LSM Newswire

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NAC Orchestra receives rave reviews on Western Canada Tour


NAC Orchestra returns home in triumph from its Western Canada Tour after a series of rave reviews, standing ovations and successful education activities.

Ottawa, Ontario The National Arts Centre Orchestras Western Canada Tour came to a close on November 12 after taking the musicians across four provinces plus their first-ever trip to the Yukon, received multiple standing ovations and rave reviews at every concert. The Performance and Education Tour also included over 130 education activities in 27 different communities reaching some 9,000 children and young musicians.

The National Arts Centre Orchestra spent 20 days connecting with Canadians from Victoria to Whitehorse to Winnipeg, with exhilarating results, said NAC Orchestra Managing Director Christopher Deacon. Audiences cheered the music-making at concerts, and teachers and students engaged with Pinchas Zukerman, Jon Kimura Parker, Alexina Louie and our musicians in the classroom. I feel that our Orchestra has deepened its relationship with the country. More touring for all of Canadas orchestras is something the cultural and educational communities should work towards.

The National Arts Centre Foundation gratefully acknowledges support for the Western Canada Tour from Presenting Partner EnCana, Signature Education Partner Agrium, and the NAC Friends and Trailblazers.

The details and impressions of the Tour are available for continued enjoyment on the National Arts Centres Western Canada Tour website at www.NACOTour.ca which features blogs by a variety of participants as well as extensive photographs.

Here is what the critics said:

Move to keep with tradition pays off big for orchestra: NACOs performance nothing less than magnificent

The playing [in Mozarts Violin Concerto No. 3] was absolute elegance with the tenderest of phrasing, and beautifully decorative flourishes. The slow movementĶcould hardly have been improved upon. Then the NACs 46 players were boosted up from classical size to considerably more for Tchaikovsky [Symphony No. 5]. Zukerman and his players produced a performance that was nothing less than magnificent [Ķ.] The 45 minutes flew, the feeling in the house was rapt, and at the end, there was a standing ovation: not just the usual half-assed one it looked like everybody in the house. As for Alexina Louies Infinite Sky with Birds, it was pleasant, deft and actually suggestive of flight.

Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, B.C.

National Arts Centre Orchestra moves audience

The second movement [of Beethovens Piano Concerto No. 4] allowed the piano and orchestra to work together building a sense of mystery and wonder. Farther into the piece, piano passages permitted magnificent manipulative dexterity. Building to a tremendous finish by the end of the third movement, the performers enthusiastic playing was caught by the audience. [Ķ]The audience acted like they didnt want the evening to end and many stayed for a post-concert discussion with conductor [James] Judd and pianist [Jon] Kimura Parker.

Prince George Citizen, Prince George, B.C.

National Arts Centre Orchestra delights Prince George audience Fans won on orchestral road trip

The National Arts Centre Orchestra is a national treasure. How wonderful for us that Prince George was part of their Western Canada Tour. [ Ķ] British born conductor James Judd is the quintessential maestro, born for the partĶThere is no baton. Rather, hes like a clever magician coaxing not doves but beautiful sound from a secret place. Spellbinding. Afterwards, there was an invitation to linger and ask questions of Parker and Judd. Many did and were rewarded with candid comments and a rare insight into their lives and careers and off stage personalities. [Ķ] Taking time out for the audience (and students in schools) won the NAC orchestra lots of points and new fans here.

Prince George Free Press, Prince George, B.C.

An orchestra heads north of 60

The last time tickets for a performance at the Yukon Arts Centre were in such demand, it was for the White Stripes. The centre has no online booking facility, so fans spent the night on a Whitehorse sidewalk to nab one of the 424 tickets - which were gone in eight minutes.

Globe and Mail (report on NACOs first Yukon visit)

Composers presence delights astonished musician

[Jon Kimura] Parker performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra Wednesday evening at a sold-out Yukon Arts Centre [Ķ] Parker and Louie were both in Whitehorse with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, in part to play a mid-week concert at the Yukon Arts Centre, but also to share their vast musical knowledge and experience with the next generation of classical musicians. [Ķ.] If you dont do it, its a wasted opportunity, Parker said of the classes and school concerts. Pinchas (Zuckerman, NACO music director) is adamant that this is a part of what we do.

Whitehorse Star, Whitehorse, Yukon Territories (report on masterclass)

Gala for a music giant

The renowned violinist and music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra [Pinchas Zukerman] brought his musicians to town last week for a benefit concert raising $40,000 each for the Victoria Symphony and NAC summer programs and to offer an array of masterclasses with himself and principal NAC musicians.

Victoria Times Colonist, Victoria, B.C. (report on NACO visit)

Hot, crowded house savours NAC concert

Sundays performance by the National Arts Centre Orchestra was a rare treat indeed, the elite ensembles first performance in Kamloops in its 39-year history. [Ķ] A crowd-pleasing program anchored by Mozart and Beethoven, backed by Parkers virtuosic delivery and the orchestras exceptional polish, drew successive standing ovations.

