1️⃣ MCO at Home, vol. 1

Introducing the inaugural edition of MCO at Home

Dear MCO and Vinyl Vault friends, 

A hearty welcome to the first instalment of MCO at Home, our newly created music hub! Archival recordings of classic MCO concerts, playlists curated by Anne Manson, Chamber Chatter articles, and other content featuring our wonderful MCO musicians are among what you can expect from us on a weekly basis – things to keep everyone’s spirit up, and connected to the beauty of art while many of you, like us, spend most the day at home. A main focus will be posting content for which our musicians will be paid by the MCO. Explore our offerings in this edition below, let us know what you think by replying to this email, and stay tuned for more.

But first why not let let Anne Manson, MCO’s Music Director, introduce MCO at Home? Click the thumbnail to the right for that. 🙂 

Listen to this instant classic: Dinuk Wijeratne and MCO’s October 2019 premiere of Gajaga Vannama   

When it’s one’s job to promote concerts, as it is mine, I think one actually struggles a little harder to describe favourite concerts. How not to resort to the hyperbole of adspeak when talking about an experience as memorable as our October 2019 concert with pianist-composer-conductor Dinuk Wijeratne? Of course, if you follow our promotional material, you’ll hear us conveying how all our concerts are the best, though this one was for me among the bestest. So I’m very happy to say that the MCO has just released a live recording of two pieces from this concert, which you can hear here. 

The concert’s centrepiece was the world premiere of Gajaga Vannama, a piano concerto commissioned by the MCO and composed, conducted, and performed on by Dinuk. It’s the second piece in our recording. Western-classical-meets-traditional-Sri-Lankan-music is, simplistically put, how Dinuk’s engaging program note describes it. One audience member told me they anticipated the sort of experiment that, at the very least, would delight multiculturally-minded arts administrators. Another audience member, more familiar with Dinuk’s work, said they were not in the least bit surprised when the performance was met with one of most resounding standing ovations in recent MCO memory.

As I accompanied him to an interview the day before the concert, Dinuk – articulate, friendly, and conversational – told me that he’s influenced by the rhythms of popular music. Gajaga Vannama dances in a way that few classical pieces do, and its most rhythmically infectious stretch is the ‘Konnakol’ section near the end. Probably the closest Western comparison to the rapid-fire recitation style of Konnakol is rapping in hip-hop, though there’s little in mainstream rap I’ve heard that nears the rhythmic complexity of Konnakol with its wild syncopation and kaleidoscopically-shifting meters.

At a moment where increasingly institutionalized support for diversity in the Canadian arts is also met with increasingly brazen hostility from some corners, works like Gajaga Vannama illustrate a lesson from the Renaissance no less genuine for being a cliché. At a certain point, even great traditions grow stagnant if they are not brought into interaction with the traditions of different cultures, and may flourish if they are. I’m sure the polymathic Dinuk, a Renaissance man, did not compose Gajaga Vannama in order to make a point, much less teach Canadians a lesson. Though what an inspiring example it sets!

Conrad Sweatman

Listen to Spotify playlists inspired by our March and April concerts 

While the MCO’s 19-20 season is, very sadly,  suspended, you can still experience much of the concert programs by checking out playlists we’ve shared to the MCO’s Spotify page. Featured on our page right now is:

  • A playlist curated by the Cluster Fest inspired by their March 2020 festival, which was to feature two performances with the MCO. Listen to it here.
  • A playlist curated by MCO Music Director Anne Manson and inspired by the MCO’s 22 April concert, entitled Moderns, Mozarts, and Mozart Imposters. You’ll hear works by W.A. Mozart, his father Leopold Mozart, and Carl Freidrich Abel whose arguably most famous work was long misattributed to Mozart Jr.  The concert was also to feature works by a number of contemporary composers, including Julian Grant, Kevin Lau, and Sid Robinovitch. Where we’ve been able to find their work on Spotify, Anne has selected some interesting pieces for the playlist.  Hear it here. 

Never used Spotify before? Check out this handy guide

Consider donating your unused concert tickets 

With so many arts groups being unable to avoid suspending their 19-20 seasons, many audience members are donating back their unused tickets and receiving a charitable tax receipt.  While everyone feels the strain of the current situation, gestures of this sort are greatly appreciated at a time of considerable financial uncertainty for artists and presenters.

The MCO is extremely grateful for their loyal supporters, and thanks everyone who has donated their tickets.  Please note you may also exchange your tickets for a concert next season or receive a refund. No ticket exchange fee applies. If you prefer a refund or exchange for a given concert ticket, we ask that you please contact us no later than the date of the concert, in accordance with the MCO’s regular ticket policy.  Please call the MCO at 204-783-7377 or email us at info@themco.ca about tickets, and someone will get back to you.

We look forward to connecting with you online and over the phone in the coming months, and to sharing the joy of live music with you next season.

Season Sponsor is CN. Media Sponsors are the Winnipeg Free Press, Classic 107, and Prairie Public Broadcasting. Heartstrings Sponsor is Christianson Wealth Advisors, National Bank FinancialCanada Life and Sun Life Financial are outreach sponsors, while Canada Life is also an education sponsor.  The MCO also acknowledges its public funders the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, and Winnipeg Arts Council, as well its ongoing support from the Richardson Foundation and The Winnipeg Foundation

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