THE BRUNO SISTERS!
JUST AS SIBLING VIRTUOSOS like tennis’ Williams sisters burst onto the sports world, sibling performers have a way of conquering classical music. The MCO has a history of introducing local audiences to talented young soloists, and with this concert we welcome the spectacular Bruno sisters, Yolanda (violin) and Carmen (cello) performing a Vivaldi concerto for violin and cello.
1-hour in-person matinee 1.00pm Sep 28th (incl. online) | $36 Adult | $34 Senior | $15 Under-30
Buy 7.30pm Sep 28th in-person ticket (incl. online) | $36 Adult | $34 Senior | $15 Under-30
• Buy Sep 28th concert online-only ticket (available to view Nov 17th) | $25 Household ticket
Yolanda Bruno, a violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, has been praised for her “total control of her instrument” (La Presse) and was recently named on CBC’s 30 Canadian Classical Musicians under 30. Carmen, a cellist with Quebec Symphony Orchestra, is one of Canada’s most exciting emerging artists: a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player who’s performed across Europe and the Americas.
At this concert, the sisters perform Charles Cozens’ Eligie and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Strings, a scintillating example of why Vivaldi is still considered one of the greatest composers of string concerti. Also on this program, we’ll hear Bach’s bombastic Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Stravinsky’s bold, mischievous Pulcinella Suite, and a reprise performance of Julian Grant’s riveting Jump Cuts.
The concerts begin at 1.00pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday, September 28th, in Westminster United Church, 745 Westminster at Maryland. There will be no intermission for this concert. Casual tickets will be available 10 August 2022 here and on MCO’s Ticketline at 204-783-7377.
Click here for an info sheet on The Wild Swans, a CD release from Yolanda Bruno and pianist Isabelle David. The Wild Swans is a contemporary classical album, with elements of folk music as well as fusions of Eastern and Western musical traditions. Buy it here!
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster Church in Wolseley
1.00pm & 7.30pm, Wednesday, 28 September 2022
Online presentation 17 November 2022
Anne Manson, conductor
Yolanda Bruno, violin
Carmen Bruno, cello
THE BUHLER CONCERT
Johann Sebastian Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts; premiered March 8, 2022.
Concerto for Violin & Cello in B-flat Major, RV 547
Yolanda Bruno, violin
Carmen Bruno, cello
Elegie of the Swan and Lark
Suite from ‘Pulcinella’
Season sponsor / CN
Evening concert sponsor / Wawanesa Insurance
Matinee Music Director sponsor / Margaret Cuddy
Volunteer sponsor / MB Liquor Mart
Media sponsors / Classic 107, Golden West Radio & Winnipeg Free Press
Yolanda Bruno is, according to CBC Music, one of the “hottest young musicians” in Canada. She’s won a slew of awards and competitions, has performed as a soloist all over Europe and North America and joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2019. She’s played for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and backed-up the Australian heavy metal band Parkway Drive at a recording session in Ottawa.
Yet her most memorable musical experiences have happened in unexpected places—playing for children in a parking lot in South-East London, giving a concert in a high-security penitentiary, playing for strangers on street corners or in parks, subways, airports, hospitals.
She believes in the power of music to break down barriers of all kinds—personal, cultural, even political. Yolanda grew up in Ottawa and music was part of life before she was even born. Her mom went into labour while playing a concert, and became Yolanda’s first, and probably most important, teacher. After studies at McGill and the Guildhall School (London), she returned to Canada and launched a whirlwind professional career full of musical adventures. She masterminded a Kickstarter campaign with pianist Isabelle David to cover the costs of their first CD, The Wild Swans. It features music by eleven women composers, spanning ten centuries, including several world premieres. During the pandemic, she gave over 50 free performances as part of a project she calls “Music for Your Blues.” Children, retirees, folks in classrooms and seniors’ centres joined her for online concerts combining music with stories and poetry. For Yolanda, playing (on her nearly 300 year-old Domenico Montagnana) violin is about spinning sound, carving notes to make them speak as words—communication that is both intimate and provocative.
Canadian-Dutch cellist, Carmen Bruno is a multifaceted musician quickly establishing herself as one of Canada’s most versatile emerging artists. As a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player, she has performed across Europe and the Americas. Carmen spent her formative years in the Netherlands, where she completed a bachelor’s degree from the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2015. She’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree at McGill University with professor Matt Haimovitz, where her sister Yolanda also earned her master’s degree in 2017. As of the 2019/20 season, she is a member of the Québec Symphony Orchestra.
