LSM Newswire

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Rhythms of the Sea with Canadian pianist Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin

Extraordinary Canadian pianist Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin performs

Mozart and Messiaen

Vancouver BC ’Äì The final Accenture Masterworks Gold series concert of the season features French-Canadian pianist Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin and takes place on Saturday & Monday, May 31st & June 2nd at the Orpheum Theatre. Maestro Bramwell Tovey conducts.

This concert is an Impressionist canvass. The fascinating exploration of the sounds of various exotic birdsong that is Messiaen’Äôs Oiseaux exotiques (Exotic Birds) is utterly unique and entirely characteristic of Messiaen. The piece explores the sounds of over forty species of birds, but not in a literal manner; rather, the music is a sonic fantasy on the inspiration provided to Messiaen by the songs of those birds, telling a story rather than imitating the birds or painting a literal picture. Impressionism at its finest!

One of Messiaen’Äôs great muses was Claude Debussy, that giant of the time who single-handedly provided much of the transition from the late-Romantic era to modernism. A lover of the arcane and mysterious, and a deep appreciator of visual art, his body of work speaks of impressionism and mystery, flavoured with an elusiveness uniquely his own. Similar to the Oiseaux exotiques, Debussy’Äôs La Mer creates an emotional soundscape rather than telling a literal and detailed story. La Mer is like an Impressionistic sonic mosaic, rich in colour, motifs and evocation of feelings as opposed to direct description. Deeply felt and powerful music, Debussy’Äôs La Mer is one of the greatest of Impressionistic works.

Montrˆ©al native Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin is internationally renowned for his musical virtuosity and refined pianism. The 2008 JUNO Award Winner (for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble) collaborates with the JUNO and GRAMMY winning VSO to perform the type of exotic and adventurous repertoire that has made him famous, including Messiaen’Äôs Oiseaux exotiques and Mozart’Äôs Rondo in D Major.

"Hamelin's legend will grow - right now there is no one like him"
~ The New Yorker

"One of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times..."
~ International Piano Quarterly

’ÄúUltimate Perfection.’Äù

~ The Times

In special recognition of his body of work, Mr. Hamelin was made a Chevalier de l’ÄôOrdre national du Quˆ©bec and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005. In 2006, he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada. A distinguished recording artist, Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin’Äôs Grammy-nominated recording of Haydn’Äôs Piano Sonatas was on the ’ÄúBest of 2007’Äù lists of the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the New Yorker Magazine.

Both evenings of this concert will include a pre-concert talk by VSO Principal Percussion Vern Griffiths, at 7:05pm. The pre-concert talk is free to ticket holders.


Accenture Masterworks Gold Series

The Rhythms of the Sea

Saturday, May 31, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre

Monday, June 2, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre

Bramwell Tovey conductor

Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin piano

Vern Griffiths percussion

Brahms Variations on a Theme of Haydn

Messiaen Oiseaux exotiques

Mozart Rondo in D Major

Debussy La Mer

Ticket prices: $25 - $78 (Student, Senior and Subscriber discounts available)

Tickets Available at VSO Customer Service, 604.876.3434; Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone, 604.280.3311; online at

Series Generously Sponsored By:


Radio Sponsor:



Bramwell Tovey, conductor

A musician of striking versatility, Bramwell Tovey is acknowledged around the world for his artistic depth and warm, charismatic personality on the podium. Tovey’Äôs career as a conductor is uniquely enhanced by his work as a composer and pianist, lending him a remarkable musical perspective.

His tenures as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras have been characterized by his expertise in the opera, choral, and British repertoire. Tovey recently garnered a 2007 Grammy Award and a 2007 Juno Award for his recording with violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony. Recently named Principal Guest Conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, he works frequently with the Toronto Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, among many others. He has presided as host and conductor of the New York Philharmonic’Äôs Summertime Classics series at Avery Fisher Hall since its founding in 2004.

A champion of contemporary music, Tovey developed the highly regarded New Music Festival in Winnipeg, during his tenure as Music Director. As a composer, he was honored with the Best Canadian Classical Composition Juno Award in 2003 for his Requiem for a Charred Skull. Upcoming new works include a co-commission for the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics’Äô respective 2008 summer seasons as well as a full-length opera for the Calgary Opera, The Inventor, to premiere in January of 2011.

Tovey has been awarded honorary degrees, including a Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Music in London, honorary Doctorates of Law from the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, and Kwantlen University College, as well as a Royal Conservatory of Music Fellowship in Toronto. In 1999, he received the M. Joan Chalmers National Award for Artistic Direction, a Canadian prize awarded to artists for outstanding contributions in the performing arts.

Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin, piano

Marc-Andrˆ© Hamelin began the 2007/08 season in debuts with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood for Beethoven "Emperor" Piano Concerto No. 5 led by Jens Georg Bachmann, and at the Mostly Mozart Festival performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453 with Louis Langrˆ©e. In recital this season, Mr. Hamelin debuts with Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, with Chicago Symphony Presents, at the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, at Mostly Mozart, and with the Celebrity Series of Boston. He performs in chamber concerts with Midori at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and at the Kennedy Center, returns to San Francisco Performances for a two-recital series, and performs recitals throughout Europe and North America.

Recent highlights include the world premiere of Kevin Volans' Piano Concerto for his debut with the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas; Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 for a return to the Detroit Symphony with Kwame Ryan; Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 with Sir Neville Marriner and the Montreal Symphony; Messiaen's "Turangalila" with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Sir Andrew Davis; Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 with the Vancouver Symphony led by Tania Miller, and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 to close the Kansas City Symphony's season with Michael Stern.

Under exclusive contract with Hyperion Records, Mr. Hamelin's recent two-disc set of Haydn Piano Sonatas was named on "Best of 2007" lists in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the New Yorker magazine, and is nominated for a "Best Solo Instrumental" Grammy. In 2001, with a double nomination for the epic Busoni Concerto with the CBSO under Mark Elder and the Chopin-Godowsky, Mr. Hamelin was the only classical artist to play live at the Grammy Awards. He received another Grammy nomination in 2002 for his recording featuring the works of Alkan. His double album of the complete Chopin-Godowsky Etudes won the 2000 Gramophone Instrumental Award, and in December 2006, he was awarded the Preis der Deutsche Schallplattenkritik, in special acknowledgement of his complete body of recorded works.

In 2005 Mr. Hamelin was honoured to be made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Quˆ©bec.

Vern Griffiths, percussion

Vern Griffiths quickly established himself as a respected performer, educator and collaborator after joining the Vancouver Symphony as Principal Percussionist in 1997. He also currently plays with the CBC Radio Orchestra and two new music chamber groups: Standing Wave and the Turning Point Ensemble. Vern can be heard on recordings with all of these groups, as well as on soundtracks for Disney, ABC, IMAX, NFB, EA Sports, and DreamWorks. Other recent performances include Festival Vancouver, Music on Main, FUSE, the John Cage Festival, Music in the Morning, and substituting as timpanist with the Victoria Symphony.

Born and raised in North Vancouver, Vern has degrees in both Commerce and Music from the University of British Columbia, studying percussion with John Rudolph who was the VSO’Äôs Principal Percussionist at the time. Vern then moved to New York and earned his Master of Music degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, as a scholarship student of Chris Lamb of the New York Philharmonic and Duncan Patton of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Other studies include the Aspen Music Festival, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the National Orchestral Institute (Maryland), the Altenberg Music Festival (Germany), and the Leigh Stevens Marimba Seminar.

A committed educator, Vern has been teaching at UBC since 1997, becoming head of the percussion department and director of the Percussion Ensemble in 2005. Students of his have gone on to study with Alan Abel, Russell Hartenberger, John Rudolph, Don Liuzzi, Jack Van Geem, and Nancy Zeltsman; and have participated in the Aspen Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, and National Youth Orchestra of Canada. One former student is now the Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Symphony.

Vern has been featured as a soloist on numerous occasions with the VSO and is proud to be a part of the VSO’Äôs Kids Koncert series this season with a very fun show he wrote called Wall to Wall Percussion. It features all the musicianship, zaniness and creativity that go into being a percussionist. The show takes place "at Vern’Äôs house", and thus the stage will be full ’Äúliterally from wall to wall ’Äúwith instruments, a kitchen, an instrument-making workshop, living room, and more. There is plenty of audience participation (think "boom-chagalagalaga") and fun for everyone!

Vern takes an active role in other facets of the VSO family, including being the Chair of the Artistic Advisory Committee, a member of the Programming Committee, and one of the musician representatives on the VSO’Äôs Board of Directors. He has also become acquainted with many of the Patrons and Volunteers of the VSO, and is extremely grateful to these generous members of our community who support symphonic music in Vancouver.

Vern is very proud that the Principal Percussion chair is endowed by his friend and generous patron of the arts, Martha Lou Henley.


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