Capriccio Ballo for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra by Alice Ping Yee Ho (1960 - )
Notes by the composer
Capriccio is a title used by various 19th-Century composers, among them Mendelssohn and Brahms. In a similar way I use Capriccio Ballo to describe this single movement composition which is whimsical and capricious in nature. Inspired by the classical spirit of clarity and virtuosity, this piece is created by adapting a free rondo form with a variety of motifs based on repeated notes figures. Throughout the composition, the music is dramatized by vigorous dynamic variations, and there is a constant intensive interplay between the solo violin, piano, and strings. Bearing a similar instrumentation to Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Strings in D minor, this composition is written as a tribute to all classically trained instrumentalists. The up-lifting spirit and energetic demeanor of the piece generate a showcase for both soloists and string orchestra.
Arabesque for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra by Christos Hatzis (1953 - )
Notes by the composer
In many respects, Arabesque is an autobiographical work, but its four movements can also be seen as a metaphorical depiction of four stages of one’s life cycle, starting with the childhood purity and innocence of the first movement, through the rambunctious, disco-like exuberance of the second, in which the first seeds of introspection are also sown, to the introverted, moody, coming-of-age third movement and, finally, to the defiant refusal to surrender in the finale, which at the very end nods briefly to the main theme of the first movement. (This “nod” signifies the re-discovery of the innocence of childhood and the understanding that only through such rediscovery is it possible to move forward and grow further). The various contradictory musical genres coexisting in Arabesque point to a post-“post-modern” understanding of structure as metaphor: of some lessons learned; of some wisdom gained; of willingness to apply all this towards renewed action.
Serenade for Strings by Antonín Dvorák (1841 - 1904)
Antonín Dvorák was born into a poor family in rural Bohemia. Fortunately, his talent won him admission to the Prague Conservatory and then to the violin section of the National Theatre Orchestra, conducted by composer Bedrich Smetana, whose operas made a strong impression on him. By 1873 he was teaching and composing more than playing. HIs works attracted the attention of Johannes Brahms, who arranged for publication and promotion of Dvorák’s works by his own publisher, Simrock, one of Europe’s most prominent. With a growing reputation over the next eight years, in 1891 Dvorák was appointed to the faculty of the Prague Conservatory.
Dvorák composed his Serenade within just two weeks in May of 1875, a joyous time in his life: he had a happy young marriage, his first son had just been born, and his works were receiving increased recognition. The Serenade reflects all this by following the classical style of a multi-movement work that is rather light in tone, meant to be entertaining rather than profound; but Dvorák’s joy and his passionate musicality shine forth so intensely that the Serenade becomes symphonic in scope, and in many places deeply moving. Its expressive harmonies, clear counterpoint, coherent form and masterful use of the strings as choir all combine to make it one of the greatest works ever composed for string orchestra.
The Serenade is in five movements. Except for the finale, which is in modified sonata form, each movement is essentially an A-B-A structure. But each is more sophisticated and intricate than this basic scheme indicates. Dvorák juxtaposes contrasting melodic ideas and develops them in imaginative ways, often using imitation and counterpoint to extend his themes. The first movement opens with a flowing melody punctuated by fragments of its own beginning in the cellos and bass; more counterpoint adds texture to each of the successive movements.
The warm and expressive first movement is followed by a splendid waltz, lightly tinged with minor-key nostalgia. The Scherzo includes a well-developed Trio section for contrast, like minuet movements in classical serenades, and has a concluding coda that incorporates material from the main Scherzo itself and from the Trio, lengthening and adding nuance to its A-B-A form. After a tender slow movement, the Finale bursts with the gaiety of a Bohemian village dance. In the midst of this celebration, Dvorák recalls the melody of the slow movement and then the opening of the first movement, gracefully rounding off a musical cycle.
Christina Petrowska Quilico, Pianist - In 2020, Canada’s Governor General named pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico to the Order of Canada, citing her “for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist, and for championing Canadian music”. In 2021 she was also named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s “highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences.”
Just in 2021 alone, she has received other significant recognition for a lifetime devoted to her art. CBC Radio Two named her to the In Concert Hall of Fame, celebrating the greatest Canadian classical musicians of all time, past and present. At York University, where she is a Full Professor, she was one of the esteemed winners of the university’s annual research awards in 2021 – after having been selected as a 2020 York Research Leader.
While live concerts were mostly put on hold because of the Covid 19 lockdowns, Petrowska Quilico was garnering kudos for three new CDs she released on the Navona label – Sound Visionaries (French composers Debussy, Messiaen and Pierre Boulez), Retro Americana and Vintage Americana. This last ended 2021 on four best-of lists – The Piano Street Team (one of five Recommended New Piano Albums); Ludwig van.com – Classical Music: Discovering 2021’s Lesser Known Gems (one of eight CDs); CBC Music – Chosen by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) music hosts and producers as one of Canada’s top 21 classical albums of 2021; and Art Music Lounge – “What a Performance!” award as one of the most outstanding recordings of the year. It was also Bronze Medal winner in the classical category of the Global Music Awards.
