Friday, January 26, 2024 8 pm Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor St. West


Winter Warmth

Bask in the beauty of Mozart and the folk energy of Janacek



KEVORK ANDONIAN In Festive Commemoration world premiere 

MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23, K 488 



Tickets: Adult $52; Senior $40; Student $20

Dmitri Levkovich's performance is generously sponsored by Edward Thompson & Meredith MacFarquhar

Program notes 

In Festive Commemoration - Kevork Andonian (1978)

World premiere                                                                                                     

Kevork Andonian’s passion for music creation flourished at an early age; he began writing at the age of six. He completed his Bachelor of Music at Carleton University with Highest Honors in 2001 and was awarded the Carleton University Medal in Music. He holds a Master of Music in Theory and Composition from the University of Ottawa, where he taught as a part-time professor.

A versatile composer, he has composed for the concert hall, theatre, film, video, multimedia and dance productions. Currently he lives in Los Angeles, where he is Resident Composer of the Los Angeles Dream Orchestra and is pursuing postgraduate studies in Music Composition and Film Scoring at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is also a Teaching Fellow.

Andonian’s works have been performed by Sinfonia Toronto, the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio, members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Flutist Marc Grauwels and marimbist Sarah Mouradoglou recorded his “A Longing For Joy” for Naxos - a work originally composed for Sinfonia Toronto and performed on the orchestra’s tour in Spain. He finds fulfillment and joy in collaborating with choreographers, lyricists, filmmakers, producers and other musicians. He is also an accomplished pianist, performing many musical genres. He has performed at international festivals in North America and Europe as well as for heads of state including Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada.

Kevork Andonian wrote the overture titled “In Festive Commemoration” to celebrate Sinfonia Toronto’s 25th anniversary. The piece alludes to various styles and composers to pay homage to the multicultural and multifaceted repertoire presented by Sinfonia Toronto over its 25-year history. The “horn 5th” fanfare motif occurs both explicitly and implicitly, unifying the piece.


Piano Concerto No. 23, K. 488 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

By early 1786, Mozart was earning more from vocal compositions than from writing and performing piano works.  He was working on his opera The Marriage of Figaro and a comic singspiel, The Theatre Director, but still hoped that fickle Viennese patrons and audiences would return to the appetite for his piano concertos they had shown just a few years before, when he was a popular new sensation recently arrived from Salzburg.

Mozart wrote three piano concertos in 1786, each different in atmosphere and displaying different instances of the creative innovation with which he was expanding the genre: the festive Concerto in E-flat, K. 482; this Concerto in A Major, K. 488; and the darker, dramatic Concerto in C minor, K. 491.  Mozart probably performed them during Vienna’s 1786 Lenten season concerts. Unpublished until after his death, all three have become standard repertoire, with K.488 especially beloved for its lyrical, intimate character.

The first movement is in traditional sonata form, with a double exposition in which the main themes are presented by the orchestra first and then by the soloist.  The home key of A major is one Mozart favoured for gentle, gracious works including his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto; the themes here follow this serene path.

The second movement is unique in Mozart’s entire oeuvre. It is the only piece he ever composed in the key of F sharp minor, as well as the last time that he wrote a minor-key slow movement. Its simple A-B-A form contains some of the most touching and expressive music he composed in any form. The interaction between the solo and orchestra parts evokes the intimacy of chamber music more than the greater formality of orchestral concertos.

The last movement is a joyful and boisterous rondo full of Mozart’s impish wit and humor The soloist and orchestra play tag with the movement’s themes through a musical garden of unexpected key changes before returning at last to A major for a playful conclusion.


Quest - Alice Pingyee Ho (1960)

Hong Kong-born, composer Alice Ping Yee Ho is one of Canada’s most sought after composers of contemporary works. Critics have called her music dramatic and graceful, while praising its “organic flow of imagination,” “distinctly individual” style”, “colourful orchestration”, and “emotive qualities”. Influences evident in her proudly eclectic approach include Chinese folk and operatic idioms, Japanese Taiko , jazz,  pop culture, and other contemporary art forms. Her ongoing goal is to explore new musical styles that are provocative to the ears.

“Colors and tonality are two attractive resources to me: they form certain mental images that connect to audiences in a very basic way.” [AH]  

A twice JUNO Award Nominee (2015, 2018), she has an impressive discography released on the Centrediscs, Naxos, Marquis Classics, Blue Griffin, Electra, and Phoenix labels. She has four solo albums (Centrediscs/Naxos) devoted to music written for different genres: “Ming” for percussion, “Glistening Pianos” for two pianos, “The Lesson of Da Di” features her full length award winning opera, and “The Mysterious Boot” features chamber music for flute, cello, and piano. Her fifth album was recently released through Centrediscs/Naxos of her children’s opera The Monkiest King with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company. Her new project including a new opera CHINATOWN commissioned by City Opera Vancouver, on a libretto by Canadian renowned writer Madeleine Thien, opens in September, 2021 at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Ms. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition with high distinction from Indiana University and a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included John Eaton (USA), Brian Ferneyhough(Germany), and John Beckwith (Canada). ​She is a noted classical pianist and an active advocate of contemporary music. She has performed in many new music festivals, including a solo piano recital recorded by CBC Radio 2 in which she premiered Tan Dun’s solo piano work “Traces II”. She now makes her home in Toronto. 

