Con Spirito: Inside the SSO

April  2013
In This Issue
A Mozart Medley and more
Conductor's Notes
About the artists
Guest conductor: Judith Yan
About the music

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Bert Carrière

Music Director


Barbara Young

Associate Music Director 


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Mitchell, Evan
Evan Mitchell


Mark your calendar:  


Saturday, May 11

Knox Church

7:30 p.m.


Flights of Fantasy 


Evan Mitchell  

Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major op. 97, "Rhenish"  

Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 in G major op. 88  




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Saturday, April 13

A Mozart Medley
. . . and more!

SSO concertgoers on Saturday, April 13, will be treated to some of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's most celebrated compositions, as well as the Canadian premiere of Songs of Stone, based on poems written by Stratford's Marion Adler, who will be on hand to read them as preface to each of the songs. Rounding out the program is Träume, from a song cycle by Richard Wagner, sung by soprano Catherine Gardner. Guest conductor will be Judith Yan, music director of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra.

The Mozart selections will include the Overture to Don Giovanni, the Act II finale from the same opera (with vocal soloists Catherine Gardner, Mark Gardner, Andrew Tees and Dylan Wright), and Symphony No. 38 (Prague) K.504.  (See About the music, below.)

The concert, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Stratford, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($35 for adults; $20 for students) can be purchased at Fanfare Books and Blowes Stationery in Stratford and Stewart Books in St. Marys, as well as online and at the door on the night of the concert.

Conductor's Notes
Prague has always supported and celebrated the genius of Mozart, and the composer chose this city to premiere two of his greatest works: the opera Don Giovanni and his Symphony No. 38, the "Prague" Symphony.

There are striking similarities in style, themes, and musical gestures between these two magnificent works, completed one year apart. You have a terrific opportunity to hear both works presented side by side.
                                                                           -Judith Yan

About the artists . . .  

Adler, Marion
Marion Adler

Marion Adler
Marion Adler is an award-winning lyricist, actress and singer whose work has been seen throughout North America and Europe. Her musical Enter the Guardsman (with husband Scott Wentworth and Craig Bohmler) was an Olivier Award nominee for Best New Musical in 1998. In 2000 she won the $100,000 Kleban Award for her body of work as a lyricist. Her musical Gunmetal Blues (with Mr. Wentworth and Mr. Bohmler) is licensed by Samuel French and has been produced over 100 times since its off-Broadway premiere in 1992. She is currently developing a children's musical, The Baabaasheep Quartet, with Berthold Carrière, SSO music director, and Leslie Watts, award-winning author. "Songs of Stone" was  the first song cycle Ms. Adler and Craig Bohmler wrote together. They are now working on their ninth, "Songs of Steel." Ms. Adler lives in Stratford.

Gardner, Catherine
Catherine Gardner

Catherine Gardner, Soprano
Ms. Gardner's recent performance of Donna Elvira in Opera Kitchener's Don
Giovanni was greeted with critical praise. "She IS a Donna Elvira...a fearless woman of spirit and indomitability," said Danny Gaisin, Ontario Arts Review. Other recent performances include singing Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras at the Arts & Letters Club with the University of Toronto Cello Ensemble, led by cellist Shauna Rolston. She appeared in the SSO's Five Star Gala in 2010. Ms. Garner, who lives in Stratford, is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance at the University of Toronto.

Garner, Mark
Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner, Baritone
Mr. Gardner's recent performance in the title role of Don Giovanni with Opera Kitchener and was greeted with critical acclaim. "Mark Gardner had the menacing dark good looks to be effective in the title role; his full throated baritone and his acting left no one in doubt that he was a rake," said Dawn Martins, Opera Canada. Mr. Gardner will be the baritone soloist in a performance of Fauré's Requiem with the Stratford Concert Choir in May and his debut recording of the well-loved duet "Au fond du temple Saint" from The Pearl Fishers with tenor Emilio Fina will be released in 2013 under the Sony Music label. He lives in Stratford.

Tees, Andrew2
Andrew Tees

Andrew Tees, Bass-Baritone
SSO concertgoers will remember Mr. Tees's performance in "Operamania" in April 2011. His 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 a Mark Richards adaptation of Hamlet into a full-length opera in the 2008 Stratford Summer Music Festival. Andrew is an alumnus of McGill and the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio. Andrew's infectious love of singing embraces an audience whether he is singing opera, oratorio or pops.

