Legacy of Healey Willan, a special Bach Elgar concert Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

The Bach Elgar Choir presented a program entitled ‘The Legacy of Healey Willan’. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his death so Healey Willan concerts will abound, but Bach Elgar got in first. Although he was born and grew up in England, Willan has been claimed as a great Canadian composer because he moved to Toronto in 1913 to take up a position as Head of Theory at the Conservatory of Music. He then became organist at St. Paul’s on Bloor Street where he composed, taught and performed leaving a very large legacy of musical achievement.

 stamps honoring Emma Albani & Healey Willan

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“HPO Remembers”, consulare tenebris, solennes adque arcebant * Reply

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.

l-r: – Mercer; Nesrallah; New; Wiliford & Fanning performing the ‘Tuba Mirum’

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“Choral Spectacular”, NAO’s terrific Festival closer 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

The Brott National Academy Orchestra finished its 30th season with a superlative concert; four featured soloists and seventy-four choir-members selected from dozens of diverse venues – all coming together as one coordinated unit. The magic required to accomplish such a feat was contributed by chorus manager Paul Hawkins and under the mastership of Stephane Potvin. The latter is artistic director of MUSIKAY, a small ensemble whose popularity is growing with each season, but the challenge of creating something tenfold in size boggles the mind. It would be egregious not to mention the challenge facing the podium – choral group AND an orchestra.

Bradley, Segal, MacMaster & Westman performing ‘Ode to Joy with the NAO & Chorus

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“N.A.O. – 30 years young” 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

The opening concert of season 30 was devoted to Mozart and two of his most celebrated compositions; the brief (20 minute) Haffner Symphony and his last opus – Requiem in D minor. After an introductory piece by S.I. Glick entitled ‘Psalm’; the NAO under apprentice conductor Roï Azoulay presented a cohesive opening two movements of the ‘Haffner. The National Academy Orchestra’s three decades of recruiting; selecting; training and presenting the top Canadian musical graduates as a performing ensemble is an extraordinary accomplishment and has been a positive opportunity for over a thousand young men and women.

Laengert; Bogdanowicz; Brott; Ramirez & Lichti performing ‘Requiem’

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“MESSIAH”, performed by Oakville’s MUSIKAY Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            “Messiah” is usually performed at Christmas but Musikay offered it on the final Saturday and today of April. Handel’s original performance was in Dublin just after Easter and that timing makes more sense with a libretto largely concerned with Christ’s passion and resurrection. It is rather discomforting at Christmas when the birth of Jesus is celebrated to sing of Him being despised, rejected etc. ‘Messiah’ normally is performed by a large choir but Musikay had a small 12-member chorus, four soloists and a nine-piece orchestra – each one of them talented, well trained professionals, capable of making a wonderful sound separately and together.

The MUSIKAY choir & musicians performing “MESSIAH”

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“VIMY” recalled by Bach Elgar & guests Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            On Sunday, the Bach Elgar Choir offered a truly monumental concert for the Centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. They were joined by soprano Jennifer Taverner, mezzo Mia Lennox, tenor Owen McCausland, baritone Geoffrey Sirett, plus the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
The RHLI is one of Canada’s oldest combat regiments, predating Confederation, and they fought in WW I at Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele and Vimy. Their Regimental Band wears the authentic scarlet uniforms of 1866. They opened the concert with Arthur Bliss’ Fanfare for a Dignified Occasion, a very suitable beginning.

Some HPO musicians & the RHLI band under Rehill’s  baton

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