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Happy New Year from your ESO

Monday, 04 January 2016 23:54
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Happy New Year!

The ESO is back on Saturday with our first concert of 2016 – a performance of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with conductor, Jacques Lacombe, and violinist, Stephen Waarts. As everyone heads back to work this week, we know how easy it can be to forget about those ambitious New Years’ resolutions. For anyone else who is starting to feel their lofty goals slipping away, the ESO Archive is here to help! If you are one of the many people who resolved to hit the gym this year, we have uncovered some documentary evidence of ESO musicians making fitness a part of their day-to-day lives – often at unusual times and in unexpected places. We hope that this small photographic collection will inspire you to keep your resolution to work health and fitness into the busy days of 2016.

 

Violinist, Edgar Williams, finds time for some chin-ups at a school gym while on a tour of Northern Alberta and British Columbia with the ESO in 1976.

 

 

Members of the ESO in the 1980s pose as a baseball team for some promotional photos. Too bad they never made it to the field!

 

Conductor, Uri Mayer, dressed as Beethoven, kicks off the ESO’s Beat Beethoven Run in July 1999. Participants raced to complete this 8 km run before the final notes of Beethoven’sNinth Symphony sounded.

 

 

Kathy Macintosh (Assistant Principal Trombone) and Scott Whetham (Principal Tuba) arrive at the Winspear Centre after participating in the ESO’s annual Bike to the Symphony event this past June.

 

The ESO continues to find new ways to combine themes of music and athletics. On May 7th, 2016, the ESO will entertain with music inspired by sports, from “Casey at the Bat” to Hockey Night in Canada, at Fun & Games – the final concert of our Symphony for Kids series for the season.  And keep your eyes peeled for more information about this year’s Bike to the Symphony event in the New Year!

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Q & A with Baritone, John Brancy. Performing with your ESO this Christmas!

Wednesday, 02 December 2015 16:22
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This Christmas season, the Edmonton Symphony is teaming up with some very talented Canadian vocalists. John Brancy, a Baritone, will be performing with the ESO at three performances this season: Christmas Classics (Dec 17), and We Wish You A Merry Christmas! (Dec 19-20). Earlier this week, we touched base with John and got to know him a bit better. 


1.  Where did you grow up and where do you currently reside?

 I was born just outside of Philadelphia and grew up in a small antiques town in New Jersey called Mullica Hill. I just moved to Leipzig (Germany). 

2.  What do you like to do when you’re not performing? What are your hobbies?

 Cooking is number one for me outside of singing. I will always consider myself a foodie and someone who wants to learn everything there is to know about food and cooking  I actually run a food business with two partners, Mean N Nuts. I also love being outdoors and doing yoga. 

 3.  Have you been to Edmonton before? If yes, have you performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in the past?

Yes! This year actually - this past January I performed the fun role of Papageno in Edmonton Opera's production of The Magic Flute! This will be my first time performing with the Orchestra - I'm very excited.

 4.  What is your favourite Christmas song?

It has to be a tie between O Holy Night and the Chipmunks Christmas song "Christmas don't be late". I know they are basically polar opposites, but it's their stories and how I connect to them that matters to me. The chipmunks song was my very first solo - I sang Alvin's line "Me, I wanna hoolahoop" in my local Mall at age 10. O Holy Night is just an extremely rapturous song that I have sung many times and I love singing it in French and English. 

5.  What’s your favourite holiday treat?

Single origin, fair-trade, gluten-free, organic, NON-GMO, Vegan, Hot Chocolate.

 6.  What was Christmas like in your family growing up? How do you celebrate the holidays now?

 Christmas was very gift heavy growing up - I think kids in the 90's in the states were spoiled with lots of new toys and games etc etc - now, I think families, especially mine, are slowly coming back to find the true meaning of Christmas and how important it is to share that time together when you have it. 

 7.  What’s the #1 item on your Christmas wish list this year? 

With everything happening in the world at the moment, my wish would be for peace.  Of course, it is more than a Christmas wish, it's a life wish.  

 8.  What are you most looking forward to about the Christmas concerts with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra? Is there a particular piece of music that you are excited to perform?

 Musically speaking, I am very excited to sing Vaughan William's theme on Christmas Carols - this is such a lush and harmonious piece and I absolutely love singing this great composer's vocal music. I am also excited to sing some fun duets with my wife Wallis! 

 9.  What is something somewhat unexpected that has happened in your career so far? 

I had not thought I would also be a producer, but that came along organically with fellow graduates from Juilliard.  We put together a show called 'Operation Superpower' which is now being performed in young artist programs for schools all over - right now, in fact, the Canadian Opera Company is touring it (here's a feature on that project)! Arts education is really important to me and hopefully this show helps in a small way to empower, educate and encourage the next generation to dream, grow and appreciate the classical arts.  

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Q & A with Mezzo-Soprano, Wallis Giunta. Performing with your ESO this Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 17:35
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This Christmas season, the Edmonton Symphony is teaming up with some very talented Canadian vocalists. Wallis Giunta, a mezzo-soprano, will be performing with the ESO at three performances this season: Handel’s Messiah (Dec 4 and 5), Christmas Classics (Dec 17), and We Wish You A Merry Christmas! (Dec 19-20). Earlier this week, we touched base with Wallis and got to know her a bit better. 

