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Nancy Walker and Kirk MacDonald in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 2013.
Escape the chilly winter weather and cozy up to some warm tunes in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this December. The days may be short and the nights may be cold, but the mix of jazz, classical and new music in the Free Concert Series this month will help put you in a festive winter mood!
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 12 p.m. - The Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble - Power Chords
Under the direction of Brian Current, the talented young musicians of The Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble present an inventive program for chamber orchestra and small ensembles. This powerful performance features the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Canadian composer and trombonist Scott Good, along with works by John Rea and Martin Bresnick.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 5:30 p.m. - Elizabeth Shepherd - Rewind
Since bursting onto the international scene in 2006, vocalist/pianist Elizabeth Shepherd has established herself as one of the most alluring and imaginative artists on the scene today. This globetrotting soul-jazz innovator and three-time Juno nominee breathes new life – and soul – into songs both familiar and forgotten in a performance of highlights from her latest album, Rewind. Check out her rendition of "Feeling Good" in the recording below.
Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Ensemble Made in Canada - French Impressions
Rapidly gaining recognition as Canada’s premier piano quartet, the dynamic all-female Ensemble Made in Canada showcases the elegance, energy and intensity of their remarkable ensemble playing in two masterpieces of the French chamber music repertoire: Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G Minor (his final work) and Faure's Piano Quartet in C Minor.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Stefan Chaplikov - Hammerklavier
Still in his 20s, Bulgarian rising star Stefan Chaplikov fearlessly scales Beethoven’s monumental Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, the “Hammerklavier.” While this demanding work daunts pianists twice his age, Stefan embraces its challenges and rewards with a fierce passion and authority belying his years. Listen to Sokolov's recording of this Mount Everest of piano sonatas below.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 5:30 p.m. - Eliana Cuevas Quintet - Espejo
Canada’s award-winning Latin jazz queen, flanked by some of the country’s top jazz musicians (George Koller, Jeremy Ledbetter, Mark Kelso and Daniel Stone), performs highlights from her highly anticipated and much lauded new recording, Espejo. With the distinctive purity, versatility and dexterity of Eliana's vocals now deeper and more nuanced than ever, this sophisticated and deeply personal oeuvre showcases her vastly expanded range as a composer and performer, taking the audience on an intense and passionate journey of the soul. Preview a song from the album below.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Cadence- Cool Yule
Famous for their infectious energy and uncanny verve, Canada’s premier a cappella vocal ensemble will put you in the holiday spirit with this festive program. Whether performing seasonal songs, classics by Joni Mitchell or Louis Prima, bebop standards or cheeky arrangement of 1980s hits, their hypnotic blend of complex harmonies, intricate arrangements, vocal dexterity and on-stage antics are simply irresistible! Hear a preview from their album, Cool Yule, below.
Let us know which December concert you're most looking forward to in the comments below!
The Free Concert Series will break after the concert on December 17 and return on Tuesday, January 7 with pianist Mehdi Ghazi and The Colours of Passion. Have a great holiday and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Photo: (top) Nancy Walker and Kirk MacDonald in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 2013. Photo by Karen Reeves; (middle) Composer/trombonist Scott Good; (bottom) Ensemble Made in Canada. Photo by Bo Huang.
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By Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager
In recent years, the Canadian Opera Company has lured Canada’s internationally acclaimed soprano Adrianne Pieczonka from the world’s stages of New York, London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Vienna, Bayreuth and Salzburg to the Four Seasons Centre for one riveting performance after another. This winter, COC audiences are the first to witness Pieczonka in a role she calls “more dramatic than any other Verdi role I have sung to date” – Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera.
“I have sung more lyric Verdi parts in the past, such as Alice Ford, Desdemona, Elisabetta and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra. For a time, I considered singing Aida and Elvira, but I realized that these roles didn’t fit me quite right, vocally. Amelia in Ballo fits better as it lies in a slight lower tessitura where my voice feels more comfortable,” she says.
Adrianne Pieczonka as Elisabeth in Verdi's Don Carlos.
It’s also a role that requires a singer who can mine vast reserves of musical power and sensitivity. “Personally, I find that singing Verdi is more technically demanding than singing Wagner or Strauss. In Verdi, the voice is the main focus. In Wagner and Strauss, the voice can sometimes hide a bit in the thick orchestrations,” shares Pieczonka. “[In Verdi], the art of bel canto is required, the ability to spin long legato lines and imbue phrases with many vocal colours. Verdi operas challenge singers technically, but they are so highly rewarding and thrilling to perform.”
“Amelia appeals to me because she is a mature woman – she is married and she is a mother, both of which I can relate to,” shares Pieczonka. “Amelia sings a heartbreaking aria begging her husband that, before she is killed, she be allowed to say goodbye to her young son. It’s this kind of emotion which really affects me deeply.”
Learn more about Adrianne's career from her COC debut in 1988 to more recent moments in this world-renowned soprano’s career abroad and here at home in our current winter issue of Prelude magazine. Sign up here to receive a digital copy.
You can follow Adrianne on Twitter and learn more about her on her website.
Photos: (top) Carlo Ventre as Cavaradossi and Adrianne Pieczonka as Tosca in the Canadian Opera Company production of Tosca, 2012. Photo by Michael Cooper; (middle) Adrianne Pieczonka. Photo by Johannes Ifkovits; (bottom) Adrianne Pieczonka as Elisabeth de Valois and the COC Chorus in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Don Carlos, 2007. Photo by Michael Cooper.
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001