The famed Jupiter Symphony was an ideal selection to show the orchestra at its best lush and melodic, summoning all the power of the 65-member orchestras as it built to its grand finale. [Ķ] Chalk this one up, easily one of the top concerts of the year in Kamloops. Other audiences took in master class performances earlier in the day featuring Parker and violinist Elaine Klimasko.

Daily News, Kamloops, Kamloops B.C.

Orchestras unite in triumphant performance

Billed as East Meets West, the joint concert of two of Canadas fine orchestras was one of the great populist events of the year. [Ķ] It was the Fifth Symphony that featured both orchestras playing together, a performance led with full emotional engagement by the NACs Pinchas Zuckerman. This is music that temperamentally lies close to Zuckermans heart, and in his shaping of the beloved melodies of this great symphony, he showed himself a master of the romantic gesture at its most expressive and opulent. With literally an army of strings at his command, not to mention the substantial woodwind and brass sections, Zuckerman had the forces to produce an overwhelming account of the symphony, the wonderful second movement transporting in its feeling, and the finale cathartic. [Ķ]

Equally exciting was Jon Kimura Parkers thrilling performance of the First Piano Concerto. This is a concert that perfectly suits Parkers extrovert temperament and one that permits a display of his dazzling keyboard skills. [Ķ]

The concert opened with a work by Canadian composer Alexina Louie entitled Infinite Sky with Birds. Like other of the composers works, this is really an impressionist tone poem on the subject of birds, if musically in a modern vein. The work is well written for the orchestra and the ideas fundamentally cheerful and energetic.

Calgary Herald, Calgary, AB

NAC orchestra delivers unscheduled delights

Music fans were treated to a spectacular concert on Sunday night, when Canadas National Arts Centre Orchestra performed at TCU Place as a benefit for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Throughout the evening, the NAC Orchestra, led by renowned conductor Pinchas Zukerman, was amazing. The concert earned four - yes, four - standing ovations from the thrilled crowd, and audience members were left astounded. [Ķ] I feel thankful I had the opportunity to attend such a fabulous concert. We, as Canadians, should be proud we have a touring orchestra of this calibre.

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix , Saskatoon, SK

NAC orchestra pleased, no strings attached

Both pianist and orchestra combined musical sensitivity with technical excellence. Parkers touch on the keys was exquisitely tender during pianissimo sections, thunderously robust in the fortissimo passages, and always masterfully musical. A well-deserved standing ovation followed immediately upon the heels of the fiery and flamboyant third movementĶOnce again [in Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 5], the lush strings starred, although the fine brass and woodwind section also had opportunity to shine. Of particular note was the famous melody introduced by the French horns in the second movement, played with glorious sensitivity. [Ķ] Pinchas Zuckerman, the famed conductor of the NAC Orchestra, was a joy to watch. He conducts sometimes as if hes shaping the orchestra like clay; sometimes as if hes using the musicians as pigments to paint a picture; sometimes as if theyre chisels hes using to sculpt marble. [ Ķ] Unsurprisingly, the audience leaped to its feet again at the end of the symphony and put its own hands together to create the best music of all: thunderous (and well-deserved) applause.

Regina Leader-Post , Regina, SK

World-class orchestra had audience hooked

This world-class orchestra hooked us from the very first note they played and didnt let go until the last whisper of sound echoed through Centennial Concert Hall. They excel at everything they do and there was not a hint of travel fatigue as they played their final concert of a 20-day Western Canada Tour. On the podium was renowned music director/ violinist/ violist Pinchas Zukerman, whose inspired musical vision was thoroughly brought to life by the musicians. The program for the evening was almost entirely Tchaikovsky and the audience was taken through an emotionally charged journey that left us almost breathless.

Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64 was poignancy itself with its opening clarinet solo, played to controlled perfection by principal clarinet Kimball Sykes. Zukermans interpretation brought new freshness and vibrancy to a familiar favourite. The impressive brass section held nothing back and was spot on throughout. The cello section made the melody line sing, wringing every ounce of emotion from the unabashedly romantic second movement. The frothy waltz movement was appropriately light and fleet of foot, with principal bassoon Christopher Millards beautiful (and seemingly breathless) solo wending its way through difficult intervals and syncopation. Zukermans graceful gestures and swaying on the podium urged balletic scurrying from the violins and violas, with agile flutes following suit. [Ķ]

Alexina Louies fantasy-like Infinite Sky with Birds opened the concert. Using vibraphone, tubular bells, pristine flute solos and brass highlights, it summoned up a grandiose entry into a mysterious, hallowed palace.

This concert was a fundraiser for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and a real treat for the local audience. Zukerman and the NACO gave a truly inspiring performance we wont soon forget.

Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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