Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s New Season Features Winspear Audiences



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The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra opened its new season at the Winspear Center last weekend with its first live concert since March 2020. It was a rather unusual program of a Haydn symphony, a movement by Bach and ‘a symphonic poem by Wagner, with only the conducted Wagner.


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ESO’s new season is modest – reasonably, given the uncertainty over new health restrictions. There are seven concerts by November 19: three, including the opening concert, are mainstream classical, two are “classic pops”, there is one for children and another is new music. . Since there will be social distancing in the Winspear, and therefore a reduction in seating, all concerts except the new music program will be repeated.

So far at least, no outside soloist has been invited, and no guest conductor except Lucas Waldin, who has long been associated with the orchestra and who this year conducted the Symphony under the Sky. Likewise, there are no works requiring a very large orchestra, thus eliminating the need to hire additional musicians.


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Live the season lightly

ESO is closely related to Winspear, and the concert hall has a very small series of events booked otherwise. All of this suggests tight budget cuts, perhaps understandable with the impact of the pandemic.

Friday’s concert opened rather quietly with the Largo from Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043. It was lovingly performed by the happy combination of solo violin Robert Uchida and associated solo violin Eric Buchmann, but we would rather have regretted that the season had started. in a more festive way.

Robert Uchida, left, and Eric Buchmann perform as soloists with the Edmonton <a class=Symphony Orchestra on October 1.” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” data-src=”https://smartcdn.prod.postmedia.digital/edmontonjournal/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/1007_you_eso_5-w.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288″ data-srcset=”https://smartcdn.prod.postmedia.digital/edmontonjournal/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/1007_you_eso_5-w.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288,
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Robert Uchida, left, and Eric Buchmann perform as soloists with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on October 1. Photo by Eric Kozakiewicz Photography /Eric Kozakiewicz

He ended with the orchestra in a much more upbeat form with Hadyn’s Symphony No. 104, clearly reveling in the freedom to perform at Winspear again. They played without a conductor – an interesting experience, but it turned out to be a lack of dynamic contrasts and less than crisp entries. I was wondering if the orchestra just wasn’t too big to try this: the premiere in the London concert hall in 1795 would have used smaller forces.


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The highlight of the concert was an extraordinary and extraordinarily beautiful rendition of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, performed with an enlarged string body compared to the original 13-player version. Conductor Alexander Prior’s performance was very personal, taking it very slowly and surprisingly bringing out connections to the Ring cycle, which would have been inappropriate (and impossible) for the original version.

It wasn’t perfect – it could have been done with a faster pace and swell leading up to the climax – but Prior has a great Canadian precedent for this approach: Glenn Gould’s only studio recording as conductor. orchestra had almost exactly similar overall timing.


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There were some jaw-dropping magical moments, mirroring strings playing on a level that this orchestra simply couldn’t have achieved just a few years ago, before Prior conducted.

Possible outcome of the prior

If this is Prior’s last season with the orchestra – Winspear’s website said when announcing the season, though that statement has since been deleted – his talents will be sorely missed. .

ESO Principal Cellist Raphael Hoekman and Assistant Principal Cello Julie Hereish will perform Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor on October 21 and 23. .9, little known but surprisingly bright and witty.


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Prior loves Sibelius, and will conduct selections for Pelléas et Mélisande, Opus 46, on November 5 and 6. The concert will also include Torelli’s Trumpet Sonata and Mozart’s hugely popular Symphony No. 40.

The new music concert features works by contemporary Canadian female composers – very welcome, especially as the orchestra will finally play the music of Edmonton composer Vivian Fung. There are seven featured composers, as well as Edmonton’s newest poet laureate, Titilope Sonuga. The pieces are therefore quite short, and it’s a shame that ESO doesn’t show that there are great, longer works by Canadian female composers – Fung’s recent Violin Concerto would have been an obvious candidate. ESO assistant chef Cosette Justo Valdés is conducting on November 19.


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Classical pops are in the spotlight in a concert of music to Latin rhythms, including the famous Begin the Beguine by Cole Porter and two virtuoso pieces by Sarasate, conducted by Justo Valdés from October 7 to 9.

Waldin leads a rivers-themed program that includes Strauss (the Blue Danube), Gershwin’s Swanee, and Shenandoah, and these concerts, which take place October 27, 29, and 30, feature Edmonton’s oral creation poet Brandon Wint.

The children’s concert will include two performances of the classic Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, conducted by Justo Valdés on November 13.

This season’s concerts will be performed without an intermission and will be limited to 75 minutes. Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 48 hours will be required, and masks should be worn in the Winspear Center. There are no season tickets; instead, ESO has implemented a membership program, at $ 34 or $ 59 per month depending on the seats – each concert you book that month is then $ 10 more.

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Edmonton Symphony Orchestra season opens

DriverAlexander Prior

SoloistsEric Buchmann and Robert Uchida

Or Winspear Center, 4 Winston Churchill Square.

WhenOctober 1-3



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