The Classical Beat: Young Talent Shines Bright

Written by Nicole Laidler

It may be the dead of winter, but local talent will be shining bright on stages across our region this January and February.

London’s least conventional classical ensemble, the Rebelheart Collective, presents its second concert at Aeolian Hall, January 21, with a program of music by Bartok, Haydn, Mozart and Mussorgsky.

rebelheart-collectiveAt the core of the ensemble are four of Canada’s top string players – Scott St. John, violin; Sharon Wei, viola; Thomas Wiebe, cello; and Erika Raum violin. Throw in a group of graduate-level music students and add the children of Aeolian’s El Sistema program. Eliminate the conductor and give half the tickets away for free. Then wrap the concert into a series that also includes a performance by the Vienna Boys Choir (March 8) and an evening with Clark Bryan and Marion Miller (April 8).

It’s a model that’s so crazy, it just might work. “It’s an experiment. An attempt to make classical music in London accessible to people who might otherwise not be able to come to a concert,” says Aeolian’s Clark Bryan, who founded the El Sistema youth program five years ago.

“These kids are reaching for the stars,” he says. “They are already at a level where they can play with professional musicians. It’s something I’m very passionate about.”

At only 21 years old, cellist Cameron Crozman is another young Londoner who is reaching for the stars. In fact, he’s already making a name for himself on stages across Europe and North America.

Currently studying at the Paris Conservatoire, he returns home to join forces with Montreal-based pianist Philip Chiu for a concert of British and French music, February 4 at Wolf Performance Hall.

Philip Chiu

Philip Chiu

“The idea is to show how 20th century composers in England and France were turning to traditional and folk music for inspiration,” says Crozman.

Both musicians are recent winners of prestigious awards. Crozman performs on the $12 million Bonjour Stradivarius cello and Shawn Adam cello bow – both on loan from the Canada Council’s Instrument Bank. Chiu won the 2015/16 Prix Goyer, Canada’s largest prize for an emerging classical artist.

The concert is the first in a three-part mini-series of London artists, presented by The Jeffery Concerts.

The following day two members of the London Youth Symphony step into the spotlight at Dundas Street Centre United Church. The February 5 concert features 15-year-old cellist Sarah Cupit performing Strauss’ Romanze and 17-year-old French Horn player, Jennifer Bywaters, playing Weber’s Concertino in E.

A student of Ron George and Kate Stone, Bywaters will be continuing her studies in Europe next year, says LYS manager, Joan Mortimer. “She is one of the most dedicated young musicians I have seen.”

Watching young musicians like Cupit and Bywaters develop is a very rewarding experience, Mortimer says. “Even players who won’t go on to become professional musicians will have a passion for music that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” she notes.

Students at UWOpera are gearing up for their winter production. Mozart’s The Magic Flute runs January 27 & 8 and February 3, 4 & 5 at the Paul Davenport Theatre.

The two-act ‘Singspiel’ tells the story of Tamino, a prince who must undergo a series of tests, accompanied by his sidekick Papageno, in order to marry the princess Pamina. Premiered in 1791 in Vienna, just two months before the composer’s death, it has become one of the world’s most-beloved operas.

Windsor native and Western DMA student Adam Iannetta is taking on the role of assistant director for this production. “The music program here at Western does a fantastic job of offering students experiences and opportunities that can lead you in so many different directions, not just being on stage but behind the scenes as well,” he says.


Anne Lederman

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra welcomes the New Year with its annual Celtic Celebration, January 28 at Knox Presbyterian Church.

This year’s guest artist is Canadian Metis fiddler Anne Lederman, who will be performing her own arrangements of Metis fiddle tunes and Celtic music from the British Isles.

The orchestra will also play selections from Leroy Anderson’s “Irish Suite”, arrangements of music from Michael Flatley’s “River Dance Suite” and “Lord of the Dance”, as well as an arrangement of Celtic music by Canadian composer Chris Meyer. Recitations of poetry by Robbie Burns, and the sounds of the Stratford Police Pipe Band round out the program.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the Stratford Police Pipe and Drums,” says SSO office manager, David Murray, adding: “One couldn’t imagine a Celtic concert without hearing ‘Highland Cathedral.”


About the author

Nicole Laidler

Nicole Laidler is a former classical musician who has been writing about London's cultural scene for more than a decade. To see what else she's been up to, visit