Month: February 2014

Musicians Speak: Stoked for Sabre Dance!

The musicians themselves say why you need to be at Hamilton Place tomorrow night! HPO Concertmaster Stephen Sitarksi and Principal Percussionist Jean-Norman Iadeluca tell us about which pieces they’re excited to play at HPO’s Cirque de la Symphonie on Saturday, March 1st 2014.

Jean-Norman shares his memories about Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance on the Ed Sullivan Show:

Stephen Sitarski says the music is so exciting that you might forget to notice there are acrobats on stage:

Here’s Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance to tide you over until tomorrow night:


Bringing the Circus Home

Christine and Kosta

Christine and Kosta

After 10 years performing with the world’s most famous circus, Kosta Zakharenko and Christine Cadeau chose to leave Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam and pass on their knowledge of circus arts to the Hamilton area. The couple established Zacada Circus School eight years ago and currently has an enrollment of 250 students who travel all the way from Oakville to Fort Erie.


Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam”

The school specializes in training individuals for a career in the circus. Ten  former students of Zacada have been accepted into The National Circus School which is located across the street from Cirque du Soleil headquarters and scouts often visit the school searching for performers to join their extremely skilled and talented team.

Although the competition is steep when getting into Cirque du Soleil, Kosta reminds us that it’s only one of many large circuses in the world, and says, “The Moscow circus has 5000 performers…circus in Europe is a big tradition.” Kosta grew up in the Ukraine and began studying acrobatics at only six years old. He earned two silver medals in the worldwide championship of acrobatic gymnastics before joining Cirque du Soleil. He mentions that circus artists often coach or open their own business following their performance career, and says , “Of course I love coaching, it’s good to see the kids learn.”

Zacada kids

Zacada kids

The school is a dynamic space which not only allows students to train to be acrobats, aerialists and trapeze artists, but transforms into a theatre that can seat 160 people. Zacada has performances throughout the year which feature 24 professionals that train five to six times a week.

Zacada introduces children and adults to the physical benefits and fun of circus arts. Approximately 40,000 kids have experienced Zacada through school trips, birthday parties and programs. Zacada was voted as “the best birthday party” in Hamilton by Readers Choice. Zacada performers have made appearances at Supecrawl, Dundas Buskerfest, Burlington Children’s Festival, Winona Peach Festival and various corporate events.

Take a look at this performance act from Zacada’s trapeze artists:

Hanging around in Hamilton

While we prepare for Cirque de la Symphonie this Saturday, March 1, we thought we’d profile local gymnast and aspiring cirque performer Locksley MacLean and her quest for the big leagues…

locksley picLocksley MacLean always loved gymnastics, but never expected to be training to become a professional circus performer at the age of 21. Born outside of Ottawa, Locksley was enrolled in gymnastic classes when she was just three years old. When she was seven, she moved to Hamilton and continued gymnastics training until her knees suffered from overuse. Locksley maintained a high fitness level through synchronized swimming and enjoyed horseback riding on the side. She returned to gymnastics in her early teens and was introduced to aerials at 19.
“I try not to think about falling when I’m up there,” says Locksley. “I leave the fear on the ground, but it’s always at the back of my head and we’re trained to safely recover from slipping.” The physical toll on the body is high, especially when learning new moves. Locksley says she has calluses on her hands and is covered in bruises, but it’s worth it as a performer. She has performed with the Hamilton Arial Group at Supercrawl, The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Liuna Station and Hamilton’s Fringe Festival.

loclsl;ey pic 2Music impacts the aerialist’s physicality and tone of their performance. Locksley says, “I try to communicate the story in a song. I pick music I can move to and like my performances to be quirky and use music that allows me to move fast.” While Locksley enjoys slower music pieces, they require more concentration as she maintains more controlled movements.

