Review by Danny Gaisin
‘Tis the season to be jolly” and director Gemma New’s Hamilton Philharmonic ended the year with what epitomizes eclectic and certainly jolly. A projected BBC cartoon, recited and orchestrially accompanied; Hamilton’s Youth Choir; and the musicians of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra augmenting their more mature professionals. Something for everyone.
From a vibrant opening interpretation of Anderson’s ‘Christmas Festival’ to the sing-along ending, this was an evening with something for every taste and especially, every age group. The youth choir under long-time director Zimfira Poloz performed works by Quartel; Kastalsky and Saindon.
Canadian composer Sarah Quartel’s ‘Snow Angel’ is a five-movement narrative theme specially geared for choir. Alexander Kastalsky was an early 20th century Russian composer whose choral work was a paean to fallen heroes and was sung dramatically in Slovenian. Marie Claire Saindon, is a contemporary musician and McGill graduate. Her piece evokes the season from both a Quebec and Maritime influence. Then, “The Snowman” by Howard Blake.
Blake’s output list is astounding but this scribe will forever remember him for his theme to ‘The Avengers’, with Patrick McNee & Diana Rigg. Emulated him by carrying an umbrella, and then marrying Rigg lookalike Terry Metter (now Gaisin). Narrated by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura with solo’s by vocally mature juveniles Antonio Kappos & Khalida Douglas (HCC members), it was a challengie concentrating on the narrative; orchestral renderings; projected movie & the kids’ vocals as well. An electronic glitch added some theatrical comedy to the evening, especially from the HPO’s director.
Post intermission, Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’, not utilizing my whip-sounding S/X invention – “The Leroy Clapper”. Timpanist Jean-Normand Iadeluca, loves the sound but the volume isn’t loud enough for a concert Hall, especially our Hamilton venue! A superb rendering of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker went a long way to offset my disappointment of not attending any of the actual ballets staged this season.
Another personal disappointment, hearing Diana Weir introduce the evening for the last time. It’s been an amazing seven years and the Philharmonic’s success- financial & musical; benefited from her dedication and efforts. We may be critics, but we’re also attending audience members and as such wish the orchestra, staff and Administration a Happy 2020 and another year of growth and success.