Friday, December 8, 2023 8 pm Jane Mallett Theatre,  27 Front St. East


Rejoice in Romance

Four centuries of melody flow around two Romantic-era masterpieces




SCHUMANN Cello Concerto 

CORELLI Christmas Concerto 

DVORAK Miniatures - Dances from Op. 46, 54 & 72

Adult $52; Senior $40; Student $20

Program notes 

Nostalgia - Jocelyn Morlock (1969 -2023)

Jocelyn Morlock worked with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as their first female

Composer-in-Residence from 2014 to 2019. In 2011 her vocal work Exaudi was nominated for a

Juno and in 2018 she won for My Name Is Amanda Todd. Her music is inspired by birds,

insomnia, nature, fear, other people’s music and art, nocturnal thoughts, lucid dreaming, death,

and the liminal times and experiences before and after death. Her compositions include film

scores, choral pieces and solo, ensemble and orchestral scores.

Nostalgia is inspired by a Bach sonata and two passages by Milan Kundera: “In the sunset of

dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia.” (The Unbearable Lightness of

Being), and “You can suffer nostalgia in the presence of the beloved if you glimpse a future

where the beloved is no more.” (Ignorance)

Ms. Morlock explained, “My starting point for this piece was the Adagio of Bach’s Sonata for

Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, BWV 1027, a piece which for me is replete with nostalgia

and past associations. The opening melody has a sweet sadness that I find irresistible. While I

used some fragments of the Bach for my own musical purposes throughout Nostalgia, the

referencing is only audible in the coda. Rather than building a piece on Bach’s music, my intent

was to refer to the many emotions I feel when listening to the Adagio, to create a rumination

upon this seductive but surreal world of memory. Aside from the undoubted delights of

glimpsing the past through a sentimental haze, nostalgia also has some darker facets; engaging in

an obsessive love for the past makes it easy to lose sight of the present, and nothing appears quite

as wonderful as that which is forever lost.”

Cello Concerto in A Minor op. 129 - Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Robert Schumann belonged to the Romantic era; so, not surprisingly, the piece we are hearing

tonight is lyrical, inward, and passionate. Schumann was born in Zwickau, Germany. He showed

strong talent for music at a young age but did not immediately go into music. To satisfy his

father, he studied law at the University of Leipzig. It was not long before he returned to music,

though, and started taking lessons from renowned piano teacher Friedrich Wieck. Under Wieck's

instruction, Schumann soon became a famous performer, but his playing career was ended by a

hand injury. Fortunately, he also loved composing.

Schumann only wrote for the piano until 1840, then began to write for voice and for orchestra.

The music of his contemporaries - Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Liszt - as well as German poetry

and literature all influenced his music.  

In 1840 Schumann married his piano teacher’s daughter Clara Wieck, only after a long and 

contentious court battle with Friedrich, who opposed the union. Clara proved to be 

the perfect mate, as she was herself an accomplished pianist and musical prodigy. 

Ever since a period of severe melancholy in 1833, Schumann battled mental illness. 

Clara’s love and help eased him through many such episodes.

Mirroring the ups and downs of his mental state, Schumann's compositional output also went

through manic and depressive phases. These mood swings are today thought to have been caused

by a bipolar condition and perhaps by mercury poisoning. Schumann confined himself to a

mental institution after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in 1854. Two years later, at the age of 46,

he passed away from pneumonia.

Schumann composed his Cello Concerto in A Minor in Düsseldorf in 1850 It is his only concerto

for cello. The solo part is written almost entirely in the instrument’s middle and upper range, to

ensure projection through the orchestral textures.

The Concerto consists of three movements which flow together without breaks. Like Schumann's

other works, the concerto uses thematic material introduced in the first movement in later

movements. For this reason, and because the movements move ahead without breaks, the

concerto is extremely unified in both material and in character. However, it is not repetitious: the

themes are used in different contexts and evoke different moods, ranging from deeply meditative

to agitated and brilliant.