Carmen appeared on two Canadian albums in 2019: Duo Kalysta’s Origins, on which Carmen was featured in the recording of Andre Jolivet’s Chant de Linos, as well as Yolanda Bruno’s and Isabelle David’s debut album, The Wild Swans. On this second album, Carmen recorded The Swan Parapraxis; a new commission by Ottawa-based composer Kelly-Marie Murphy alongside Carmen’s sister, Yolanda. With the SOMA string quartet, she has collaborated with composers in Italy and Canada, and offered numerous educational performances for young audiences. As an orchestral musician, Carmen toured the Caribbean in 2014 with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and was invited to play as a featured soloist with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada on their nationwide tour the following year. Since 2019, she is a member of the Québec Symphony Orchestra and freelances with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra and the Montreal Classical Orchestra. Carmen plays an Italian cello, 1884, made by Giuseppe Tarasconi in Milan, and an Emmanuel Bégin bow, graciously loaned to her by CANIMEX INC. from Drummondville (Québec) Canada.
Julian Grant was born in London, UK, and has lived in Canada, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing before settling in the US in 2010. He has composed 20 operas of various lengths and sizes, which have been performed by English National Opera, The Royal Opera, Almeida Opera, Mecklenburgh Opera and Tête-à-tête, and, most recently, Boston Lyric Opera. His collaboration with Mark Campbell, The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr Burke & Mr Hare, premiered last season, and was later nominated for an International Opera Award. He has won the National Opera Association of America’s New Opera prize and been nominated for a London Theatreland Olivier Award.
From 2002-2007, he was Director of Music at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, London, a post previously occupied by Gustav Holst and Vaughan-Williams. In Hong Kong, he hosted a classical music radio show on RTHK and in Beijing he worked with the Beijing New Music Ensemble, and tried his hand at the yangqin (butterfly harp). He has written regularly for UK Opera Magazine. In 2012, his Cultural Olympiad commission Hot House, devised by Gareth Malone, premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He currently lives in Princeton and New York where he has an ongoing relationship with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Recent premieres include a chamber opera SALT (Emmanuel Music, Boston), and Suite for solo viola (Franklin Arts Awakening Festival). He also works with Trenton Music Makers, an El Sistema-derived organization, putting string tuition into public schools. Julian is an advocate for universal music education, and has written operas for children to perform. For further information: www.juliangrant.net.
Charles T. Cozens
A resident of Burlington Ontario, Maestro Charles Cozens has been labelled a Renaissance man of the Canadian music industry. Acclaimed as an arranger, composer and orchestrator, he’s also an accomplished orchestral conductor, recording producer, pianist and accordionist.
He has scored over 3000 commissioned orchestrations and compositions for a plethora of orchestras, recordings, artists and multimedia, and has created compelling orchestrations for such artists as Sir Elton John, Randy Bachman, Janelle Monae, The Nylons, Mark Masri, The Canadian Tenors, Quartetto Gelato and many others. As a conductor, he has had many appearances with symphony orchestras across Canada, and the United States, as well as several orchestral recordings in Russia. In 2013, Maestro Cozens was the first Canadian invited to conduct in Cuba with the Orquestra de Villa Clara.
His recent appearances as conductor and music supervisor have included The Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ontario Philharmonic and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. With over 1000 recorded tracks for companies such as Universal Music Canada, Somerset Entertainment and Linus Entertainment among others, he has been recognized by the International Conductor’s Guild as an expert on orchestral conducting in the recording environment.
His special projects include the 2nd international branding of the 2016 Mozart Effect Recordings (for which he was conductor, producer, and arranger) and The Mozart Effect: Live (conductor and music Supervisor) in association with Linus Entertainment. He is Vice President of the Arts and Culture Council of Burlington, Vice President of the Algoma Music Camp in association with the Great Lakes Summer Music Institute at Algoma University in Sudbury Ontario, and is a JUNO Award nominee (Instrumental Album Of The Year).
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach arrived in the German town of Anhalt-Cöthen in 1717, to take up the position of Kapellmeister (Director of Music) to Prince Leopold. This enlightened young monarch not only enjoyed listening to music but was himself a gifted amateur performer on the violin, bass viol and harpsichord. He loved instrumental music more than any other kind, and Bach was only too happy to provide him with many outstanding examples, including his first major outpouring of concertos. The ink would hardly have dried on the manuscript paper before the ensemble of 17 players which the prince had founded at his court just a few years earlier would give the premieres.
In 1719, Prince Leopold sent Bach to Berlin to bring back a harpsichord he had purchased there. During his visit Bach made the acquaintance of Christian Ludwig (1677-1734), Margrave (or ruler) of Brandenburg, a town in Prussia. That gentleman asked Bach to send him some examples of his music.
