Prayer - Nina Grigoryan
Nina Grigoryan is an Armenian composer and teacher of composition, music theory, solfège, piano and music history. She began composing music when she was only four, and won composition prizes while still a child, including First Prize in the Aram Khachaturian Competition with her musical play Milky Way. She studied composition at Komitas Conservatory with Lazar Saryan and Eduard Mirzoyan. While still a student there she won Second Prize in the Komitas Competition for her symphonic work Perception and then First Prize for a musical novel based on verses by the Armenian writer Kutchak.
After completing her doctorate Grigoryan joined the conservatory faculty for several years before going to Moscow in 2002-2003 for a composition internship under the guidance of Karen Khachaturian at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Since 2006 she has lived in Portugal, where she composes, teaches and organizes concerts and workshops dedicated to Armenian music. She has participated in organizing the Gulbenkian Foundation‘s Summer Garden Festival, and led Summer Garden workshops. In 2019 she released her first CD, dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Komitas and also including music by Arno Babajanian, all performed by the Aeternus Trio.
Viola Concerto - Marjan Mozetich (1948 - )
Marjan Mozetich is one of the most broadcast classical composers in Canada. He has garnered numerous awards, including the 2010 Juno Award for Best Classical Composition of the Year, and the SOCAN Matejcek Concert Music Prize awarded to the most performed and broadcast composer in Canada twice, in 2002 and 2006. He has written over 70 works for a myriad of instrumental and vocal combinations, for symphonic orchestras, chamber ensembles, choirs and soloists as well as for theatre, film and dance. His works have been premiered and performed by some of the world’s most esteemed orchestras and musicians.
Mozetich’s Concerto for Viola, Vibraphone and String Orchestra was commissioned through an Ontario Arts Council grant and generous assistance from a private donor, Mr. Hans-Christian Behm and premiered by Sinfonia Toronto with violist Rivka Golani and vibraphonist Dean Kurtis-Pomeroy in March 2013.
The concerto is in three movements: a dramatic first movement loosely based on an Indonesian scale; a middle movement Romance especially funded by Mr. Behm and dedicated his his violist friend Thérėse, an elegiac movement based on his initials H(B-flat)-B-C; and a rhythmic, fast-paced finale, a race between the viola and the orchestra.
Flute Concerto in E Minor - Giuseppe Saverio Raffaele Mercadante (1795-1870)
Mercadante studied flute, violin and composition at the conservatory in Naples. At the age of 22, he became conductor of the orchestra there, tasked with composing symphonies and concertos. With Rossini’s encouragement, he began to compose operas and soon won notable success. Many of his operas are forgotten today, but several have received occasional revivals in the 20th century.
After working for periods in Vienna, Madrid, Lisbon and Paris, he re-established himself in Italy in 1831. His operatic style evolved and matured, becoming more dramatic, foretelling the works of Verdi. In the period after 1831 he composed some of his most important works, creating more ensemble scenes, evolving away from the historic style in which the diva, the lead female singer, sang alone on stage.
Mercadante also composed a great many instrumental works - indeed more than most of his contemporaries focused on operas - thanks to his lifelong preoccupation with orchestration. The French flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal notably revived and recorded several Mercadante concertos for flute and string orchestra, including this grand and romantic E minor concerto.
Today this concerto is a celebrated composition known for its intricate melodies and compelling harmonies. The first movement Allegro Maestoso begins with a beautiful and mellow melody for the flute, accompanied softly by the orchestra. As the movement progresses, the flute becomes more assertive, with intricate runs, arpeggios, and trills that make for a thrilling performance.
The second movement Adagio is known for a haunting melody producing peace and tranquility in listeners. It ends with a beautiful solo cadenza, incorporating dazzling runs and trills while remaining true to the romantic mood of the piece. The final movement, Rondo Russo, is joyous and energetic, characterized by its lively pace and playful melody.
String Quartet No.14 in G Major, K. 387 “Spring” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Orchestra version by Nurhan Arman
Mozart's String Quartet No.14 in G major K.387, commonly known as the "Spring" quartet, is one of his best-known chamber works. Composed in 1782, it is the first of Mozart's six "Haydn" quartets, written after a period of study under Joseph Haydn and in tribute to the older composer.
By the time he wrote this quartet, Mozart was already starting to enjoy success. Newly set up in Vienna, he often performed as a pianist, soon recognized as “the finest keyboard player in Vienna," according to one commentator. He also prospered as a composer; in 1782 his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio achieved great success. It was soon being performed throughout German-speaking Europe, confirming Mozart's reputation as a composer.
Mozart was also starting to enjoy romance and marriage. After failing to win the hand of Aloysia Weber, who married an actor and artist instead, Mozart shifted his interest to Aloysia’s sister, Constanze. The courtship did not go smoothly. He and Constanze briefly separated in April 1782, but then did marry. With large returns from his concerts and compositions, Mozart and his wife adopted a luxurious lifestyle, moving to an expensive apartment and purchasing a fine fortepiano and a billiard table. They sent their son to an expensive boarding school and kept servants. Mozart saved little for the future, but this was a joyful period, which shows in this work.
The Spring Quartet earned its nickname because of its cheerful, lighthearted character, reminiscent of the freshness and vitality of spring. The opening movement is lively and bright, full of sudden shifts in tempo and texture. It begins with a sprightly theme for the cello and viola, soon picked up by the violins. The second theme, in the relative key of E minor, offers a moment of contrast before returning to the lively G major of the opening.
The second movement is a minuet, usually the third movement in a standard quartet. The minuet, a typical dance form of the time, has a lilting rhythm and playful character, with the violins and viola exchanging melodies throughout. The trio in the middle has a darker, unsettled mood, offering a change from the minuet with a slower, more introspective theme.
