Immigration, Citizenship, and Culture Blog

A wonderful musical evening in Montréal with Hilary Hahn
By Stephen Fogarty April 30, 2014

A large audience was present in Montreal last Friday evening to hear the American violinist Hilary Hahn on tour with pianist Cory Smythe.  Ms Hahn’s warm and engaging personality helped to dispel the cool and rainy weather concert goers had faced on the way to the Maison Symphonique.   And then there was the music!Ms Hahn is well-known for her championing of modern music as well as pairing modern pieces with well established parts of the repertoire.  Hahn’s current tour follows the release of her latest CD, 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores.  She undertook this project to encourage contemporary composers and to increase the repertoire of encores available for classical artists.  She is playing two of these compositions on tour.   These contemporary works tied in well with the overall theme of the evening which was thematic development and fantasy. Read More

Rachmaninov’s 3rd rocks Montreal’s Maison symphonique
By Stephen Fogarty March 7, 2013

By Stephen FogartyWhen the soloist was sitting down on Saturday night, I said to my concert companion, “He looks strong enough to break the piano!”  The soloist in question was Denis Matsuev and I would not be surprised to learn that he was also a judoka on the Russian Olympic Team.So considering pure physicality, we knew we were in strong hands to perform what many claim to be the most demanding of all piano concertos, Rachmaninov’s 3rd.  This piece includes many forceful passages with the piano and orchestra playing simultaneously, as well as a number of dialogues between piano and orchestra sections, especially the brass.  You simply won’t hear the piano most of the time unless it is played vigorously. Also much of the piano’s work is set at a very fast pace.  The whole thing has the serious potential of flying apart in all directions. Read More

Maxim Vengerov gives a fascinating Violin Master Class in Montreal
By Stephen Fogarty November 7, 2012

Photo ©2012 Stephen FogartyAbout 120 violin students and classical music fans of all ages were privileged to attend a fascinating Master Class given by the Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov in Montréal on Friday, October 26.  Mr. Vengerov was in town performing in and conducting two concerts by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM).  The program notes mentioned that Mr. Vengerov now divides his time equally among playing the violin, conducting, and teaching.  His skills in the first two are universally acclaimed, and it was apparent only a few minutes into the Master Class that his skills as a teacher are on an equally high level.The Master Class featured four Montréal area up-and-coming, young violinists each of whom would begin playing a work for some five to eight minutes.  Mr. Vengerov would then give a general overview of their efforts, followed by a review of particular passages to work on technique.  He often illustrated the points by playing on his own ex-Kreutzer 1728 Stradivari, and toward the end even played a duet with one of the students, Baptiste Rodrigues. Read More

A heroic performance by the McGill Symphony Orchestra
By Stephen Fogarty November 4, 2012

An enthusiastic crowd packed Pollack Hall on a chilly November 1st evening to hear the McGill Symphony Orchestra (MGSO), which played three works, two rarely performed and one a cornerstone of modern Western culture.The concert began with the 1920 version of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments. This rather sombre, one-movement work of some 10 minutes duration was dedicated to the memory of Debussy.  Its interesting progressions provide ample opportunity for wind musicians to showcase their talents, which the McGill players surely did. Read More

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