1.         Where did you grow up and where do you currently reside?

I grew up in Ottawa and now live in Leipzig, Germany.

2.         What do you like to do when you’re not performing? What are your hobbies?

I love to read! Currently working through the complete works of Dickens. I love hiking, biking, yoga and volunteering with small animal rescues wherever I am performing. John and I also collect tiny animal figurines, and I mean TINY. 

3.      Have you been to Edmonton before? If yes, have you performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in the past?

Yes, I performed Messiah with the ESO back in December of 2012. That was my first trip to Edmonton, and despite the deep freeze that year, I had a great time. 

4.      What is your favourite Christmas song?

That would have to be "O Come All Ye Faithful" because every year my family goes door to door caroling on our street and that is our signature song. We've worked out all the harmonies and I do the descant.

5.      What’s your favourite holiday treat?

Mulled wine, for sure!

 6.         What was Christmas like in your family growing up? How do you celebrate the holidays now?

I have been very fortunate to have only missed one Christmas at home in Ottawa with my family (I was performing at the Met). We go caroling on Christmas Eve and party with our neighbours, then have a sleep in on the 25th, followed by Dad's oatmeal and presents around noon. Then usually dinner at either of my parents' sides of the family. I have a huge family and they are mostly all in Ottawa, so we visit half on the 25th and the other half on the 26th. This year, John and I are heading to Ottawa after the last Pops concert on the 20th. We are so excited!

7.         What’s the #1 item on your Christmas wish list this year?

I'm more interested in the giving part. I make my own gifts by hand and I love watching people open them!

8.         What are you most looking forward to about the Christmas concerts with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra? Is there a particular piece of music that you are excited to perform?

I really love to sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with John. We have done it before in concert and it's always a hoot to pretend that I am trying to get away from him when, in reality, I just want to give him a big squeeze!

 9.         Would you share with us an embarrassing performance mishap that you experienced?

In my last production in Italy, I had to take a shot of "scotch" on stage in the middle of an aria. They substituted the scotch with ice tea, which was fine. But one day, the stagehands put ginger ale (by mistake?) and with all the bubbles I got a terrible case of hiccoughs. Let's just say, the second half of the aria was a little bumpy.

Christmas at The Winspear begins December 1, with An Irish Christmas with Eileen Ivers. www.edmontonsymphony.com

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Giving Tuesday!

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 16:52
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Today is Giving Tuesday! After the hustle and bustle from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, organizations around the world are celebrating giving in our communities. 

Today is a day dedicated to giving back and instead of asking you for something, we decided to create a video as a token of our gratitude to you, our loyal supporters! 

This Thanksgiving, we gave you the opportunity to fill out a thank you note to an ESO musician of your choice in our main lobby, and they loved it! Watch the video below to see how they reacted to their notes and how they truly want to thank you!

Giving Tuesday from Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Vimeo.

 

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Fantasy Worlds and Forgotten Realms - An Exciting Start To The Symphony For Kids Series!

Friday, 13 November 2015 16:59
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Our first Symphony for Kids concert, “Fantasy Worlds and Forgotten Realms” was built around amazing stories told in books, video games, and movies. In keeping with the fun, interactive nature of Symphony for Kids concerts, many of the concert attendees, Winspear staff, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra musicians showed up dressed as their favourite fantasy characters!

As one of the newest members of the Musical Creativity department, I hadn’t experienced a Symphony for Kids concert from behind-the-scenes until this show. Most of my involvement with the ESO is as a violinist and Teaching Artist with the YONA-Sistema (Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta).  With this concert, I had the opportunity to exercise my creativity in a non-musical way through planning and organizing our interactive pre-concert lobby activities.

At our craft station, kids could create and personalize a dragon mask with the help of our dedicated volunteers. The Edmonton Public library led a Story Circle to explore more fantastic stories and fairytales. A photo booth, complete with whimsical accessories, gave families a fun backdrop for pictures. Light saber experts taught kids how to “master the force” with light saber training. Our title sponsor, Landmark Homes, even got in on the fun by helping kids apply temporary tattoos.

For the main performance, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lucas Waldin were assisted in interpreting these fantastic stories by some special guests. Students from the Edmonton School of Ballet performed scenes from Alice in Wonderland and Hansel and Gretel. Kita no Taiko, a Japanese drum ensemble, told the tale of Raijin, a mischievous thunder god determined to ruin an outdoor festival. Movie soundtracks also made up a portion of the program. Music from The Lord of the Rings was brought to life through an appearance from Frodo and Galadriel (members of the ESO in costume!). 

My first Symphony for Kids concert was a ton of fun and my colleagues and I are already imagining what kinds of activities we’ll have for the next show, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”. Come check it out on Saturday, January 23! Lobby activities will start at 12:45 pm and the show starts at 2:00 pm.

-Lauren Dykstra, YONA-Sistema Lead Teaching Artist

 

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