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Borealis Beat

A glimpse into the mind of our Artistic Director as she shares her knowledge and expertise on our music selections, the composers, artists, concerts, and more

A Word from the Artistic Director – Summer 2021

It is my great pleasure to reveal to you our exciting plans for our upcoming 43rd Consortium Aurora Borealis season 2021-2022, appropriately entitled “The Magic Returns!” We have missed you, but you have never been far from our thoughts!

We are thrilled that we will at last be able to present you with more magnificent music-making starting in September, after the lengthy silence which was regrettably imposed on all of us by the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that you have remained safe and healthy, as have I, and that you are ready to welcome us back into your lives!

I have taken particular joy in crafting seven concert programmes of great music for you, to be performed by fabulous musicians. Ours will be a hybrid season, commencing cautiously with four virtual concerts, which will bring our music directly into your homes, and then moving carefully to live performances, with safety measures in place, in the new year. We can’t wait to see you all again, and fervently hope that you will choose to join with us in what promises to be a most rewarding and uplifting season! A huge vote of thanks goes to the very hard-working Board of Directors, who labour tirelessly on many aspects of Consortium, offering guidance and wisdom too.

In times like this we really need to let our spirits be uplifted through listening to music, letting its strains boost our mood and bring us joy! We will be energized by its power to heal and inspire as we draw near to the time that we will finally be able to gather together!

Our season’s offerings will be marked by great variety, as usual. Our opening concert, “Rhapsodic Romanticism”, will be shared by two of our finest local musicians. Distinguished piano soloist Evgeny Chugunov will perform two impassioned Rhapsodies by Brahms and six vignettes from Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons (August to December). Cellist Peter Cosbey will join him in soulful music for cello and piano by Ernest Bloch (“Three Scenes from Jewish Life: Prayer, Supplication, and Jewish Song”) and by Russian composer Anton Arensky. In selecting the Bloch cello solos, I had in mind that they well reflected the mood which prevailed during the pandemic, being rather introspective and sorrowful. More of Arensky’s music will be heard in our first live concert later this season. Two Hungarian Dances by Brahms, arranged for cello and piano, provide a rousing finale!

We are fortunate to be recording the first two concerts on the fine nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano at McNulty Recital Hall at the Department of Music, Lakehead University, for which we thank them! This instrument is perfect for the repertoire to be heard. In October, we look forward to hearing Mozart’s melodiously charming “Kegelstatt” Trio, selections from Max Bruch’s warmly lyrical Eight Pieces, Op. 83, and an arrangement of a Piazzolla Tango by our own Patrick Horn, which will make up the enticing programme of chamber music for the unusual combination of clarinet, viola and piano. Performing are E-Chen Hsu, Patrick Horn, and Mariko Kamachi Cosbey.

The whole musical world joined together in 2020 to celebrate the 250th birthday of the great Ludwig von Beethoven, as also did Consortium, with Evgeny Chugunov performing a movement from one of the master’s piano sonatas, which we aired virtually on the actual day of his birthday. We had also intended to present a live performance of a Beethoven chamber work that year, but COVID-19 made that impossible. However, we are now making up for that by offering you a virtual performance in November of Beethoven’s String Trio Op. 3 in E-flat major from 1795. Enter into the gracious atmosphere of Vienna as Katie Stevens, Patrick Horn, and Peter Cosbey delight us also with a Schubert String Trio from 1816, which interestingly happens to have been composed the same year on which the reconstruction of Fort William Historical Park was based!

We could not fail to include a concert from our favourite period of music, and so we are delighted to present “Baroque Bliss” on December 7th, with eighteenth-century violin duos by Vivaldi, Leclair, and Telemann. Katie Stevens (TBSO’s Assistant Concertmaster) returns, and we are pleased to welcome the new Principal Second Violinist, who will join her. As a special treat, Peter Cosbey will perform J. S. Bach’s Suite No. 2 in D minor for unaccompanied cello.

And now for a sneak peek at the three live concerts, to be performed once it is safe to do so, at yet to be determined dates. I mentioned earlier how apt “The Magic Returns” is as the title of our upcoming season. Many of you will remember violinist Jeremy Bell’s dazzling “Magic and Fire” concert from November 30, 2019. Well, we are thrilled to inform you that long-time Consortium favourite Jeremy will be back not once, but twice in the new year to provide yet more magic, appearing both with the Penderecki String Quartet later in the season and also with pianist Evgeny Chugunov and cellist Marc Palmquist in our first live concert of 2022, “Romantic Piano Trios.”

Unbridled Romanticism will once more raise its head, as Bell and colleagues perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 3 in G minor and Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, with heart on sleeve! The Penderecki String Quartet has planned to perform Haydn’s Op. 20, No. 5, and will then move from Classicism into Romanticism with Dvořák’s final string quartet (No. 14), his magnificent Op.105. One more live concert remains to be fitted into the season where convenient, and the plan for that is to have Doris Dungan, Colleen Kennedy, Katie Stevens, Patrick Horn, and Peter Cosbey perform “Quintessential Quintets” by J.S. Bach’s youngest son Johann Christian Bach, plus a flute quartet and an oboe quartet, making use of all the instruments at our disposal.

So I hope I have made the season sound appealing! A word or two about virtual concerts, and I have been watching a great many of them here at home in Toronto. Do try to watch them on your largest screen, even with headphones if you desire better sound. But what I really appreciate is that I can watch them more than once, interrupt them, return, replay sections of interest, and get to see the performers up more closely than I would at a live concert. So there are pluses to both types of experiences!

I do hope you like what I have put together and always welcome your feedback. I have really missed you! I wanted to include a fairly recent photo of me to demonstrate that I am alive, well and relaxed here at home in Toronto! I encourage you to join our audience, be it virtual or live, and to tell your friends as well, since tickets will be available to all events, online and otherwise.

Finally, since we will have gone a very long time without box office, concert sponsors, and government grants, and our patron donations have dwindled as a result of our inactivity, we would be so very appreciative of any support you might wish to give us, if you were so inclined. We issue income tax receipts to donors, since we are a non-profit, federally-registered charitable organization. We continue to incur expenses, and it would also really help us with our future ambitious plans. We have already engaged the Rolston String Quartet to return to us on September 24, 2022, and the Gryphon Trio the year after that!

I enjoyed this opportunity to connect with you, and invite you to spread our exciting news to others! We thank you most sincerely for keeping Consortium Aurora Borealis in your hearts and for your faithful support! Stay safe and well, and please know that our music will live on!

Warmest wishes,
Elizabeth

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