McGill Symphony Orchestra
McGill Symphony OrchestraMcGill Symphony Orchestra
For those visiting Montreal and looking to catch a classical concert during their stay, it is worth looking into the McGill University Schulich School of Music 's website for up-coming recitals. The university has a wide range of year round, affordable and often free concerts for music aficionados of all ages and backgrounds.
McGill Pollack hall has wonderful acoustics and is easily accessible by public transport. It is certainly a wonderful location for up-coming young musicians to perform publicly and also for music fans to enjoy numerous performances at little or no cost.
On Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, I attended an enjoyable classical performance by the McGill Symphony Orchestra at Pollack hall. The concert was presented by guest conductor François Koh in partial fullﬁllment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music in Performance.
Under Koh’s baton, the 80 or so young musicians performed various movements from Haydn, Debussy and Tchaikovsky.
The program included:
Symphony No. 100 in G major «Military» (excerpt) (1732-1809) Franz Joseph Haydn's - Adagio - Allegro
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1862-1918) Claude Debussy
Symphonie no 5 / Symphony No. 5 (excerpts) (1840-1893) Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky III. Valse - Allegro Moderato IV. Finale - Andante maestoso - Allegro vivace
François Koh received his Bachelor degree in Classical Guitar and Musicology from Kyung-won University, Korea. His conducting training was furthered in France with Jean-Sebastian Béreau and Pierre Cao. When he relocated to Vancouver in 2006, he founded and directed the Vancouver Camerata chamber orchestra. Since 2011, he has been studying orchestral conducting under Alexis Hauser at McGill University.
As a young conductor, I found Koh's style to be very smooth and articulate. It is apparent that Koh has studied and memorized all the scores with great precision and heart. As the pieces he presented were standard classical repertoire, it didn’t tax the orchestra too much and left more leeway for the young conductor to express himself. He led the orchestra with great energy but it was clearly apparent that he is still a student working towards a master’s degree. This was most apparent in his final piece, Tchaikovsky No 5, which has a recurring main theme that is to be heard in all four movements. The theme gradually transforms into a triumphant march which eventually dominates the final movement. Although the orchestra played the last movement energetically, it would appear that at times the tempo was running away slightly from the conductor. To his advantage, the McGill orchestra, dressed smartly and uniformly in black, played in tune and the different sections kept in harmony. Seeing the performance live always makes it more interesting to see the way in which the musicians react to each other on stage.
The second half of the concert consisted of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 for ﬂute and orchestra in G major, K. 313 (1756-1791), led under the baton of resident conductor Mr. Alexis Hauser. The piece is divided into three movements: I. Allegro maestoso II. Adagio ma non troppo III. Rondo: Tempo di Menuetto and is scored for a standard set of orchestral strings, two oboes (which are replaced with two flutes in the Adagio movement), and two horns.
Hauser led the orchestra with great gusto and conducted with a confidence that naturally stemmed from his years of experience. Dakota Martin, the winner of the 2012 McGill Concerto Competition, from the class of Timothy Hutchins, was the invited flute soloist. Although clearly a little nervous in the first movement, he generally exuded great stage presence and brought to Mozart’s first concerto a tone of warmth and fullness. It is not easy to perform Mozart, as his pieces are generally technically difficult, but Dakota's rendition of the piece’s gorgeous slow movement had an irresistible grace at was performed at a notably gentle pace.
For those seeking to catch an upcoming performance of McGill’s Symphonic Orchestra.
Their next performance will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, 2013
Program will include :
Reiko Yamada, compositeur-en-résidence 2012-13 : Mask and Shadow
Claude Vivier : Orion, 1979
Jennifer Higdon : Percussion Concerto ( Canadian composition )
The invited soloist will be Krystina Marcoux,( ﬁnalist of the 2012 McGill Concerto Competition),
She will be playing Béla Bartók : The Miraculous Mandarin - Suite, Op. 19 (A csodálatos mandarin)
Friday and Saturday, April 12/13, 2013
Wagner : Wesendonck Lieder, WWV9
Soloist: Annamaria Popescu, mezzo-soprano
Wagner, arr. Henk de Vlieger : Parsifal: An Orchestral Quest (Canadian creation)
All concerts take place at 7 :30 at Pollack Hall and tickets are 12 $.
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