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Ludwig Van
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WHO'S WHO | World’s Top Composers Featured in Esprit Orchestra 2015-16 Season

By Member on September 10, 2015

Esprit OrchestraND3_6019
Esprit Orchestra

Who’s Who From Esprit Orchestra

Music by the world’s most important and influential composers combines with brilliant Canadian compositions in Esprit Orchestra’s 2015-2016 Subscription Concert Series conducted by Alex Pauk. World Premieres of new Canadian compositions feature prominently along with exceptional guest artists including The Elmer Iseler Singers, hot young cellist Bryan Cheng and Esprit’s principal trumpet player, Robert Venables. All concerts, starting at 8:00 pm at Koerner Hall, are preceded by informative pre-concert talks. Concert dates are: October 4, November 15, January 24 and March 31.

The series opens on October 4th with a concert titled Con Brio, named after the work of German composer Jörg Widmann, whose piece sets the pace for the program. Hurtling along at a speed set to create a sense of being “on the verge of the unplayable”, Widmann’s Con Brio produces a sense of daring and excitement as it transforms fast, furious characteristics from Beethoven’s 7th and 8th symphonies into an effervescent torrent of sound.

Inspired by Nordic mythology and adapting Estonian folk idioms, the World Premiere of Canadian Omar Daniel’s Sinfonia Concertante, subtitled The Husband Killer’s Dream, portrays a mysterious intrigue. Canadian star Zosha Di Castri was the first young composer chosen for the New Voices project organized by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas with the New World Symphony (Miami) and San Francisco Symphony and music publisher Boosey & Hawkes. Esprit will perform her work Lineage, a major work alluding to an imagined culture from the past. The work was commissioned as the centrepiece for Zosha’s New Voices stint.

Two pieces by the prodigious British composer Thomas Adès appear in Esprit’s line-up this season, with the October concert, including the witty and surreal arrangement for large orchestra of Dances from Powder Her Face. Powder Her Face is the composer’s chamber opera depicting the sex scandal and gossip surrounding the Duchess of Argyll in mid-20th century British aristocracy.

Play, Esprit’s concert on November 15th, features two entire symphonies. The first, Tevot by Thomas Adès, in one grand movement, brings together the largest group of musicians Esprit has put onstage to date. Its title, in Hebrew, means bars of music and also, in the Bible, is the ark of Noah and the cradle in which the baby Moses is carried on the river. The astonishing, subtly-layered orchestral sonorities of this work affirm Adès’ mastery of instrumental theatre.

The concert continues with Play, a kaleidoscopic 45-minute symphony by today’s fastest-rising young American composer, Andrew Norman. In three movements (Levels 1, 2 and 3), the work encompasses various meanings of play with musical ideas furiously ricocheting off one another to evoke a variety of feelings – some light-hearted, some sinister. Critic William Robin generated controversy by boldly suggesting that Play “might be the best orchestral work that the 20th century has seen thus far”.

Balancing the program will be a performance of Montreal composer John Rea’s Zefiro torna, an Esprit- commissioned work of exquisite, sensuous beauty. The work’s title makes reference to a sonnet of the same name written by Francesco Petrarca and set almost three hundred years later as a five-voice madrigal by Claudio Monteverdi.

Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason’s Bow to String headlines Esprit’s January 24th concert. In Esprit’s performance of the cello and ensemble version of the piece, the solo part will be performed by gifted 18 year-old cellist Bryan Cheng, making a return visit with Esprit. Bryan was recently named by CBC Radio as one of Canada’s hot 30 performers under the age of 30.

As a postlude and souvenir of Esprit’s recent tour in China which featured Canadian music, the program includes two works which received tumultuous applause on tour: R. Murray Schafer’s The Falcon’s Trumpet and Alexina Louie’s Imaginary Opera. Esprit’s principal trumpet player, Robert Venables, is soloist in the Schafer and the orchestra’s principal players are featured in Louie’s mysterious, imagined ghost opera. Canadian composer Samuel Andreyev, living in France, will make a return appearance for the World Premiere of his Movements and Measures, the second work in a trilogy that began with a work he composed for Esprit last season.

Esprit’s final concert of the season, on Thursday March 31st, takes its title and theme from the opening work on the program – Darius Milhaud’s 1923 dance score La création du monde reflecting the 1920s Parisian rage for African and Afro-American art, fashion, dance and music. The piece relates an African mythological account of the world’s beginning.

The Elmer Iseler Singers are Esprit’s guest performers for the World Premiere of Alex Pauk’s Soul and Psyche for choir and orchestra, a work drawing from a rich reservoir of myths, rituals and sacred systems to express powerful humanistic and spiritual themes. The Iseler Singers, conducted by their Music Director Lydia Adams, will perform devotional miniatures from Hussein Janmohamed’s Nur: Reflections on Light for choir alone, originally composed for the opening of the Aga Khan Museum.

Finally, Esprit will perform the World Premiere of Douglas Schmidt’s alluring Sirens which refers to the enchanting music and voices that, in many mythologies and cultures, represent seductive weapons of fatal destruction.




Venue: Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning 273 Bloor Street West

Venue Phone: 416.408.0208


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Esprit Orchestra is Canada’s only full sized orchestra devoted exclusively to the performance of new music. Esprit brings new Canadian music to a broader audience, both in the concert hall and beyond.


