Genevieve PM Roy
McGill Symphony OrchestraFor music aficionados of all ages and backgrounds, the McGill University Schulich School of Music has year round regular concerts that are affordable and often free.
For music aficionados of all ages and backgrounds, the McGill University Schulich School of Music has year round regular concerts that are affordable and often free.
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 Friday, March 1st, 2013, I attended a lively contemporary performance at Pollack hall. The concert was presented by conductor Alexis Hauser and the McGill Symphonic Orchestra in partial fulﬁlment of their music degree requirements. Under Hauser’s baton, the 80 or so young musicians performed various contemporary pieces from a varied program that included:
Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto (Canadian composition) *
*The invited soloist was the fiery Krystina Marcoux,( ﬁnalist of the 2012 McGill Concerto Competition),
Reiko Yamada, (composer-in-residence) 2012-13: Mask and Shadow
Claude Vivier’s : Orion, 1979
Béla Bartók’s : The Miraculous Mandarin - Suite, Op. 19 (A csodálatos mandarin)
One of the highlights of the evening was the percussion performance given by invited soloist Krystina Marcoux. With boundless energy she performed Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto. Dressed in a gorgeous red dress and performing barefooted, she glided from her vibraphone, marimba, wood blocks, opera gong and timbale with much ease and confidence. Her style can be said to be very high in energy, while remaining graceful and articulate. It was clearly apparent that Marcoux has studied and memorized her score with great precision and invested a lot of heart into her performance. The rest of the orchestra had no problem following her solo and it was interesting to hear the way in which each section contributed to the grandiose finale of the piece which sounded like the end of a triumphant battle.
Another highlight of the evening was when Reiko Yamada presented her Mask and Shadow as a world premiere. Featuring four movements respectfully entitled: Balance - Unbalance, Symmetry - Asymmetry, Regularity - Irregularity and Blended - Distinguished, the piece started out with a dark and somber theme that quickly escalated. The piece’s four movements flowed into each other and followed a natural path. I found interesting the “Irregularity” section where the string section goes into pizzicato and the flute section slowly joins in to culminate in a cacophony of brilliant sounds with the entire orchestra. During this time, the conductor is somewhat erased and the orchestra is left on its own to keep tempo.
The second half of the concert consisted solely of Béla Bartók’s fantastic The Miraculous Mandarin – Suite. This eclectic piece made full use of the brass section which delivered marvelously and also highlighted a talented solo oboist.
Even though this recital’s pieces were not standard classical repertoire, it didn’t tax the orchestra too much and left the audience extremely pleased with the entire performance. Alexis Hauser the resident conductor of McGill University has a very distinct and precise conducting style. Even with the tempo difficulties that sometimes arise with contemporary pieces; it was clear that he was in full control of the orchestra and he led the young musicians with great precision. All the while, Hauser maintained a high level of energy and emanated natural confidence that came from his years of experience in the musical field.
For those seeking to catch an upcoming performance of McGill’s Symphonic Orchestra.
Their next performance will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, 2013
Program will include:
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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