It’s been almost two years since Orchestra London Canada crumbled under the weight of its accumulated debt. But while the organization called Orchestra London died, the music never did — thanks to the efforts of a core group of musicians who continued performing under the moniker #WePlayOn. The sudden end of Orchestra London came as a shock, says #WePlayOn’s Thea Boyd. “People were very upset. But emotionally I think we’re now at the acceptance part of the grieving process and are excited about creating something new going forward.”
And thanks to recently-announced funding from the London Arts Council, the future is looking bright. Plans are well underway for a new season with a new orchestra performing under a new name. But Boyd says London music-lovers will have to wait until Culture Days (October 1 and 2) for the “big reveal.”“We’ll have a few small ensembles performing at the London Roundhouse where we’ll be announcing what we’ve got planned for the fall and going into 2017,” she says.
While Boyd declined to share too many details in advance of the October launch, she confirmed that the ensemble will be presenting a Remembrance Day concert at Metropolitan United Church, a run-out concert to Chatham, and several smaller performances over the Christmas season. As for the new name, that is being kept under wraps.
“This is very much the birth of a new organization,” confirms #WePlayOn musician and board member Andrew Chung. “We have always been able to put on great concerts. The new funding allows us to back that up with some infrastructure for the organization. I am quite optimistic at this stage. We are heading in the right direction.”
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Violinist Andrew Chung is also the artistic director of Stratford’s INNERchamber. The intimate chamber music series launches its seventh season on October 2, with Book Club. The Sunday evening concert features actors Marion Adler and Scott Wentworth reading two selections from Heather O’Neill’s Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlisted collection of short stories, Daydreams of Angels.
The stories, The Gypsy and the Bear and Bartok for Children, will be accompanied by musical selections suggested by the audience. People are being encouraged to read the stories, Chung explains, before visiting the INNERchamber website to submit their musical ideas. “We’ve developed quite a trusting audience who are up for new experiences,” he says, adding that people who haven’t read the book will still be able to enjoy the performance.
The INNERchamber concert series continues October 30 with a more traditional evening of string music called Serious Genius. The program features Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11, Op. 95 “Serioso”played alongside Schubert’s String Quintet D. 956.
Each work reflects the personalities of its composer, says Chung. “Beethoven exuded such confidence in what he was producing and the public flocked to that. This particular quartet is the stepping off point for his late quartets. His hearing was already gone and he was becoming even more experimental, clearly knowing exactly what he was doing.” In contrast, Schubert was much more of an introvert who died penniless and relatively unknown. Although Schubert’s String Quintet was never performed or published during the composer’s lifetime, Chung calls it his favourite piece of chamber music. “It has such a great depth of emotion and is something that I have been wanting to play for years,” he says.
Both concerts take place at Stratford’s Factory163. Visit www.innerchamber.ca for details.
The Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s season opener is a celebration of music inspired by the works of William Shakespeare. The September 17 concert marks the Bard’s 400th birthday with performances of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Walton’s Henry V as well as selections from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Shakespeare has inspired composers from every era in music history, right up until this day,” comments SSO principal conductor, William Rowson. “He had an ability to show us all the angles of the human experience in such a poetic, dramatic and human way.”
Rowson has his own reason to celebrate. In addition to his return to the podium in Stratford, he was recently appointed as the new Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
He’ll be back in Stratford for the SSO’s Remembrance Day concert, November 11, with a program featuring music by Elgar and Mozart along with recitations by author and artist Teddy Payne.
Back in London, The Jeffery Concerts launch their 29th season October 7 with an all-Beethoven concert performed by The New Orford String Quartet. The program marks a continuation of The Jeffery Concerts project to present the complete Beethoven Quartets over two years.
One month later, on November 4, Cleveland Symphony concertmaster and world-renowned violinist William Preucil joins pianist Arthur Rowe in an evening of works by Schubert, Schumann and Kreisler, as the two musicians celebrate almost 40 years of performing together.
Visit www.jefferyconcerts.com for details.
Nicole Laidler has been covering the London and area music scene for more than a decade. See what else she’s been writing at www.spilledink.ca