The title 'Quest' signifies exploration and motivation. The work was written to stimulate string players to try different bowing techniques, to play expressively and to tackle various rhythmic skills, also exposing them to special string effects and sonorities.  In this work, the audience will hear two parts: an expressive slow introduction and a dance-like energetic movement. The idea of the work is largely based on the theme of positive energy and bravery against adversities, and at the same time expresses a young person’s expeditions and dreams.

 Idyll - Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) 


Czech composer Leoš Janáček drew inspiration from Slavic and Eastern European musical traditions. His mature works blend his earlier forays into national folk music into a modern, creative synthesis.

The son of a schoolteacher, Janáček received his early musical training in choral singing at the Brno Monastery of St. Thomas. After graduating from organ school in 1875 as the top student in his class and a brief stint as a music teacher and choir director, he returned to formal studies of piano, organ, and composition at the Leipzig and Vienna Conservatories.

He returned to Brno as an organ teacher and Janácek served as the organ school's director from 1881 to 1919. However, midway through the 1880s he began to spend more time on composing and on efforts to preserve native music. Beginning in the early 1890’s, he orchestrated and arranged various folk songs and dances from Moravia and Silesia.

Briefly interrupting their life in Brno, Janácek and his wife made two brief trips to Russia in 1902. Their daughter Olga accompanied them to St. Petersburg and remained there to study Russian. But Olga fell ill; barely three months later, Janacek brought her back to Brno where she died shortly after. Janácek poured his grief into the opera Jenufa, a work which began a period of great successes and great distress.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Janácek faced both personal and professional challenges. His early marriage, which had been peaceful and secure, grew stressed after Olga’s death. And he nearly gave up his ambition to compose music after years of working in obscurity. But in 1916 a new version of Jenufa won warm acclaim in Prague and earned Janácek critical praise on a national scale. The same year, he began a warm and long-lasting relationship with Max Brod, a theatre critic, dramatist, translator and well-known friend of Franz Kafka.

Enjoying his new popularity, Janácek attracted the notice of soprano Gabriela Horvátová, who helped him navigate Prague’s high society. On learning of his relationship with Gabriela, his wife attempted suicide. At her request, they eventually agreed to an "informal" divorce, to avoid the public scandal of a formal divorce. From then on they lived in the same house but led separate lives.

Shortly after, in 1917, Janácek met Kamila Stösslová, a young married woman 38 years his junior; she would serve as an inspiration for many of his works for the rest of his life. Over 730 letters were exchanged in their intense and emotional correspondence, most by him. But when he went on an outing with Kamila and her son in 1928 he caught a chill that turned into pneumonia. He died in August 1928, at the age of 74. A massive public funeral featured music from the final scene of his opera Cunning Little Vixen.

Janácek’s Idyll for String Orchestra was written in 1878 and then reworked in 1921. The world premiere was performed in Brno under Janácek's direction, with Antonín Dvořák present in the audience. Janacek wrote his Idyll to celebrate Olga’s birth, and its seven movements capture the love and happiness he felt then. Dvořák’s  melodic style and use of folk elements are unquestionably the most common references and influences on Idyll. 


Ukrainian-Canadian pianist and composer Dmitri Levkovich honed his skills on the piano under the guidance of Sergei Babayan for 11 years and in composition at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has been praised for "artistic sophistication far above the ordinary" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and "understanding of the music far beyond most young pianists” (American Record Guide).

Between 2005 and 2013 Dmitri earned top awards at more than a dozen international competitions, including the Cleveland, Jose Iturbi, Gina Bachauer, China Piano Competitions and the Vendôme Prize in Lisbon. Dmitri has earned ‘audience favorite’ awards and special recognition for his performances of Chopin’s works. After his 2013 International German Piano Award he appeared in both the Grand Hall and Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie, the Great Hall of Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, and in Shanghai, Qatar and Tbilisi.

Dmitri has performed over 30 different concertos with orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, China National Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Frankfurt HR Radio, Mariinsky, Slovak Philharmonic and Utah Symphony Orchestra. He has performed in the Great Hall at Alte Oper Frankfurt, Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Berlin Philharmonie, Gulbenkian Foundation, Moscow Conservatory, Warsaw Philharmonie, Mariinsky Theater’s Concert Hall and Carnegie Hall and the Théâtre des Champs Elysées. He has participated in festivals including Deer Valley, New Contemporary Piano Faces at Mariinsky, Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, Salzburg Whitsun, Ravinia and Ravello. His recording of Rachmaninoff’s 24 Preludes met with critical acclaim and earned Dmitri a nomination for the 2016 International Classical Music Award.

Recent performance highlights include the Grieg Concerto with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Liszt’s First Piano Concerto at the Great Hall of Berlin Philharmonie, a debut at the Ravinia Festival and a performance at the 2nd International Mariinsky Far East Festival. Dmitri was featured in ARTE TV's "Stars of tomorrow" and "Living the Classical Life" interview series. His recording of Rachmaninoff’s 24 Preludes was met with critical acclaim, earning a nomination for the 2016 International Classical Music Award.

In the fall of 2021 Dmitri toured Switzerland with Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, performing in the Basel and Bern Philharmonic Halls.  The same season, his performances of Chopin’s Concerto No.1 with Sinfonia Toronto and Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto with the Baden-Baden Symphony Orchestra (Frankfurt’s Alte Oper) were streamed online.

Dmitri has also been receiving recognition as a composer. Next April the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra will perform his ‘Fantasie’ for piano and orchestra, and in July his Piano Trio will be performed at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

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 

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