It’s the time of year when Orchestras Canada’s inbox starts to fill up with references to holiday concerts—and, as a service for those of you seeking inspiration for next year’s festive season programming, we’ll summarize what we’ve seen so far.
In Halifax, Symphony Nova Scotia is presenting its 23rd annual production of The Nutcracker, a long-standing partnership with Halifax Dance and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia that brings together over 100 musicians, dancers, and production staff (and some giant puppets, too). Cast members range in age from 9 to 60 years of age, and eight performances are planned.
The Orchestre symphonique de Laval, led by music director Alain Trudel, presents its annual Christmas program on December 15, with a quartet of outstanding soloists and the Choeur de Laval. Featured repertoire includes the music by Charpentier, excerpts from Bach’s Christmas Cantata, and—of course—selections from The Messiah, along with an audience sing-along.
The Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra presents a seasonal medley of music on its holiday program, December 7th. The concert is conducted by Lenard Whiting and features Ensemble TrypTych and the UofT Scarborough Concert Choir, along with three carol arrangements by the versatile Charles Cozens. Mr. Cozens has prepared a special version of the Huron Carol that spotlights violin and flute soloists, along with an aboriginal drummer; Thunder Jack from the Toronto Native Cultural Centre.
The Windsor Symphony presents a pair of programs, both performed twice. The first, entitled Messiah and More, features new Music Director Robert Franz, a pair of soloists, and the WSO chorus in a program that features works by Coreilli, Bach, Vaughan Williams, and, of course, Handel, and will be performed in both Windsor and Tecumseh. The second concert, led by resident conductor Peter Wiebe, features veteran lyric tenor Mark Dubois and the Windsor Essex Youth Chorus in seasonal favourites, and will be heard in Windsor and Amherstburg.
The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra is putting the accent on youth, with a seasonal program that features the young musicians of the Rosedale Valley Strings (led by RDSO concertmaster Naomi Delafield) and a brand new composition by RDSO music director Claude Lapalme that features both the RDSO and their young guests.
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents a pair of programs that have evolved into Vancouver traditions over the years: nine performances of its itinerant Traditional Christmas concerts, performed in seven different venues throughout the Lower Mainland, led by Assistant Conductor Gordon Gerrard, and featuring the UBC Opera Ensemble, EnChor, and host Christopher Gaze; and a pair of performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, this year led by celebrated violinist Rachel Barton Pine. The VSO is also happy to help patrons with their Christmas shopping, offering a Symphony Sampler of four tickets for any of 14 specially-selected Classics and Pops concerts at the Orpheum or the Chan Centre, priced as low as $99. The gift-giver buys the voucher, and the recipient gets to choose their concert or concerts.