.


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Plans in the works for Season Seven

Season Seven of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra is now in the works! Six performances will include a concert version of HMS Pinafore, a Christmas concert, the orchestra's annual Celtic concert, and more. Violist Keith Hamm, winner of the 2011 Emerging Artists Concerto Competition, will be guest soloist in the season's premiere concert. Composer in Residence Chris Meyer will debut his new composition, Gabrieli's Voice. Rant Maggie Rant will headline the Celtic concert. Look for many more details and announcements in the August edition of Con Spirito.


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George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito