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PREVIEW | Orchestra Toronto & The Canadian Children’s Opera Company Celebrate Winter In Music

By Anya Wassenberg on November 29, 2023

L-R: Orchestra Toronto with Conductor Michael Newnham (Photo: Amara Photo Studios); the Canadian Children's Opera Company (Photo courtesy of the CCOC)
L-R: Orchestra Toronto with Conductor Michael Newnham (Photo: Amara Photo Studios); the Canadian Children’s Opera Company (Photo courtesy of the CCOC)

Community is always worth celebrating with music, no matter what the occasion. Orchestra Toronto and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company are getting together in a concert titled A Winter Festival to put a seasonal spin on the celebration.

The all-ages concert includes repertoire that spotlights the icy beauty of winter with music that evokes sleigh rides, snowflakes, and the warmth of companionship.

The focus is also on the community, and coming together for an upbeat afternoon of music.

The Concert

The programme includes seasonal favourites:

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Selections from The Nutcracker;
  • Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs of the Four Seasons;
  • Anthony Gunadi: Snowflakes by the Hearth;
  • John Debney: Suite from Elf.

The concert will include the premiere of Snowflakes by the Hearth by Anthony Gunadi. Anthony is the winner of a special competition for young composers under the age of 25 that was created for the occasion of this concert. His piece is inspired by the warmth of a fireside gathering at the Winter Solstice.

“The variety of the program features OT and the CCOC in various musical settings, from the familiar richness of the Nutcracker to carols and music for Hanukkah, as well as many popular favourites,” explains Music Director Michael Newnham in a media release.

Orchestra Toronto

Orchestra Toronto’s slogan is “music for the love of it”, and it’s made up of 90 Toronto musicians who are part of a positive community that supports emerging talent along with encouraging education and the sheer enjoyment of performing music.

Michael Newnham, Music Director

A native of Hamilton, Newnham graduated with a degree in conducting from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland. He also studied at the Indiana University of Music and at the University of Toronto.

He has earned multiple awards from his work, including the Order of Merit from the Republic of Poland and Best Conductor Award from the East Slovakian State Opera.

Michael has conducted orchestras and opera companies across Canada as well as in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Italy and South Korea.

He is also an educator, and has been a faculty member as conductor and chamber music coach at Music at Port Milford, an award-winning summer camp for kids, for several years. He was a Guest Professor and Orchestra Conductor at Taegu-Hyosung University in South Korea for two years.

Along with being Music Director of Orchestra Toronto, he also holds the position of Music Director of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he was Music Director of Symphony New Brunswick, Camerata NB from 2009 to 2018.

The Canadian Children’s Opera Company (CCOC)

From a single chorus at its founding 55 years ago, the CCOC now incorporates more than six choruses. Their event calendar is a busy one, with many high profile guest appearances with major companies, including regular appearances with the Canadian Opera Company, and Orchestra Toronto. The company has been involved in major recording projects, such as composer Alice Ho’s The Monkiest King, released in 2018.

The CCOC has created a nurturing environment for young people’s opera, which includes commissioning operas written for young voices along with presenting professional self-produced operas. Young singers work with professional conductors and directors, and are supported by a team that includes drama coaches, collaborative pianists. They have the opportunity to learn how to develop strong vocal and performance skills.

Along with performances and music instruction, the company has an active outreach programme that extends to hundreds of kids and their families each year.

  • The family friendly concert takes place December 10 at 3 p.m. at George Weston Recital Hall. More information and tickets available [HERE].

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