She is the recipient of the Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and Canadian League of Composers and was selected as one of the CMC’s Ambassadors of Canadian music. She has been on the CBC lists of “20 Can’t-Miss Classical Pianists” and “Canada’s 25 greatest classical pianists”.
Ottawa-born – of mostly Polish ancestry, with ancestors also from Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Germany, Wales and Russia – Christina Petrowska Quilico was only 10 in her orchestral debut, playing the Haydn D major concerto with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra. She moved to New York when she was 13 to study on scholarship at the Juilliard School and the High School of Performing Arts. Her main teacher was the legendary Rosina Lhévinne. At 14, sharing top prize with Murray Perahia in a concerto competition, she played Mozart’s K.488 in New York. The Times hailed her as a “promethean talent” and she continued to give solo and chamber recitals at many of the city’s other venerated recital halls including Carnegie and Merkin halls, garnering superlatives from the city’s critics, who deemed her “an extraordinary talent with phenomenal ability…dazzling virtuosity”, playing Olivier Messiaen “to perfection”. Allen Hughes of the Times exalted her “beautiful clarity” in Liszt’s dazzling La Campanella, an encore to a program of forward-looking 20th century repertoire, noting that she “is a pianist and musician of refreshingly unconventional taste and ability…a welcome treat.” She appeared in Alice Tully Hall playing Debussy and music by living composers – including her first husband Michel-Georges Brégent (1948-93). In the Times again, Hughes noted that in those years, she “has proved several times over that she is a pianist and musician of more than ordinary attainments”. She took part in the 2018 festival celebrating Frederic Rzewski’s 80th birthday at Brooklyn’s Spectrum, and continues to include American music in her CDs and solo recitals. She has also studied in Paris at the Sorbonne, and in Darmstadt and Berlin with Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti.
She went on to perform 45 concertos with orchestras in the U.S., Greece, and Taipei, and with most of Canada’s leading orchestras. Concerts have taken her across the U.S. and Canada, as well as to Taiwan, the Middle East, France, England, Germany, Greece and Eastern Europe. Photo of Christina Petrowska Quilico with the Order of Canada
In recorded output, few artists can match Petrowska Quilico, particularly in the music of her time. Among her 50 plus CDs are eight piano concertos on five albums, and solo and chamber works by contemporary and international composers, many women composers among them. She also recorded the music of her first husband, the late Michel-Georges Brégent on several CDs; and four CDs with her second husband, the legendary Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico, with whom she toured extensively. Four of her CDs have earned JUNO Awards nominations, three of them for concerto CDs, and one for Glass Houses Revisited by Ann Southam, which is Centrediscs’ all-time best seller and was named one of “30 best Canadian classical recordings ever” by CBC Music.
She has recorded five titles, of music by Ann Southam, comprising seven discs, all on the Centrediscs label. She performed Southam’s music in a concert for Montreal’s Innovations en concert, and live with Toronto Dance Theatre in Christopher Houses’s dance work Rivers in Toronto, the National Arts Centre and on tour in eastern Canada. She gave a lecture/performance on Southam at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK as part of an international symposium on piano.
Her traditional classical CDs include solo albums of Chopin, Liszt, and the tangos of Ernesto Nazareth, Mozart piano concertos; and the complete Mozart violin and piano sonatas, recorded with violinist Jacques Israelievitch. American Record Guide wrote, “This is how this music should be played. There is a feeling of freedom and ebullience in these performances that I attribute mainly to the wonderful Quilico, and she is one of the most satisfying pianists I have heard in this music.”
Marc Djokic is a Canadian violinist and winner of the 2020 ECMA Classical Recording of the Year, the 2017-2018 Prix Goyer. Among other distinctions, he is a Prix Opus laureate and former Canada Council Instrument Bank recipient. Djokic is concertmaster of l’Orchestre classique de Montreal. His recently released collaborative albums, Andre Mathieu musique de chambre and The Spirit and the Dust, garnered glowing reviews upon their release. Originally from the Maritimes; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Djokic first and foremost studied with his father Philippe Djokic, one of Canada’s great soloists and a pupil of the master Ivan Galamian. He continued his studies with David Russell, Donald Weilerstein and Jaime Laredo.
In summer 2019 Marc Djokic embarked on his second European tour with solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and masterclasses. From BC Contact to Jeunesses Musicales and Debut Atlantic, Djokic has toured several times throughout Canada as an accomplished chamber musician. As a soloist, Marc Djokic has performed with such prestigious orchestras as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Quebec Symphony Orchestra. From 2015 to 2017, Mécénat Musica Videos produced more than 45 music videos featuring Djokic and his collaborations, filmed in unique locations across nine provinces.
Marc Djokic has commissioned several compositions with the support of Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Mécénat Musica. In 2018 Djokic co-sponsored and launched the inaugural CAMMAC Composers Competition, and is currently Artist-in-Residence at CAMMAC.
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 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.