Wright, Dylan
Dylan Wright

Dylan Wright, Bass
Dylan Wright, praised by Beat Magazine for "seducing the audience with his rich, sonorous voice," is pursuing a Masters of Music in Opera at the University of Toronto. Mr. Wright is a graduate of the Diploma in Music Performance program at Mount Royal University in Calgary and of the University of Western Ontario, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Honours Performance) in 2012. In Opera Kitchener's 2011-2012 season he sang Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni.

Guest conductor: Judith Yan 

Yan, Judith
Judith Yan

Judith Yan is 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.

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. 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 2012-2013 season includes concerts with Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Lehar's Die Lustige Witwe with University of Western Ontario, a new production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker for Hong Kong Ballet, and Verdi's La Traviata and a gala concert with Opera on the Avalon. She previously appeared as guest conductor with the SSO in July 2011.
About the music . . .

Overture to Don Giovanni, K.527
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

While the opera was written in the relatively short space of six weeks, the overture was composed the day before the opera premiered in Prague in 1787. The opera was rapturously received. The Prager Oberamtszeitung, the local press, reported, "Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like," and "the opera ... is extremely difficult to perform." The opera was written in collaboration with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. They had previously collaborated on The Marriage of Figaro and would also later collaborate on Così fan tutte.

Songs of Stone (Canadian premiere)
by Craig Bohmler; text by Marion Adler

The songs, composed by Craig Bohmler, are based on poems that Marion Adler wrote when she was living in New York. They were inspired by particular statues in that city and were written specifically to be set to music by Mr. Bohmler, with whom Ms. Adler has collaborated frequently. The music draws on the harmonic language of the late/post romantic era and might remind the listener of the song cycles of Gustav Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky or Erich Korngold.
NOTE: Ms. Adler will read the poem that forms the text of each song before it is sung by Catherine Gardner.

Don Giovanni, K.527, Act II, Finale
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This is a summary of the portion of the opera that contains tonight's vocal excerpts:
Don Giovanni (sung by Mark Gardner), a serial womanizer and manipulator, is enjoying an opulent dinner when Donna Elvira (Catherine Gardner) arrives. She is one of many women that Don Giovanni has seduced and she tries to convince him to change his lifestyle, but he refuses. She leaves but within moments returns in a state of fright and runs to another room. Don Giovanni tells his servant, Leporello (Andrew Tees), to go find out what has frightened Donna Elvira. Leporello does so and returns, himself frightened, to report that the statue of Il Commendatore (Dylan Wright), an old nobleman who was killed by a disguised Don Giovanni in Act I, has arrived for dinner, having been invited earlier by Don Giovanni when the statue came to life in a graveyard near Donna Elvira's house. The statue, reciprocating, extends a dinner invitation to Don Giovanni, who readily accepts, at which point the statue demands that Don Giovanni repent for his sins. When he refuses, the statue pulls him to Hell.

Träume  from 5 Wesendonck Lieder
by Richard Wagner

"Träume" is from a song cycle composed by Wagner while he was working on his opera Tristan and Isolde. The cycle, Wesendonck Lieder, is a setting of five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck, wife of one of Wagner's patrons and a woman with whom Wagner has, by some sources, been linked romantically. At the very least, Wagner greatly admired Mrs. Wesendonck. In "Träume" (Dreams), the last song in the cycle, the protagonist dreams of "the only one. It is the source for the passionate love duet in Act II of Tristan and Isolde.

Symphony No. 38 in D Major (Prague), K.504
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Riding a wave of public adulation in Prague after rave reviews for his Marriage of Figaro, Mozart visited the city with his retinue and brought with him his Symphony No. 38, leading its premiere at the National Theatre on January 19, 1787. Concertgoers were bowled over. John Mangum, artistic administrator for the New York Philharmonic, describes the symphony as reflecting Mozart's "symphonic style at its most sophisticated. ... The allegro is one of the most complex Mozart ever wrote ... . The andante ... contrasts its inward, lyrical first theme with tenser material prefaced by a series of woodwind chords. The finale covers a remarkable emotional spectrum, something readily apparent in its opening moments, as Mozart calls the celebratory atmosphere into question with a purple patch for winds alone that develops into something almost violent. It is music where darkness lurks just beneath the light, where equivocation calls every seemingly joyous outburst into question."

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George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito