Friday, January 20, 2023 8 pm

Jane Mallett Theatre, 27 Front Street East

Memories and Melodies

Meditation honouring a grandmother, Mozart’s ‘Dissonant’ quartet, and a modern romance for bassoon and marimba






MOZETICH Concerto for Bassoon and Strings with Marimba

MOZART String Quartet No. 19 'Dissonant' orchestra version

Tickets: Adult $44; Senior $37; Student $17; Virtual $17


Program notes

Never to Return by Karen Sunabacka (1975- )

Karen Sunabacka is a composer, cellist and music theorist with deep roots in Manitoba. In demand as a composer she enjoys the challenge of composing, teaching, performing, travelling, and keeping up with the latest science fiction and fantasy book, film, or tv series. Her music has been performed in Canada, the US, Brazil and the UK.

Along with pieces about the natural beauty of the prairies, Karen has recently been exploring her Métis and Manitoba heritage through her mother’s prose (Joyce Clouston). She has written pieces about her Métis Grandmother (Lenore Clouston), her aunt Beverly Clouston and her great-great Grandmother Mathilda, who suffered from mental illness - this evening’s work Never to Return, commissioned in 2013 by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

Karen is currently an Associate Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo. She was recently a Mentor Composer for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ Institute. An active member and past board member of the Canadian New Music Network, she continues on the board of Groundswell, Winnipeg’s New Music Series. She founded Pressure Waves, which is now a regular part of Groundswell’s Emerging Composer program, and the Providence Performing Arts School in Otterburne, Manitoba.

Concerto for Bassoon and orchestra by Marjan Mozetich (1948- )

Marjan Mozetich has provided the following program notes:

Concerto for Bassoon and Strings with Marimba was a joint commission from The Ontario Arts Council and Michael Sweeney. Since it had long been my goal to compose a concerto for each of the orchestral instruments, Michael's request for a bassoon concerto presented me with an ideal opportunity.

Though the bassoon concerto repertoire is large, relatively few examples composed after the Baroque era have permanently entered the repertory. Because of this, I wanted to take up the interesting challenge of writing something that would be not only attractive and compelling, but enduring. I think I've met my first two goals, and as for the last, only time will tell.

The piece is in one continuous movement that can be subdivided into an introduction, allegro, adagio, allegro, and a return to the introductory material. The entire work is derived from the initial melodic line of the bassoon. Overall, it is a voyage beginning with an entreating bassoon solo that invites the orchestra to participate in a journey of the pleasures and pains, joys and sadness of music.

String Quartet No. 19, “Dissonant” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Orchestra version by Nurhan Arman

This is the last of the six quartets that Mozart dedicated to Joseph Haydn. In his dedication, Mozart calls the works his sons, whom he is sending out into the world, entrusting them to the guidance of a celebrated man and good friend. Mozart acknowledged learning to write quartets from Haydn, and must have been thrilled to have him present when this quartet was premiered, with Wolfgang himself playing the viola part. Mozart and Haydn greatly esteemed each other, each publicly praising the other’s musical abilities. Haydn, who lived and composer into his seventies, was distraught when his young friend died at only thirty-five.

The Quartet in C Major has been nicknamed “Dissonant” because of the tense, unresolved harmonies in the slow introduction to its first movement. The tension is released by the entrance of the cheerful allegro theme in c major. The minor-key development section breaks up the allegro theme, but the movement soon regains its good humour in the recapitulation.

The second movement calls to mind some of the lyrical, slower arias in Mozart’s operas, with duets and echoing lines, especially between the violin and cello parts, and beautiful, singing ensemble sections for all the instrumental lines together. The third movement Menuetto is full of contrast, juxtaposing imitation and unison passages and a dramatic minor-key opening for the middle Trio section.

The Allegro molto fourth movement shows the influence of Haydn’s witty finales and pays tribute to them with a repeated-note motif which both propels the musical action at some times and interrupts the movement’s sunny momentum at others, even causing a few stalls which Mozart blithely escapes. One last Haydn-esque joke teases listeners; just when we expect this sonata form’s final bars, the introduction’s chromatic notes reappear, only to be quickly dismissed with a last burst of good cheer.


Samuel Fraser, Bassoonist holds the position of principal bassoon of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, he is a former member of the Daraja Ensemble, and an active freelancer in Toronto. He has played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Chamber Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He holds a Masters of Music from the University of Maryland where he was a member of their fellowship chamber music program, and holds a Bachelors of Music from the Eastman School of Music. His principal teachers were Eric Hall, Sue Heineman, John Hunt, and Fei Xie.

Sinfonia Toronto now in its 24th season, has toured twice in Europe, in the US, South America and China, receiving glowing reviews. It has released four CD’s, including a JUNO Award winner, and performs in many Ontario cities. Its extensive repertoire includes all the major string orchestra works of the 18th through 21st centuries, and it has premiered many new works. Under the baton of Nurhan Arman the orchestra’s performances present outstanding international guest artists and prominent Canadian musicians.

Maestro Nurhan Arman has conducted throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and the US, returning regularly to many orchestras in Europe. Among the orchestras Maestro Arman has conducted are the Moscow Philharmonic, Deutsches Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Filarmonica Italiana, St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra, Orchestre Regional d’Ile de France, Hungarian Symphony, Arpeggione Kammerorchester, Milano Classica and Belgrade Philharmonic.

Sinfonia Toronto respectfully acknowledges that we work in the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee peoples