Frontier Fiddlers
Red River Reverie

How lucky we are to welcome back the Frontier Fiddlers!

Made up of students in the Frontier School Division, the group represents la crème de la crème of young fiddle players in the province. They’ll treat us to a spectacular medley of Red River jigs and traditional folk music. The Frontier Fiddlers and the orchestra will also together perform a new work by favourite Winnipeg composer Jim Hiscott.

After intermission, the MCO will perform Bach’s second violin concerto, with all the pomp it deserves. Then on to Bartok’s Divertimento, a famous 20th-century work that harkens back to the light-hearted 18th-century musical form that is its namesake.

The Frontier Fiddlers

They come from as far away as Grand Rapids, Matheson Island, Berens River, and Norway House. They play Red River jigs with breakneck speed. And all of them are teenagers or younger.

The Frontier Fiddlers are a select group of talented Frontier School Division students. They performed for Her Majesty The Queen during her last visit to Winnipeg, and played a pre-concert recital at an MCO concert in 2010. They maintain a special connection with the MCO through our northern outreach group, ‘Fiddlers on the Loose,’ who have led several workshops for the Frontier Fiddlers.

Evening concert at 7:30 pm, hour-long matinee concert at 1:00 pm. Both concerts February 14th at Westminster United Church. Tickets for both shows are $34 adults, $32 seniors and $10 students (incl. GST). You can buy tickets to both concerts through MCO’s Ticketline (204) 783-7377 or on this page. Tickets for evening concert also available at McNally Robinson, the West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice at Sherbrook) & Organic Planet, (877 Westminster Ave).

Click above to add ticket to cart; adjust quantity in cart; click ‘Continue Shopping’ for other tickets.

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster United Church
14 February 2017

Karl Stobbe, leader and violin soloist
The Frontier Fiddlers

Fiddle medley

Jim Hiscott
Water Circle
Manitoba Arts Council commission
World premiere performance

Johann Sebastian Bach
Violin Concerto No. 2, in E Major, BWV 1042

Béla Bartók
Divertimento for Strings

Concert sponsors / Dr. R.T. & Mrs. Angela B. Ross
Concertmaster sponsor / Sunny Oh

The Frontier Fiddlers

Made up of students in the Frontier School Division, the Frontier Fiddlers represents la crème de la crème of young fiddle players in the province.

They come from all corners of the province: from Churchill, Brochet, and Waterhen to Falcon Lake, and they play Red River jigs with breakneck speed … and all of them are teenagers or younger.

With appearances in many different communities, and numerous talented young players eager to join their ranks, their members shift a fair amount according to season and location of performance. But their roots are firmly in Manitoba. They’ve performed with The Pas Trappers’ Festival, Festival du Voyageur, and at conferences held by the Canadian School Boards Association, Manitoba Association of School Trustees, Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. They also performed for Her Majesty The Queen during her last visit to Winnipeg, and played a pre-concert recital at an MCO concert in 2010.

Members enjoy their energetic, finger-blistering performances as much as audiences do—a result of the tremendous dedication they show to their craft and the deeply Manitoban tradition of the Red River Jig.

Jim Hiscott

Jim Hiscott was born in 1948 in St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1971, after earning a Master’s Degree in Theoretical Particle Physics, he switched to music composition, studying with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music and David Lidov and Richard Teitelbaum at York University. His compositions have been performed across North America, and in Europe and Asia by many artists including the Hilliard Ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver New Music Society ensemble, Rivka Golani, Arraymusic, and Philadelphia’s Relâche.

Jim Hiscott has performed his own works for button accordion in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival, the Vancouver New Music Society series, Toronto’s Big Squeeze Festival, and on the main stage of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. He has appeared as button accordion soloist with several major Canadian symphony orchestras.