A medium-slow romantic melody from the cello opens the first movement, with lyricism

arousing feelings of nostalgia and desire. In the slow second movement, the cello plays another

beautiful, melancholy melody, complemented by a lavish orchestral background. This movement

is organised as a theme and variations, with each variation focusing on a distinctive melodic

element. In the third movement, the cello introduces a vibrant motif which is then picked up by

the orchestra. Written in rondo form, the movement is divided into sections that explore

contrasting moods and feelings.

Schumann once famously declared "I cannot write a concerto for the virtuosos. I must try for

something else." His writing here is personal and lyrical rather than full of étude-like passages

meant to display the soloist’s technical skill. Perhaps for this reason, this concerto was not

received warmly in Schumann’s time, but now it is beloved for its great melodic beauty and the

interpretive artistry it reveals in the cellists who perform it.

Christmas Concerto - Arcangelo Corelli (1653- 1713)

Born in the small Italian town of Fusignano, Corelli became one of the most influential and

celebrated composers of the Baroque era, known as the “father of the concerto grosso” and in his

own time as "the prince of musicians.” He showed remarkable talent from an early age. His

uncle, a musician, recognized his potential and took him on as a student. By the age of 20,

Corelli had proved himself as a virtuoso violinist, and he soon became a sought-after teacher.

Corelli’s first major compositions, 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo, were

published in 1681 and quickly marked him as a leading composer of the day. Listeners praised

his lyricism and elegance.

In 1687, Corelli moved to Rome. Rome did not have any permanent orchestra providing stable

employment for instrumentalists, but Corelli rapidly made a name for himself, playing in various

ensembles sponsored by wealthy patrons. It was here that he began to experiment with the

concerto grosso, a form of music in which a small group of soloists are accompanied by a larger

ensemble. Corelli’s concerti grossi are marked by intricate interplay between the soloists and the

orchestra and showcase his skill at crafting complex polyphonic textures. Though his entire

production is limited to just six published collections, he achieved great fame and success

throughout Europe.

As a virtuoso violinist he was considered one of the greatest of his generation. Through his

development of modern playing techniques and his many disciples, he helped to place the violin

among the most prestigious solo instruments. Besides his work as a composer and performer,

Corelli was also a respected conductor. Because of his meticulous attention to detail and ability

to draw the best out of his musicians, he was a sought-after conductor for both secular and sacred

music. He was also a renowned teacher. His pupils included Francesco Geminiani, Pietro

Locatelli and Antonio Vivaldi, who all went on to become important figures in their own right.

Corelli’s works influenced an entire generation of composers, including Vivaldi, Handel, Johann

Sebastian Bach, and Francois Couperin.

Corelli's Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 8, also known as the Christmas Concerto, is a masterpiece

that has stood the test of time. Written for the festive season, it is composed of six movements.

First performed in 1690 for a new patron, it bears the inscription “Made for the night of

Christmas.” Since publication in 1714 it has remained one of Corelli's most famous and

celebrated works.

The concerto’s six short movements alternate between fast and slow. At many points during the

faster movements of this piece listeners may feel certain they are listening to Vivaldi, and in the

slower movements Handel – but of course the influence actually went the other direction, and

shows Corelli’s importance in developing Baroque style.

Miniatures (Dances from Op. 46, 54 & 72) - Antonin Dvorak (1840-1914)

Dvorak was born in a village near Prague, the eldest of eight children. He showed early signs of

musical talent, began learning violin when he was six, and later became skillful in both piano and

organ. Despite these early signs, however, Dvorak did not begin to study music seriously until

his late teens. Dvorak studied at the Prague Organ School and became a violist with the orchestra

of the Provincial Theatre and then the National Theatre. In the early 1870’s he started to gain a

reputation as a composer.

Like many other European composers in the mid-to-late 19 th century, Dvorak developed a strong

interest in the folk music of his homeland. He believed that music should be accessible to

everyone, and wanted his music to reflect his country's national identity. In the 1870’s, Dvorak

became the director of the Prague Conservatory, where he taught composition. During his

lengthy tenure as director, he insisted that all students study the works of Czech composers.

In the early years of his career, Dvorak remained relatively unknown outside his homeland.