Inspiring, innovative, and powerful: this is what audience members are saying. Esprit’s concerts provide more than the typical orchestral experience. Esprit’s repertoire challenges and engages listeners and connects them to the music and performers in illuminating and entertaining ways. Our audiences experience the force of creative energy as the orchestra translates the imagined musical impulses of today’s composers into real sounds.

Esprit Orchestra was founded in 1983 by Alex Pauk, who continues to serve as Esprit’s Music Director and Conductor. He was recently appointed to the Order of Canada for his contributions to the development of contemporary Canadian orchestral music and for his promotion of Canadian composers. He has assembled a core of 65 leading Canadian musicians with the special skills and dedication required to perform contemporary orchestral music.

Currently in its 32nd season, Esprit Orchestra presents an annual four-concert subscription in Toronto at the acoustically acclaimed superb Koerner Hall, Esprit’s home venue since 2009. Esprit has an extensive discography and has recorded numerous soundtracks both for performing arts films as well as feature films providing Esprit with a global reach.


Every season, over 2000 young people participate in Esprit’s education programs. Esprit’s Toward A Living Art Education Program makes new music accessible by directly engaging young audiences in new listening experiences, and developing discussions with composers and performers. The program features free open rehearsals that promote active learning through exposure to new Canadian compositions and the rehearsal processes that bring them to life.

Creative Sparks is Esprit’s mentoring program connecting students with living composers and musicians through the creation of new student compositions to be performed by Esprit or students in combination with Esprit players. Over a three month-long period, students are guided in new forms of creative musical expression and the special performance techniques associated with them.

Esprit’s Education and Outreach programming along with our commissioning projects foster the development of young Canadian musicians and artists. Through these avenues, we are inspiring future generations of musicians and composers, as well as developing attuned and appreciative audiences.


The Folks Behind It All

ND3_6932 Alex Pauk, Conductor

Alex Pauk, C.M., B.Ed., B.Mus.

Conductor and Composer

Founding Music Director of Esprit Orchestra

Maestro Alex Pauk has had much to do with revitalizing the Canadian orchestral music scene for audiences and Canadian composers alike. By founding Esprit Orchestra in 1983, he has provided a home and performance platform for new orchestral music. Through building the Orchestra and sustaining its high calibre performances, commissioning works from established and aspiring Canadian composers, innovative programming, recordings, and, education and outreach initiatives, Pauk has made Esprit a major force for developing and promoting Canadian music at home and abroad. Simply put, Esprit Orchestra is unique amongst all other orchestras in Canada.

In 2007, Alex Pauk was awarded the prestigious Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, and in 1999 was named Musician of the Year by peers at the Toronto Musicians’ Association. He has also been a recipient of The Louis Applebaum Award for Film Score Composition as well as the Golden Sheaf Award for Best Film Score at The Yorkton Film Festival.

In addition to conducting an outstanding annual series of concerts in Koerner Hall, one of Canada’s finest performing venues, he has led the Orchestra on several Canadian and European tours and has created innovative performances in alternative locations such as night clubs, art galleries and the outdoors. He has conducted the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the Québec Symphony, the Hannaford Street Silver Band and the Toronto Symphony.

As a composer he has composed more than sixty works and has a wide range of experience with works for every kind of performing ensemble in the concert hall and for theatre, film, television and dance companies.

In 2014, in recognition for his significant lifetime contribution to Canadian orchestral music, Alex Pauk was appointed to the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour.



1: Con Brio

Sunday October 4, 2015

8:00 pm Concert | 7:15 pm Pre-Concert Chat

Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, the Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor Street West



Zosha Di Castri (Canada)Lineage (2013)
Jörg Widmann (Germany)Con Brio (2008)
Omar Daniel (Canada)Sinfonia Concertante* (2015)
Mehetapja Meeli Unistus (The Husband Killer’s Dream)
Thomas Adès (England)Dances from Powder Her Face** (2007)

2: Play

Sunday November 15, 2015

8:00 pm Concert | 7:15 Pre-Concert Chat

Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, the Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor Street West



Andrew Norman (U.S.A.)Play* (2014)
Thomas Adès (England)Tevot** (2007)
John Rea (Canada)Zefiro torna (Zephyr Returns) (1994)

3: Bow to String, Air to Breath

Sunday January 24, 2016

8:00 pm Concert | 7:15 Pre-Concert Chat

Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, the Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor Street West



Daniel Bjarnason (Iceland)Bow to String (2010)
solo cello and ensemble version (2012)
Alexina Louie (Canada)Imaginary Opera (2004)
Samuel Andreyev (Canada)Movements and Measures* (2015)
R. Murray Schafer (Canada)The Falcon’s Trumpet (1995)
for trumpet and orchestra

Alex Pauk – conductor
Bryan Cheng – cello
Robert Venables – trumpet

4: La création du monde

Thursday March 31, 2016

8:00 pm Concert | 7:15 Pre-Concert Chat

Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, the Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor Street West



Darius Milhaud (France/U.S.A.)La création du monde (1923)
Hussein Janmohamed (Canada)Nur: Reflections on Light (2014)
for choir
Douglas Schmidt (Canada)Sirens* (2016)
Alex Pauk (Canada)Soul and Psyche** (2016)
for choir and orchestra

Alex Pauk – conductor
The Elmer Iseler Singers
Lydia Adams – guest conductor

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Ludwig Van Toronto


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