Vivaldi, Haydn, and Lau, with a special appearance by Caitlin Broms-Jacobs
Please note there are no door sales for the immediate future — all tickets must be purchased online or over the phone (204-783-7377). Please review our ticket and social gathering policies before ordering your tickets for, and attending, our 2021-22 concerts.
• Buy April 26th in-person ticket (incl. online) | $36 Adult | $34 Senior | $15 Under-30
• Buy April 27th in-person ticket (incl. online) | $36 Adult | $34 Senior | $15 Under-30
• Buy May 10th online-only ticket | $20 Household ticket
At long last we have the chance to premiere MCO Composer-in-Residence, Kevin Lau’s Prayer in a Green Cathedral.
Lau, whose gorgeous Writ in Water floored audiences across Canada when we toured it in 2019, is one of Canada’s brightest young composers. His exceptional new oboe concerto, Prayer in a Green Cathedral, is almost certainly destined to take a prominent place in that repertoire. It was written specifically for the “always sublime” (Winnipeg Free Press) oboist Caitlin Broms-Jacobs, who stars as the work’s soloist.
On the contemporary side of the program there’s also Odaline Martinez’s Four AfroCuban Poems. The first woman to conduct the BBC proms, Martinez is also an exceptional composer whose work is performed all over the world.
This evening’s four-courser includes two servings of baroque. Before Lau’s concerto we’ll hear Vivaldi’s Double Concerto for Viola and Cello. Desiree Abbey (cello) and Pamela Fay (viola), both much admired and well-known to MCO audiences, take on the piece’s soloist roles. They’ll knock it out of the park. And for dessert, we’ll enjoy Haydn’s Symphony No. 52 in C Minor. Known as the grandfather of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, it’s not surprising that Haydn’s dramatic, 30-minute symphony is among the most mature in Haydn’s “storm and desire” period. Perfect: we prefer our desserts rich and in big slices.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster Church in Wolseley
Tuesday & Wednesday, 26 & 27 April 2022
Online presentation 10 May 2022
Anne Manson, conductor
Pamela Fay, viola
Desiree Abbey, cello
Caitlin Broms-Jacobs, oboe
Simone Ibbett-Brown, mezzo-soprano
Double Concerto for Viola and Cello, RV 531 in G Minor
Prayer in a Green Cathedral
World premiere performance, commissioned by the MCO with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts
Four AfroCuban Poems, Mezzo
Canadian premiere performance
Symphony No. 52 in C Minor
MCO Principal Violist Pamela Fay grew up in Vancouver and is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she studied with Lorand Fenyves. She participated in the Banff Summer Music Festival where she was coached by William Primrose and members of the Hungarian and Orford String Quartets. Ms Fay has been a member of the Vancouver and Toronto Symphonies and was Assistant Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Since moving to Philadelphia, she has performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and is a regular substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In addition to being violist with the Amerita and 1807 & Friends chamber ensembles, Ms Fay is a member of the Wister Quartet and has performed in chamber music concerts with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Alicia de Larrocha, Garrick Ohlsson, Andrew Davis, Janos Starker, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Christoph Eschenbach and Yo-Yo Ma among others. She also teaches and performs at Interlochen Center for the Arts in the summer.
Canadian cellist Desiree Abbey performs regularly with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra as Principal Cellist and as an extra musician with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She has appeared as a soloist with the Guelph Symphony, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, and National Repertory Orchestra and is delighted to be performing for Manitoba audiences this season with the MCO. Desiree has previously served as principal cellist for the National Repertory Orchestra, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, touring Europe under Christoph Eschenbach, and as assistant principal cellist for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
A silver lining of the pandemic was the forging of a new partnership with her husband, Chris Lee, principal tuba of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Duo Tubello explores the lush and unexpected soundscape where the worlds of brass and strings collide.
Desiree received a B.M. from Cleveland Institute of Music with Desmond Hoebig. Through CIM’s Intensive Quartet Seminar, she worked closely with Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet, learning the art of community engagement and performing in masterclasses for many of today’s great chamber ensembles. Summers at Kneisel Hall and Music Academy of the West further compounded her love of chamber music.
She holds a M.M. and Artist Diploma from Mannes The New School For Music in New York City with Timothy Eddy. Memorable performances venues include Carnegie Hall with various NYC ensembles such as Ensemble 212, New York String Orchestra Seminar and for the Violoncello Society of New York.