Hoping to further his career, in 1874, he submitted compositions in a competition for the

Austrian State Prize for Composition. Johannes Brahms was chair of the jury and was highly

impressed. Dvořák won the prize in in 1874 and again in 1876 and 1877. Brahms recommended

Dvořák to his own publisher, who soon afterward commissioned what became the Slavonic

Dances, Op. 46. When the sheet music (of a piano 4-hands version) had excellent sales, Dvořák's

international reputation was launched.

Capping his rise to international fame, in 1892, Dvořák was invited to become the director of the

National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He was offered an annual salary equivalent

to more than $450,000 in present-day dollars, twenty-five times what he was paid at the Prague

Conservatory. Coming to America proved to be a pivotal moment in his career. He was

fascinated by the country's cultural diversity and musical traditions, and these influences can be

seen in his music from that time. He felt that African-American and Native American music

should be used as a foundation for the growth of America’s own national style of music.

Unfortunately, a severe economic depression drained the assets of the Conservatory’s patrons

and in 1894 Dvořák's salary was cut in half and paid only irregularly. In the winter of 1894–95,

feeling homesick and enjoying increased recognition in Europe, Dvorak decided to return to

Bohemia. New York erected a statue to honour him in Stuyvesant Square, near where he had

lived. Back in Europe, Dvořák continued teaching and composing until 1904, when an attack

of influenza carried him off on May Day at the age of 62, leaving many unfinished works.

As a violist himself, Dvořák had a natural affinity to writing for strings. Over a period of thirty

years, he composed over forty chamber music works, including string quartets. 

 Tonight's performance features his most beloved selections from his Valses and Slavonic Dances. Written in traditional romantic style, they are characterized by beautiful melodies, rich harmonies, and expressive counterpoint.


Cellist Stéphane Tétreault is the laureate of the 2022 Prix Opus for “Performer of the Year” awarded by the Conseil québécois de la musique and accompanied by a Canada Council grant. In 2019 he received the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize and was nominated for the Ontario Arts Council’s Oscar Morawetz Award for Excellence in Music Performance. In 2018 he received the Maureen Forrester Next Generation Award. In 2015 he was selected as laureate of the Classe d’Excellence de violoncelle Gautier Capuçon from the Fondation Louis Vuitton and received the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Career Development Award. In 2013 he was the very first recipient of the $50,000 Fernand-Lindsay Career Award as well as a Choquette-Symcox Award laureate. 

First Prize winner at the 2007 Standard Life-Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition, he was named Radio-Canada “Révélation” in classical music, chosen as Personality of the Week by La Presse and named the Prix Opus New Artist of the Year. Chosen as the first ever Soloist-in-Residence of the Orchestre Métropolitain, he performed with Yannick Nézet-Séguin during the 2014-2015 season. In 2016 he made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Nézet-Séguin and performed at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland. During the 2017-2018 season he took part in the Orchestre Métropolitain’s first European tour with Maestro Nézet-Séguin and made his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Stéphane has performed with violinist and conductor Maxim Vengerov and pianists Alexandre Tharaud, Jan Lisiecki, Louis Lortie, Roger Vignoles, Marc-André Hamelin, Charles Richard-Hamelin and John Lenehan and has worked with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Paul McCreesh, John Storgårds, Rune Bergmann, Kensho Watanabe and Tung-Chieh Chuang amongst many others. He has participated in a number of masterclasses, notably with cellists Gautier Capuçon and Frans Helmerson. 

Stéphane’s debut CD recorded with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra and conductor Fabien Gabel was chosen as “Editor’s Choice” in the March 2013 issue of Gramophone Magazine. His second album with pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone, featuring works from Haydn, Schubert, and Brahms, was chosen as Gramophone Magazine’s “Critic’s Choice 2016” and recognized as one of the best albums of the year. In 2017 he partnered with harpist Valérie Milot and violinist Antoine Bareil for a third album dedicated to trios for violin, cello and harp. All three of his albums have received nominations at the ADISQ Gala. 

Stéphane was a student of the late cellist and conductor Yuli Turovsky for more than 10 years. He holds a master’s degree in Music Performance from the University of Montreal. 

Stéphane plays the 1707 “Countess of Stainlein, Ex-Paganini” Stradivarius cello, on generous loan from Mrs. Sophie Desmarais.                                                                

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 

To read the program booklet for this concert please click here or scan the QR code shown below