Classical music for all Albertans

Alberta Symphony Orchestra performs on November 14

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Maestro Emilio De Mercato is bringing the Alberta Symphony Orchestra to Fort McMurray on Saturday, November 14. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Maestro Emilio De Mercato is bringing the Alberta Symphony Orchestra to Fort McMurray on Saturday, November 14. SUPPLIED PHOTO

The Alberta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is making its way to the Keyano Recital Theatre stage for the Premiere Tour on November 14 with local soprano Cara Brown. Beginning on October 2 in Edmonton, Fort McMurray marks the eighth city (which includes: Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Red Deer, Calgary, Lloydminister, Grand Prairie, Peace River, Fort McMurray, Camrose and Lethbridge) on the 10-stop, across-the-province tour.

The premiere tour is an initiative by the newly formed Alberta Symphony Orchestra Society with a goal to promote and present classical music to Alberta communities. With a collaboration of symphonic works arranged for chamber formation. The program will feature Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, a selection of songs from Puccini, Gershwin, Chausson, Arlen and Denza.

Italian music director and pianist Emilio De Mercato founded ASO, which includes a string quintet with Etelka Nyilasi, Marie Krejcar and Leanne Maitland; as well as, Amy Nicholson on cello and Jonathan Yeoh on double bass.

With De Mercato conducting and performing on the piano, he said he believed that “in Alberta, there is a great need and potential for a new reality that will support a growth in the culture sector of classic music.”

De Mercato explains how Edmonton and Calgary are the only two major cities with professional symphony orchestras, and the surrounding communities throughout Alberta have little chance to see live performances.

“They are starving for classical music events,” he said. “The Alberta Symphony Orchestra will be an orchestra for all Albertans.”

“They are starving for classical music events,” he said. “The Alberta Symphony Orchestra will be an orchestra for all Albertans.”

De Mercato has been promoting the project since August of 2014 by meeting with a variety of individuals with different expertise backgrounds, including: fellow musicians, doctors, community leaders, politicians, teachers, etc. Shortly after he found support, De Mercato set out to find like-minded musicians to join him in his journey.

“I wanted to share my ideas with most people on the project that needed to find great support,” he said. “For the tour, I searched the best string players in Alberta available to form a string quintet that would travel and perform with me. And I created a very special program featuring symphonic works arranged for chamber formation, with a variety of combinations from operatic music with the Overture from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, to the Emperor Piano Concerto by Beethoven, from the well-known Hungarian Dance n.5 by Brahms, to a wonderful selection of songs and inviting one of the best soprano singers in Alberta, Cara Brown.”

Brown shares her experience of the travel and how it’s adding the realness of being on tour with fellow musicians – even when the unexpected, though common, road trip mishaps occur.

“It’s definitely a new experience for me to be travelling with an ensemble,” she said. “For some of the concerts, I’ve met with the group at the venues. And other concerts, I have travelled by van or flights with them. When the van we were in had a flat tire, on the way to Lloydminister; that was a great bonding experience. The musicians all took out their instruments and played for the horses in the field and geese in the sky.”

On the music, Brown expressed the importance of sharing classical compositions with Alberta, and hopes the genre will foster through each age group.

“There is a depth and richness to this music that is difficult for me to put into words. It’s so important to foster an appreciation, an understanding, and perhaps even a love for classical music in the younger generations,” said Cara Brown.

“Classical music is so much more accessible than many people think,” she said. “There is a depth and richness to this music that is difficult for me to put into words. It’s so important to foster an appreciation, an understanding, and perhaps even a love for classical music in the younger generations.”

Of the performance, she says she’s “honoured to be on this Premiere Tour with the ASO Ensemble”, and the experience this far has left her in “awe of the incredible music being played” on each stage.

“Every night, as I get ready backstage during the first half, I am completely in awe and realize, all over again, that I get to join the musicians in the second half,” Brown said. “Each night that I sing the pieces that Emilio and I carefully chose, I love them even more.”

Tickets for November 14’s performance can be purchased at the Keyano Theatre Box Office. The tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. (Children 12 and under are free).

– Connect Weekly –