Schumann & Songwriters

I am very honoured to be hosting a Schumann & Songwriters series at the National Arts Centre this and next week!

Experience the Dazzling Virtuosity of Beethoven and Schumann at the NAC Orchestra’s Festival 
OTTAWA, 6 October, 2016 — From October 12 to 20, join Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra, and a roster of world-renowned pianists, as they interpret the expressive and timeless masterpieces of Robert Schumann and Ludwig van Beethoven. 
The two-week Festival explores superb expressions of Romanticism in the complete collection of Schumann’s Symphonies and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos. The Orchestra’s concerts are complemented by lively pre-concert conversations with Alexander Shelley, artists and journalists, as well as chamber music and and a post-concert look at Schumann’s passionate lieder. 
“From Schumann’s Symphonies, expect fresh interpretations with light brushstrokes, vivid sound palettes, and sharp contrasts. From Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, expect dazzling virtuosity and passion, as each soloist brings a fresh approach,” says Music Director, Alexander Shelley. 
“Schumann picked up Beethoven’s legendary symphonic mantel and made it his own, adding strains of his trademark lyricism, softening Ludwig’s Beethoven’s hammer blows with his singing romanticism and flights of poetic fantasy,” He adds. 
On October 12, the Festival begins with Canada’s beloved pianist Angela Hewitt, who will interpret the work of a young Beethoven. In this performance of his First Piano Concerto, his combined respect for musical tradition and irrepressible flair for innovation will be unmistakable. 
The exploration of young Beethoven continues on October 13, with a fresh interpretation of his work by renowned American pianist Jonathan Biss. This concert also features Schumann’s Symphony No.2. Initial sketches were written in December 1845, but due to Schumann’s ailing health and depression, he was only able to complete the work in October 1846. In the face of his failing health, the uplifting tone of this work can be seen as a Beethoven-like triumph over fate and pessimism. 
Experience intimate chamber music on Saturday, October 15, at the National Gallery of Canada, as pianist Angela Hewitt joins NAC Orchestra concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki and others to perform Beethoven, and both Clara and Robert Schumann. 
Conrad Tao, at only 22 years old, is highly regarded worldwide as a pianist and composer. He returns to Southam Hall stage on October 16 to perform a double-header: Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto and Schumann’s only Piano Concerto. This concert explores the richness of the piano and the sway it held over both Beethoven and Schumann, who were each piano virtuosos in their own right. 
The concert on October 19 with soloist Saleem Ashkar, sheds light on the tumultuous emotions experienced by both composers. In his later life, Beethoven struggled with deafness, and Schumann’s health continued to ail him and he suffered with bouts of depression. The two masterpieces on this program, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Schumann’s Symphony No.3, also known as the “Rhenish”, capture times of deep emotional crisis where the composers were able to transcend their circumstances to express emotions shared by us all. 
Finally, our Festival comes to a close on October 20, with the Rudolf Buchbinder, makes his debut with our Orchestra. The Austrian pianist and scholar celebrates his 70th birthday this year, and his interpretations of the works of Beethoven are the stuff of legend. This program of Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto, with its iconic solo piano opening chords, paired with Schumann’s final symphony, gives voice to the individual, being intensely subjective and driven by emotion and intuition.   
Don’t miss these exceptional concerts! Join us for our engaging pre-concert talks with some of our featured soloists, who will delve deeper into these two extraordinary composers. 
After each concert starting at 10 p.m. we will hold late night, post-concert music salons, and featuring brilliant Canadian singer-songwriters exploring Schumann’s lieder and its connection to song writing today. 
Schumann and the Songwriters 
Song writing has been with us for millennia, but Robert Schumann will always stand out as an original voice and unique craftsman.  He wrote about the Romantic ideals of nature, love, and loss– universal topics which, in the right hands, become intimate and personal, no matter what century.  Canadian songwriters react to interpretations of Schumann’s lieder and take us through their own creative process.  With appearances by soprano Donna Brown, baritone Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure, and acclaimed jazz and indie-rock artists including Emilie-Claire Barlow, Jay Malinowski (formerly of Bedouin Soundclash), Charlotte Cardin, and Amanda Tosoff and Felicity Williams. 
Hosted by Ottawa Jazz Fest’s Petr Cancura, with special guest Alexander Shelley. 
Where: The Backstage & Le Salon 
When: 10 pm 
$10 ticket in advance or at the door. 
Cash bar available. 
October 12 – Witness Montreal’s Charlotte Cardin take to the NAC’s The Backstage to showcase her smoky, billowing voice and sleek minimalist arrangements. Find out why her jazzy R & B style is so deeply intoxicating while she discusses themes of love in her songwriting. Charlotte Cardin and Petr Cancura will be joined by soprano Donna Brown and pianist Frédéric Lacroix performing Schumann’s most beautiful love songs. 
October 13 – Amanda Tosoff & Felicity Williams 
Amanda Tosoff is a Toronto based pianist, composer, and bandleader who has established herself as one of the most exciting new talents on the Canadian jazz scene. Tosoff takes an adventurous leap beyond the confines of conventional jazz. Notable vocalist Felicity Williams (of such bands as Broken Social Scene, and Bahamas) accompanies Tosoff for an eclectic performance that incorporates elements of pop, art song, classical, folk and jazz. Petr Cancura will lead the duo in a discussion about the relationship between pianist and performer, and how the music illustrates text or emotion. Soprano Donna Brown and pianist Frédéric Lacroix will demonstrate this connection through Schumann lieder. 
October 19 – Emilie-Claire Barlow 
Two-time JUNO award-winning singer and arranger Emilie-Claire Barlow returns to the NAC this time for an intimate performance at The Backstage. Barlow has captured a loyal following worldwide, in part due to her sensitive reading of Jazz standards, her astonishing pitch and the vulnerability and warmth she brings to her music. Together with Petr Cancura, she will explore the stories behind the songs. Baritone Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and pianist Frédéric Lacroix will perform some of Schumann’s most famous songs, written in the year he married Clara Wieck. 
October 20 – Jay Malinowski 
Join front man for the JUNO award-winning Bedouin Soundclash, Jay Malinowski for an evening featuring the best of the singer-songwriter’s solo work in the NAC’s Le Salon. Malinowski released his first solo album, Bright Lights & Bruises, in 2010 to great acclaim. He is also an accomplished author, visual artist and co-founder of Pirates Blend Records. Together with Petr Cancura, Malinowski will discuss the idea and effect of lost love in song-writing. Schumann wrote many songs which explore this theme which baritone Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and pianist Frédéric Lacroix will perform.