In the third movement, a lyrical, contemplative melody passes between all the instruments, with the viola and cello featured in the middle section. The final movement ends the quartet energetically, with joyful themes weaving among the instruments in a lively and intricate dance. Sudden shifts in tempo and mood remind us of the first movement, and the piece scurries to a conclusion with a rousing accelerando.
Violist Sharon Wei has established herself as one of the most respected performers on her instrument. She has played concertos with orchestras such as Symphony of the Redwoods, Kingston Symphony, Sinfonia Toronto, Orchestra of Southern Utah, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, and in 2022 she premiered Richard Mascall’s Ziigwan viola concerto with Indigenous Elder John Rice as narrator with the London Symphonia.
As a chamber musician, she regularly takes part in international festivals such as the Verbier Festival, Marlboro Music, Prussia Cove in the UK, Banff, Seattle, Giverny and Ravinia. She has performed with renowned musicians including James Ehnes, Benjamin Appl, Marion Newman, Gary Hoffman, Claude Frank, Joseph Silverstein, James Campbell and the Amernet and St. Lawrence String Quartets. Performances in 2022-2023 included a Musicians from Marlboro tour in Carnegie Hall, Perelman Theater in Philadelphia and the Freer Gallery in Washington DC, and the premiere of a new string trio by Reena Esmail in Thailand at the International Viola Festival in June 2023.
Sharon is the violist of the award-winning New Orford String Quartet, comprised of concertmasters and principals from the Toronto and Montreal Symphonies and dedicated to promoting Canadian works. Last season the quartet returned to Mount Royal University and Western University as artists-in-residence as well as Whitehorse Concerts, Toronto Summer Music and Northwestern University. The quartet’s appearances this season include concerts in Vancouver, Victoria, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
Sharon has performed recital tours with pianist Angela Park under the auspices of Debut Atlantic and Prairie Debut. Together they co-founded Ensemble Made in Canada in 2006 when they were awarded a CBC Galaxie Prize.
Sharon has been guest principal violist of the Cincinnati Symphony, Canadian Opera Company and Ensemble Matheus in Paris. Since 2000 she has been principal violist with the Verbier Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland, touring with soloists such as Yuja Wang, Daniel Trifinov, Joshua Bell, Maxim Vengerov, Marta Argerich and conductors Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Dmitri Sitkovetsky and Andras Schiff.
Sharon has been on faculty at Yale and Stanford and is currently Associate Professor of Viola and acting Assistant Dean of Research at Western University. She has given masterclasses at the American Viola Society Festival, Beijing Conservatory and universities across Canada and is a regular faculty violist at Curtis Summerfest, Scotia Festival, Tuckamore Festival, Toronto Summer Music and Orford Academy.
Sharon was recognized with a 2021 Faculty Scholar Award at Western University, won the viola prize at Yale University and has been the recipient of grants through the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, FACTOR and Western University. She has recorded for Centrediscs, CBC, Onyx Classics, Warner Classics and is frequently heard on CBC Radio and Air Canada’s Enroute Entertainment.
Flutist Mario Carbotta has been an acclaimed soloist with Sinfonia Toronto in several previous seasons, and has performed with too other many orchestras to count. A very short list would include the Mannheim Chamber Orchestra, Mainz Chamber Orchestra, Prague Virtuosi, Strings of La Scala, I Solisti Aquilani, Vienna Tonkünstler-Orchester, Israeli Symphonette, Orquestra do Algarve, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Orquestra Classica de Madeira, San Remo Philharmonic, Istanbul Symphony, and Radio-Televison Orchestra of the People’s Republic of China.
Appreciated by the public and acclaimed by critics in reviews like “Flutist Carbotta is simply superb” (Audiophile Audition Classical) and “Les interprètes sont d’une musicalité et d’un goût parfaits” (Le Monde de la Musique), Carbotta has played all over Italy, throughout Europe and in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Mexico, Canada and the US. He has performed in major concert halls including the Grosser Musikvereinssaal in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, Swiss Radio Hall in Lugano, Sala “G.Verdi” in Milan, Auditoro Manuel de Falla in Granada, Cairo Opera House and at the international festivals of Castel de Perelada, Ljubljana, Santander, Teheran and Zagreb.
He is an advocate for both new music and historical composers unjustly neglected. He has performed the premieres of works by a number of Italian contemporary composers, among them Cattaneo, Cognazzo, Crisigiovanni, Ermirio, Fellegara, Gelmetti, Possio, Piacentini, Solbiati, Taglietti, Talmell and a number of which have been dedicated to him. He has carried out extensive research into forgotten but important composers, editing sonatas by G.A. Fioroni, P. Nardini, P. Lichtenthal and A. Rolla for the publishers Bèrben, Carisch and Rugginenti.
Mario is one of the world’s most-recorded flutists, with releases on Dynamic, Tactus, Nuova Era and Rugginenti. His discography includes the first contemporary recordings of works by Giuseppe Sammartini and Mario Pilati; the entire catalogue of works for flute by Nino Rota; lieder by Caspar Fürstenau, recorded with the choir of the Swiss Radio; duets for flute and violin and the six quartets and the concerto for flute and orchestra by Alessandro Rolla; the Triple Concerto “Degli oleandri” by Raffaele Gervasio, with the Orchestra Sinfonica Lucana; “Concert Memories” by Gianni Possio; and all the concerts for flute and orchestra by Saverio Mercadante, with the Solisti Aquilani.
A dedicated and expert teacher, Mario Carbotta has given courses and master classes in the US, Canada, at the International Academy of Music in Milan, and at the International Summer Courses in Nowy Sacz, Poland. He holds a permanent Professorship at the Boccherini Conservatory in Lucca.
Sinfonia Toronto now celebrating its 25th 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