Fascinated with neuroscience and its application to pedagogy, Desiree is a dedicated teacher recognized by the RCM as a Gold Medal teacher. She maintains a private Suzuki studio and also teaches for Orkidstra, Ottawa’s El Sistema inspired program.
When not performing or teaching, she is a fledgling gardener and enjoys being outdoors with her husband and their two Winnipeg-born children.
Caitlin Broms-Jacobs is the principal oboist of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, a position she has held since 2009. Caitlin is renowned for her “gorgeous, singing tone” (Winnipeg Free Press) and has been lauded as “stellar” and “a delightfully musical player, with elegant tone and delivery” (Winnipeg Free Press). Caitlin has been featured several times as a soloist with the MCO; she can also often be heard performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as guest principal oboist. Caitlin has appeared as guest principal oboist for the Calgary Philharmonic and the Group of 27 Chamber Orchestra and has performed with orchestras across Canada including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. Caitlin served as principal oboist of the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev, and has played under esteemed conductors such as Andrey Boreyko, Jun Markl, JoAnn Falletta, Nello Santi, Yakov Kreizberg, Bramwell Tovey, Daniel Raiskin, and Anne Manson. Caitlin previously held the position of principal oboist of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, Caitlin has presented numerous recitals in Winnipeg and across Canada, and has been featured for many seasons on Winnipeg’s Millennium recital series. She has premiered contemporary works for oboe for GroundSwell new music; her performances have been broadcast on CBC radio and Classic 107. Originally from Toronto, Caitlin studied with Keith Atkinson at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Young Artists Performance Academy. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Richard Killmer. Caitlin furthered her musical education with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra principal oboist Eugene Izotov.
Described as a “self-assured voice” (Barczablog) with a “masterful control over his idiom” (Classical Music Sentinel), Kevin Lau is one of Canada’s most sought-after composers. Awarded the 2017 Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynn-Staunton Award for outstanding achievement in music, Kevin’s work has been commissioned and performed by ensembles across North America, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Tampa Bay Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Made in Canada, Octagon, Hannaford Street Silver Band, and the Houston-based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. He currently serves as Composer in Residence for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
In 2016, he composed the score for the National Ballet of Canada’s full-length ballet Le Petit Prince, featuring choreography by NBOC Principal Dancer Guillaume Côté. His second ballet, Dark Angels, commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra and also choreographed by Côté, was described as “riveting” (Ottawa Citizen) and “extraordinarily accomplished and expressive” (Artsfile). His most recent large-scale work Bound, an opera-film hybrid commissioned by Against the Grain Theatre, was hailed by the Globe and Mail as “a brilliant creation.”
Kevin’s discography includes two JUNO award-winning albums: Detach (Redshift, harpist Angela Schwarzkopf) and Mosaïque (Ensemble Made in Canada.) Other albums include Solo Seven (ATMA Classique, violinist Marc Djokic), which won Best Album at the 2020 East Coast Music Awards; the JUNO-nominated Spin Cycle (Centrediscs, Afiara Quartet and DJ Skratch Bastid); and Encount3rs (Analekta, National Arts Centre Orchestra.)
Born in Hong Kong, Kevin received his doctorate in 2012 from the University of Toronto under the supervision of Christos Hatzis; shortly after, he was appointed Affiliate Composer of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra until 2015. He is also an active film composer, and has written the scores to over a dozen films, including Charles Officer’s acclaimed documentary Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018).
At age 34, Cuban American composer and conductor Odaline Martinez was the first woman to conduct a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall and has since conducted major orchestras all over the world.
Martinez has received numerous awards, including a Marshall Scholarship from the British Government and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and received the Villa Lobos Medal from the Brazilian Government. In 2017, Martinez received a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2019 a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Surrey, a Gold Badge from the Ivors Academy of Composers and Songwriters, and a Lukas Lifetime Achievement Award for her achievement as a woman and a member of the Latin American Community. In 2020, Martinez was made Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey.
In 2015, Martinez was awarded an Opera America grant to make the film Selected Scenes from Imoinda, Part I of her opera Trilogy Imoinda—A Story of Love and Slavery with the New York company Opera Ebony. The Crossing (part II of the Trilogy) was premiered in New Orleans, with the Louisiana Philharmonic, soloists and the Tulane and Xavier University choirs while at Tulane University as composer in residence. The work was Premiered in the UK at The Fifth London Festival of American Music.