After two years’ delay, during which Bach composed a good deal of music, he finally replied to this request. He did so by assembling a set of six concertos for various instruments. Their origins have yet to be established conclusively, but it’s likely that Bach had composed some of them for Prince Leopold’s ensemble, while certain others may date back to before his arrival in Cöthen. After revising and polishing them, Bach sent them off to Brandenburg, a lavish dedication attached. That inscription—which shows that lengthy, flowery thank-yous to wealthy patrons are nothing new!—has earned them the nickname Brandenburg Concertos.
The Margrave showed little interest in them, and they passed, probably unplayed, into a library in Berlin following his death. They were published for the first time in 1850, in an edition marking the centenary of Bach’s birth. It took the recording industry to make them popular, beginning in the 1930s with performances by huge modern symphony orchestras. More recent discs and concert performances have given audiences the chance to hear them in something like the bright, transparent form that Bach envisioned for them.
Each concerto has a different set of star performers: No. 1 presents a violin, two horns and three oboes. It is the only piece of the set to have four movements instead of three. The Finale contains two dances—a Minuet and a Polonaise—interleaved with two contrasting Trio sections.
The composer has provided the following note:
My commission from Manitoba Chamber Orchestra came with a very specific brief: it should be 12 minutes long and be written for a reduced chamber orchestra—strings, two oboes, two horns and a bassoon. This is standard scoring for the dawn of the symphonic repertoire—the very earliest symphonies of Mozart and Haydn, for example. I did think of writing a three-movement homage to those early symphonies, but that is territory that was comprehensively covered by the twentieth-century neoclassicists—and Stravinsky’s legacy loomed too large.
My usual workplace is in the opera house, though I have been dabbling more and more on the orchestral scene recently. Thus, it was no surprise that my twelve-minute curfew conjured up an iconic piece: Rossini’s William Tell Overture. This consists of four very different scenes: an elegy, a storm, a pastoral idyll and the military galop immortalized by the Lone Ranger. But my sketches for Jump Cuts did not start with a narrative or a scene (my usual practice) but with snippets that oddly refused to coalesce. At the same time, on late night TV, I had caught a re-run of an old classic: Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless (with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, the 1960s precursor of all the cool gangster flicks) and the germ of this piece was born. I stopped trying to force what seemed like irreconcilable elements together (a process known as consilience, according to a physicist friend), and studied how Godard pioneered the idea of a jump cut—sequential shots of the same subject taken from different angles, with no transition, or an abrupt segue from one scene to another.
So instead of Rossini’s four distinct scenes, my piece darts around from mood to mood, tempo to tempo, as if the fabric is cut by scissors. The initial idea, a call of two horns, one noisy, and one muted, as if from a distance, is thrown around in a variety of guises, culminating in a kind of drunken dance. Do please make up your own narrative, enjoy the unexpected scenes and landscapes that unfold, and prepare for a few jolts.
By the way, I am told by a film director, that my use of the term ‘jump cut’ is not quite accurate, it should in fact be a ‘smash cut’ (a non-sequitur shot from one unrelated thing to another), but I feel my piece jumps rather than smashes, so forgive the technical inaccuracy for the sake of poetry. (© Julian Grant 2019.)
Concerto for Violin & Cello in B-flat Major, RV 547
Vivaldi and Bach enjoyed a strong mutual admiration, as demonstrated by Bach’s transcribing several Vivaldi concertos for organ solo – a sign of great respect in those times.
Vivaldi’s busy and productive career as composer, violinist and teacher drew its due share of acclaim. In his General History of Music (1776-89), the widely traveled British musicologist Charles Burney wrote, “The most popular composer for the violin, as well as player on that instrument, during these times was Don Antonio Vivaldi … maestro di capella of the Conservatorio della Pietà in Venice.” The Pietà was a foundling home for young women, where Vivaldi taught music for many years.
He played a major role in several significant musical developments, the rise of the concerto above all. His 500-plus concertos—he holds the record for the highest number, by a large margin—feature a wide variety of soloists. As you would expect, the lion’s share, more than 200, focus on the violin.
His reputation suffered a severe lapse following his death, with the sole exception of The Four Seasons. His other music’s return to widespread currency dates only from the years following the Second World War. It returned to favour after two centuries of neglect thanks to the recording industry and the rise in popularity of the chamber orchestra.
In addition to 500 solo concertos, he composed some 40 concertos that feature more than one solo instrument—anywhere from two to 17 of them (see Concerto in C Major, K. 555)! They display an admirable skill at making sure than the soloists, no matter what their number, receive their due time in the spotlight.
