News & Updates
Quinte Symphony and Orchestra Kingston combined forces at Bridge St. United for a spectacular end to the regular concert season. On hand was Rick Choma, son of the late Stephen Choma, Quinte Symphony's founding conductor. Rick shared with the audience some early memories of his Dad conducting the orchestra and then assisted with the presentation of the Stephen Choma award to two winners this year. The two high school musicians who received the award for their dedication to the orchestra over the course of the current season were Tristan Gazaille (oboe) and Ben Reed (percussion). Congratulations!
If applause signifies a happy audience, Sunday afternoon’s audience for the Quinte Symphony concert was truly happy.
The concert ran a bit later than expected, mainly because of loud and prolonged applause after each number, but especially the Grieg Piano Concerto and Luke Bell’s stunning performance. It even earned an unscheduled comment by conductor Dan Tremblay.
“Luke Bell is fantastic,” he proclaimed as the two came on for a second bow following the performance.
Bell, a native Bellevillian and chlld prodigy pianist, noted in an advance interview the concerto was an “average” challenge technically for most popular concertos, but added it takes “stamina and drama.”
Bell had plenty of both as the audience bounced to its feet for a long and enthusiastic ovation at the close of a breathtaking performance by both Bell and the orchestra.
But the beloved Grieg concerto was not the only wow factor in the concert. It opened with the three-movement Karelia Suite by renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The tone poem portrayed scenic highlights of an area of Finland called Karelia which was one of the composer’s favourite haunts. Lots of work for the horns in the opening movement and opportunities for lovely solos elsewhere, in short, it was simply delightful.
In a similar mode as concert music was Bedrich Smetana’s, “Vltava, The Moldau,” portraying the key Moldau River in Czechslovakia, which inspired this work. A challenging flute duet opened this work, representing the bubbling mountain streams, the source of the great river, later bringing on hunting horns through a forested area, then open meadows and a dainty peasant wedding dance. Horns and woodwinds are again active as water nymphs dance by moonlight in the main course of the river before it hits stormy rapids, cleverly portrayed by various instruments, swelling into a mighty river before it enters the sea triumphantly with full blown orchestration. This work too, an acknowledged concert favourite, generated much applause before the intermission.
Luke Bell took the piano bench as Tremblay took the conductor’s stand to open the second half. An outburst of descending chords opened this evergreen concerto, one of the most popular in the concerto repertoire. From there on it was pure musical magic, with all instruments in the orchestra getting a fair break to shine along with the pianist — woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion. Sublime melodies mingled with thunderous passages, while Bell’s fingers flew around the keyboard of the grand piano, especially during the main and several smaller cadenzas. It took awhile for applause to settle down before Tremblay again took the stand for the final work, another case of fireworks in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Festival Overture.”
This work showed off the composer’s fame for instrumentation, with input from all sections of the orchestra, some outstanding solos by David Shewchuck, concert master and plenty of percussion. While many of the themes are chant-based, celebrating the solemnity of this most important Christian festival, there are also portrayals of some of the raucous pagan festivities which are also associated with that season. Another piece of ear candy for a well-sated audience which almost hated to go home.
This concert was generously sponsored by Boston Pizza with businessman of that company, Mayor Mitch Panciuk, in the audience, along with Councillor Chris Malette.
The symphony’s next concert “Grand Finale” is Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Bridge Street Church. This will be a combination of Quinte Symphony and Orchestra Kingston in a program of all-time orchestral favourites.
Notes: Perhaps more parents and grandparents can be encouraged to bring children to future concerts. Admission for children is free and seeing the various musicians at work can often keep them involved. One might also hope that Luke Bell will perform again with our local orchestra.
Published on: March 7, 2019 | Last Updated: March 7, 2019 11:23 AM EST
The second annual Speakeasy, a 1920’s themed gala for Quinte Symphony, was another huge success, raising several thousand dollars for the financially beleaguered orchestra.
Held in The Belleville Club Feb. 23, the event drew a capacity crowd of around 80, plus a cluster of volunteers and several musical groups who spelled each other off with period music. Many of the guests attended in Roaring Twenties costumes, with prizes awarded for best costumed man and woman.
Silent auction items included original paintings, a violin, craft items and gift certificates and drew lively bidding. Also, some 10 items were up for live auction, including a $750 voucher for a Canadian hotel stay, donated by Williams Hotels. Those items too drew lively bidding.
At one point, orchestra president Debbie Shaw announced a donation of $500 if it could be matched. That, too, drew quick support, plus some other donations.
The menu included a wide range of finger foods, from deluxe sandwiches to meat balls and chicken wings plus sweet treats.
The mini-gala event, with tickets at just $25, is expected to be repeated next year.
Image: Jack Evans/For The Intelligencer Conductor Dan Tremblay, centre, goes on stage to congratulate “Messiah” soloists (left to right) soprano Larissa Koniuk, mezzo soprano Stephanie Tritchew, tenor Graham Thomson and bass baritone, Geoffrey Sirett. Members of the Belleville Choral Society are in the background.
DAVE VACHON PHOTOS/STAFF REPORTER
It was a packed house at the National Air Force Museum in Quinte West, Sunday afternoon, for Quinte Symphony’s 4th Annual Tribute To The Brave with the 8 Wing Concert Band and 8 Wing Pipes & Drums.