In 2016, Martinez received awards from the Cintas Foundation (US) and the PRS for Music Foundation (UK) completing Suite from Imoinda in September 2018 and Plantation (Part III of the Imoinda trilogy) in October 2018. The complete trilogy received its World Premiere in 2019 at the 7th London Festival of American Music.
Martinez’s opera trilogy Imoinda—A Story of Love and Slavery received its World Premiere at the 7th London Festival of American Music in 2019 to critical acclaim. Recent commissions include Cuban Dances for the European Lilith Ensemble and Four Afro Cuban Poems for the London Festival of American Music premiered in September 2021.
Simone Ibbett-Brown is a mezzo-soprano and opera-maker passionate about work that reflects and affects the world we live in.
Recent performance highlights include Mami Wata (Royal Opera House, Pegasus Opera); Grace in Bryony Kimmings’ Opera Mums (BBC Four); Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days (West Green House Opera); Jo in Lustrum Award-winner Dead Equal (Summerhall); A Woman in English National Opera and Dutch National Opera’s Olivier Award-winning Porgy and Bess; cover Annie in the same opera (Theater an der Wien); and workshopping Esther in Mamzer Bastard (Royal Opera House, Guildhall School of Music and Drama). The 2021/22 season also saw roles in Der Ring des Nibelungen (Gafa Arts), Bloom Britannia (Barefoot Opera), and fashion-opera RUNE (UU Studios); as well as the premiere of trailblazer Odaline de la Martinez’s Four Afro Cuban Poems at the London Festival of American Music. Forthcoming highlights in 2022 include her first Amneris in Aida (Opera Festival Scotland), and the eponymous hero of Don Quixote in a brand new operetta (West Green House Opera).
She trained at the University of York and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she was recently appointed a Junior Fellow. Before training in classical voice, she was a backing vocalist for artists including Mercury Award-winner Benjamin Clementine.
Simone is also an opera-maker and published playwright, who has been commissioned to write or direct innovative, joyous and political works of music theatre for the Edinburgh International Festival, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Soho Theatre, and more. She is joint artistic director of Hera, celebrating and sharing music and stories you haven’t heard before, by minoritised artists, right across the UK.
Simone is honoured to be a BBC Radio 3 Next Generation Voice 2019 and a winner of the Women of the Future Awards 2020 in the Arts and Culture category. Visit simoneibbettbrown.com and wearehera.co.uk.
Concerto for Viola and Cello in G Minor, RV 531
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), 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.
His reputation suffered a severe lapse following his death. His 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.
This double concerto—originally for two cellos, which you will hear today in a transcription featuring viola and cello soloists—is one of the most sombre of all Vivaldi’s instrumental works. It remains firmly rooted in the minor mode throughout all three movements. He treated the soloists as equals, at times performing together, and engaging in dialogue at other moments. The vigorous but stern outer movements frame the eloquent sorrow of the slow second.
Prayer in a Green Cathedral, Concerto for Oboe & Strings
The composer has provided the following note:
In February of 2020, oboist Caitlin Broms-Jacobs and I met to discuss the new concerto I was writing for her and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. She expressed a desire for a work that would take advantage of the oboe’s natural lyricism, and I was happy to oblige. My early sketches seemed to suggest a work that would be fundamentally sunny and romantic in disposition. This ‘sunniness’ is still reflected in the opening bars, where the oboe intones an expressive, cantabile melody atop a bed of shimmering F-sharp minor. This melody, to me, suggests a seed with the potential of new life; indeed, it becomes the motivic spine of the whole concerto, growing in all directions like the branches of a tree.
This pastoral imagery—of trees and deep lakes and dark forests—suffused my imagination during the creation of the work’s first few minutes. It was around this time that I stumbled across a painting by the Cuban painter Tomás Sánchez, titled ‘Prayer in a Green Cathedral.’ I found both the title and the painting—in which the boughs of an idyllic forest form the outline of an arch, like the entrance to Nature’s cathedral—immensely evocative, mirroring the spirit with which I was writing this music, and chose to give the concerto this name.