Elegie of the Swan and Lark
Elegie of the Swan and Lark is a recitative movement from a Suite of 12 compositions which portrays our natural environment. The Elegie was composed in January 1991 and was originally scored for flute, cello, oboe and string orchestra. For this performance, it has been slightly rearranged with the flute part being performed on the violin. The opening chordal texture describes a pristine lake in northern Ontario; pure and serene in its solitude. The first motivic statement on the cello portrays the grandeur of the Swan on this lake. As the composition progresses, the Lark reveals itself with its own melodic statement. Gradually a discourse between the two develops in the latter part of the composition. At the very end, the Swan and Lark distance themselves from each other and fade away into the stillness of the lake.
Stravinsky shot to fame through his brilliant collaborations with impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his company, The Ballets Russes. The colourful, inventive dance scores The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913) established new standards for the fusion of music, dance and physical production. Their lavishly-scored music shows the influence of the folk-based Russian style Stravinsky had absorbed from his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The First World War temporarily put a halt to the Stravinsky-Diaghilev partnership. Settling in Switzerland, Stravinsky forged a new creative relationship with author Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and conductor Ernest Ansermet. Once the war was over, Diaghilev wished dearly to resume the previous relationship, despite feelings of jealousy over his pet composer’s having “dared” to work with others.
Noting the recent success of The Good-Humoured Ladies, a ballet that his company had mounted and whose score Vincenzo Tommasini had adapted from the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, Diaghilev hatched the idea of creating another ballet with similar origins. After some musicological research in Italian conservatories and the British Museum, he and choreographer Léonide Massine decided that the short-lived but immensely popular composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) was the ideal source for the music.
Stravinsky recalled that as he and Diaghilev strolled down a boulevard in Paris in September 1919, Diaghilev said, “I know you are much taken with your Alpine colleagues, but I have an idea that I think will amuse you more than anything they can propose. I want you to look at some delightful eighteenth-century music with the idea of orchestrating it for a ballet.”
Stravinsky continued, “When he said that the composer was Pergolesi, I thought he must be deranged. I knew Pergolesi only by the Stabat Mater and (the comic opera) La serva padrona, and though I had just seen a production of the latter in Barcelona, Diaghilev knew I wasn’t in the least excited by it. I did promise to look, however, and to give him my opinion. I looked, and I fell in love. My ultimate selection of pieces derived only partly from Diaghilev’s examples, however, and partly from published editions, but I played through the whole of the available Pergolesi before making my choices.”
The scores Stravinsky drew upon include chamber music, solo instrumental pieces and operas. Subsequently it has been determined that some of the music is not in fact by Pergolesi (although it had all been published under his name). Domenico Gallo and Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer have been identified as two of the authentic sources.
Diaghilev, Stravinsky and Massine collaborated on the ballet’s scenario. They based it on a manuscript dating from 1700, setting out the adventures of Pulcinella, a rascally character from the Neapolitan theatre tradition known as commedia dell’arte. The story they settled on is a typically farcical tale of love, jealousy and deception. Stravinsky’s friend Pablo Picasso was brought on board to design the production.
Stravinsky then set gleefully to work. “Pulcinella was composed in a small attic room of the Maison Bornand at Morges,” he wrote. “I began by composing on the Pergolesi manuscripts themselves, as though I were correcting an old work of my own. I began without preconceptions or aesthetic attitudes, and I could not have predicted anything about the result … the remarkable thing about Pulcinella is not how much but how little has been added or changed.”
He chose a pit-sized orchestra of 33. Mirroring eighteenth-century practice, it excludes clarinets and percussion, and sports two separate, interacting groups of strings, one larger than the other. He kept Pergolesi’s melodies and bass lines virtually intact, but placed his own tart stamp upon the music through transformations in harmony, rhythm and phrasing. The full score includes three vocal soloists. They remain in the pit and sing songs that provide additional atmosphere, rather than playing characters in the story.
The premiere took place in Paris on May 15, 1920, with Massine in the title role and Ansermet conducting. The press gave it mixed reviews, but the public adored it. Two years later, Stravinsky prepared this purely instrumental concert suite. It was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Monteux, the conductor who had led the first performances of Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.
Pulcinella’s influence on Stravinsky’s style proved immense and lasting. It appeared at a major turning-point, in both his creative and personal lives. As the newly-established communist regime made his return to the Russia of his youth impossible, so the baroque world of Pulcinella pointed him towards a leaner, more classically oriented western European future.
“Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible,” he wrote. “It was a backward look, of course—the first of many love affairs in that direction—but it was a look in the mirror, too.” He would continue in this neoclassical style (neo-baroque would be equally appropriate) for some 30 years, culminating in the opera The Rake’s Progress (1951). Countless other composers adopted it, too, making it one of the most widespread and durable schools of the twentieth century.