Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
The serendipitous alignment of Nov. 11th ’17 falling on a Saturday meant having the Hamilton Philharmonic present it’s traditional Remembrance Day event after the emotional catharsis of the city’s & (Country’s conventional) recognizance of the day’s significance. With the ritual and pomp of the Regimental Band of the ‘RHLI’s’ accompanied by a pipe band opening the evening, the two novel and contemporary compositions, the mood and mind-set of the audience was posited and ready for Mozart’s Requiem Mass, performed by the orchestra; 4 soloists and the Bach-Elgar Choir.
A very brief, brassy and bold piece by the HPO’s resident composer, Abigail Richardson-Schulte opened the concert followed by John Estacio’s Trumpet concerto performed by Michael Fedyshyn, principal trumpeter of the Hamilton Philharmonic. This 3-movement piece has a noisy opening followed by a melodic ballad and then an interesting Rondo finale. Except for the jazz genre (& an exceptional Marsalis classical interpretation) brass concerti are not even close to inclusion for writer’s collectible record collection; but the audience seemed appreciative.
The major work of the evening was Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D-minor. Definitively, a requiem is liturgically a predominantly Catholic service to hopefully insure a repose for a departed soul, or souls. Thus, suited for the gravity of a Remembrance Day. With the vocal talents of soprano Shannon Mercer and mezzo Julie Nesrallah (of CBC omnipresence). The male voices were baritone John Fanning and Lawrence Wiliford whose tenor voice outshone all of the soloists with it’s clarity and bell-like tones. The fourteen sections were split-performed by choir, soloist duet & quartets, and then the whole vocal & musical ‘mishpocha‘.
The musicians under Gemma New‘s baton performed at the high(er) level this scribe has noticed since she took over the podium. Their cohesion; attitude and seemingly effortless technique make the assemblage worthy of a ¾ or so million-sized city. We’re now MORE than just the ‘Hammer’, kiddies.
The Bach-Elgar choir, augmented by the Grand Philharmonic voices were amazingly cohesive and vocally synchronized …obviously a challenge and certainly and aced result. The evening was emotional, touching and a fitting end to a momentous day marking a century since Ypres, Passchendaele; Amiens; the Somme; Givenchy & especially Vimy – battles that were ‘supposed to end all wars’.
* LATIN – “ a dark, solemn, and foreboding concert