Recent premieres of music by Jim Hiscott include Spiral, performed by violists Daniel and Michael Scholz; I Spoke to No One, given by the GroundSwell Ensemble; The Song of the Stars, for soprano Maria-Luz Alvarez with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra; Manimasii Aura (button accordion and chamber ensemble), performed by Simeonie Keenainak and the CBC Radio Orchestra; Beating Heart (solo violin and button accordion with chamber orch.), performed by Atis Bankas, Jim Hiscott, and the Orchestra of St. Mark’s; In Memoriam Walter Klymkiw (SATB choir, soloists, and violin solo), given by the Oleksandr Koshetz Choir with vocal soloists and violinist Gwen Hoebig; and North Wind (dizi and orchestra), played by Xiao-Nan Wang and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

String Quartet #2 from his CBC Records compact disc Blue Ocean / Music of Jim Hiscott was nominated for Outstanding Classical Composition at the 2004 Western Canadian Music Awards.

Water Circle
Jim Hiscott

The composer has provided the following note:

Water Circle is inspired by the Métis fiddle music of Manitoba and the Prairies, and by an incident I witnessed this past summer at Lake of the Woods. Five adult loons suddenly appeared close to where I was standing—probably two parents and three grown offspring —and formed a tight circle moving clockwise, practically head-to-tail. After doing this for a few minutes, they broke apart, and then all dived underwater, maybe to look for fish. Then two came up and took off in one of the wild dances these birds often do, racing across the water, one after the other, while the other three watched. Why the circle-dance? A fishing ritual? What had happened underwater? I’ve always been amazed by loons, and loved their many different calls; but this was a real mystery, and will remain so.

Métis fiddle music has been an inspiration for me throughout my 30-plus years in Manitoba, in my button accordion playing as well as in my composed music. The particular feel and the ‘hoppy’ jigging dances are infectious and unlike any other music. This piece includes two new reels—one two-part and the other three-part—as well as interlocking loon calls. I'm very honoured to be able to write for the Frontier Fiddlers, who play this music so well, and for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, who do such wonderful work with young musicians in communities all around Manitoba.

Water Circle was commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council.

Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major, BWV 1042
Johann Sebastian Bach

No direct evidence is available to place Bach’s violin concertos at a particular time in his career. In terms of style and activities, the six years he spent in the German town of Anhalt-Cöthen seem the most likely period. He was a skillful violinist, although he was far better known as an organist. Carl Philipp Emanuel, the most famous of his sons, stated: “In his youth, and until the approach of old age, he played the violin cleanly and penetratingly.” Bach wrote exceptionally well for the violin because as Carl continues, “He understood to perfection the possibilities of all stringed instruments.” Many Bach concertos exist in arrangements featuring a variety of solo instruments. He transcribed this glowing Violin Concerto in E Major for harpsichord. The outer sections bustle with energy. The most remarkable portion is the slow second movement, an especially beautiful creation with the character of a vocal aria.

Divertimento for Strings
Béla Bartók

The commission for this work—Bartók’s sole composition for string orchestra—came from Swiss conductor Paul Sacher. This enterprising and discerning musician commissioned an impressive number of works which have earned the stature of twentieth-century classics, thus playing a significant role in making the chamber orchestra a favoured medium of the period. The list of works he requested included music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Strings); Richard Strauss (Metamorphosen, which the MCO will be performing on 26 April); Arthur Honegger (Symphonies 2 and 4); Paul Hindemith (Harmony of the World Symphony); Frank Martin (Petite symphonie concertante); and another, previous work by Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.

In his second commission to Bartók, Sacher specifically asked for something shorter and lighter, and Bartók obliged. He composed this Divertimento in August 1939, in the restful retreat of Sacher’s Alpine chalet. It was not only the nature of Sacher’s request and the ideal working conditions under which Bartók composed it that account for its character, but also the overall relaxation and lightening of tone in his music. This trend would continue in further works such as the Concerto for Orchestra and Piano Concerto No. 3. Sacher conducted the Basle Chamber Orchestra in the Divertimento’s premiere on 11 June 1940.

Bartók may have had in mind such entertainment-oriented works as Mozart’s Classical-era divertimenti when he began the piece. However, in terms of style and texture, it turned out to have much more in common with the concerto grosso, a Baroque-era form founded upon the interaction of two bodies of strings, one larger than the other. Folk-inflected dance rhythms drive the Divertimento’s bright, appealing outer movements. The slow central movement is much different. Something of the political turmoil of the times may have made its way into it. It displays a strong vein of pathos, underpinned by dark, restless undercurrents.