As the music unfolds, however, the music begins to darken, as I found myself gripped by the archetype of the forest as the site of (often painful) transformation. The music passes through several stages—from a slow, hymn-like procession, to a scherzo teeming with mysteries, to a spirited dance with glimpses of radiance—before culminating in a cadenza for the soloist. The coda attempts to revisit the joy of the opening, but the joy proves elusive; a desolate denouement in C minor (the farthest interval from F-sharp) awaits, and we hear an inversion of the initial melody on the solo violin, its character tragically altered.
No doubt the challenging events of 2020—some personal, others experienced by nearly everyone—played a role in the eventual course taken by this music. I hope, nonetheless, that Prayer in a Green Cathedral will prove ultimately an uplifting experience for those performing it, and for those listening.
Four Afro Cuban Poems
Odaline de la Martinez
Four Afro Cuban Poems is based on four poems from Nicolás Guillén’s Motivos de son (1930.) Guillén was a Cuban poet, journalist, political activist, and writer, best remembered as the national poet of Cuba. His poetry was published from the early 1920s, when Afro Cuban sounds and instruments were changing the world of Cuban music. It was not until the 1930s, however, that Guillén’s work would appeal as a personal expression of the struggles, dreams, and mannerisms of Afro Cubans. Guillén was acknowledged by many critics as the most influential of those Latin American poets who dealt with African themes and re-created African song and dance rhythms in literary form. His first collection of poetry, Motivos de son, which gained international recognition, mirrors the speech, music and highly rhythmic Afro Cuban language. It is thought to have been influenced by his meeting with the African-American poet, Langston Hughes, and stood out in the literary world because it established the importance of Afro Cuban culture as a valid genre in Cuban literature. Most of the poems are about the relationships between men and women.
Bucate Plata is sassy, with a strong sense of attitude. A woman tells her lover to go and find some money so she can eat because she’s down to rice and crackers. Her man has new shoes and a beautiful watch. If things don’t get better, she’s leaving. In Tu No Sabe Ingle, a woman teases and tells a man to stop boasting about his English because he doesn’t even know how to say “yes.” An American woman is looking for him, but he must get away because his English is down to strike one, two, three. Sigue is a short poem where a man warns another to keep walking, and not to stop and talk to a certain woman. She’s no good, no good. Mi Chiquita means ‘my little woman.’ It’s joyful and looks at the Afro Cuban culture from a 1930s male point of view.
Symphony No. 52 in C Minor
Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) was a widespread and artistically significant Austro-German style, both of music and literature. In music, it flourished from the late 1760s to the mid-1780s. It took its name from a stage play that German author Friedrich Klinger wrote in 1776. The style had been anticipated by an entire group of Austrian composers, such as Gassmann, Vanhal, Ordoñez—and most significantly, Haydn.
Its primary quality was the portrayal of extreme emotions, primarily dark and nervous ones, a marked change from the polite, rather rigid style of the recent past. Sturm und Drang symphonies were much admired by composers of the succeeding era (Beethoven, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, et al.), who heard in them a precursor of their own intensely Romantic music.
Haydn’s Symphony No. 52 has often been singled out not only as a Sturm und Drang Symphony but also as a founding work of the great line of compositions in C Minor by various composers. This key became associated with noble struggle, and either triumph over adversity or a redeeming sort of tragedy. Prime examples include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 and two great works of Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 3.
During the later 1760s and early 1770s, Haydn composed a number of symphonies in Sturm und Drang style, including such often-performed pieces as No. 45, the unique ‘Farewell’ Symphony in which the players gradually leave the stage, and No. 49, ‘La Passione.’ He may have intended No. 49 to reflect the tragic events of Christ’s Passion and to be performed in churches during the Easter season.
The same may be true of Haydn’s Symphony No. 52, another Sturm und Drang work. He composed it either in 1771 or 1772. The noted musicologist H.C. Robbins Landon referred to it as “the grandfather of Beethoven’s Fifth … In many respects, the outer movements of the C Minor Symphony are the sternest and most uncompromising of Haydn’s whole symphonic career.”
Haydn constructed the first movement upon a dark, driving first theme and a second subject that offers only the briefest taste of contrasting serenity. This is music of considerable boldness and impact. The second movement provides an oasis of calm without totally jettisoning every gram of the first movement’s shadowed energy. The ensuing Minuet roams freely from the genial to the unsettling. Regarding the driving finale, Landon wrote, “The angry syncopations and the pauses look forward to Haydn’s greatest pupil, Ludwig van Beethoven.”