Locksley is currently a level 3 coach through Gymnastics Ontario and coaches at Manjack’s Gymnastics in Mississauga. She decided that an ordinary office job didn’t align with her interests, and after high school, pursued a career as a gymnastics coach. Locksley is undergoing intensive training at the Toronto School of Circus Arts as she prepares for Cirque du Soleil auditions. She trains from 10:30am to 4:30pm five days a week and commutes from Hamilton. Although she has set her hopes high on working with Cirque du Soleil as a performer, she is also interested in their coaching positions. Working as a coach with Cirque du Soleil would unite her love of coaching and dream to work with the world’s most famous circus. “I love coaching because I want to inspire people to love this sport. It’s an opportunity to give back to those who have inspired me.”

Locksley hopes to travel as an aerialist and gymnast. If not through Cirque du Soleil, other circuses and cruise lines offer positions to performers and would provide Locksley with the opportunity to see the world. Following her career as a performer, Locksley thinks she would enjoy opening a circus club.

Take a look at Locksley’s rehearsal as she prepares for Hamilton’s Winterfest 2014:

It’s a Circus at the HPO!

In just a week, Hamilton Place is going to be transformed into a circus! Your HPO will be accompanied by acrobats and dancers performing to some the most celebrated pieces in classical music.

There’s lots of lush, playful, melodic and tuneful music on the bill that night, so we thought we’d share a little bit about the stories behind these fabulous pieces of music.  You’d be surprised with what you know from popular culture!

Antonin Dvořák – Carnival Overture, Opus 92 (1891)
Of this playful overture Dvorak wrote: “The lonely, contemplative wanderer reaches the city at nightfall, where a carnival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of people giving vent to their feelings in their songs and dances.” Composer pronunciation guide: DVORzhahk

Camille SaintSaëns – Danse Macabre Op 40 (1874)
Based on text by French poet Henri Cazalis, Dance Macabre illustrates the haunting and superstitious nature of Halloween. The piece opens with twelve harp strokes that illustrates the twelve strokes of midnight as skeletons of the dead are called forth to dance on their graves. Listen for the xylophone as it imitates the sounds of their rattling bones. Composer pronunciation guide: sahnSAWn

Johannes Brahms –Symphony No.3 In F Major, Op.90 3rd Movement (1883)
The third movement of this romantic symphony acts as a peaceful interlude between the energetic and emotional opening and closing movements. This slow and haunting dance inspired Brahms’ friend Clara Schumann to say of the piece, “What harmonious mood pervades the whole! All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart, each one a jewel.” This movement, as with the all the others, is most striking in its characteristic soft ending.

Leonard Bernstein –Candide Overture (1956)
As an opening to his high‐spirited operetta, Bernstein’s Candide Overture quickly became the most frequently performed orchestral piece by a 20th century American composer. This tuneful piece features bits from the operettas popular songs and the rollicking melody leads to a brash and climactic ending.

Georges Bizet –Les Toreadors from Carmen (1882)
Taken from the well‐known opera Carmen, this piece can frequently be heard in commercials and television shows. Les Toreadors, with its exciting rhythms and orchestration, is thrilling to listen to as it evokes the Spanish feel that Bizet set in the opera. Composer pronunciation guide: beeZAY

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky –Waltz from Sleeping Beauty Suite (1889)
Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Suite is an orchestral arrangement of the ballet that premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890. The public’s cool opinion of the piece left Tchaikovsky heartbroken, and it wasn’t until a year later that audiences became receptive to his work. The familiar Waltz can be heard in the classic Disney film of the same name.

Emmanuel Chabrier – España (1883)
Based on the folk music that inspired him after a visit to Spain, España is the best known piece by this French Romantic composer. Listen for the flamenco rhythms and melodies that evoke a sultry Spanish summer night.

Richard Wagner – Ride Of The Valkyries from Die Walkure (1856)
Together with the Bridal Chorus from his opera Lohengrin, Ride of the Valkyries from the opera Die Walkure is Wagner’s most famous piece of music and arguably the most well known in popular culture, having been featured in the animated short What’s Opera, Doc? and Oliver Stone’s Apocalypse Now. In Norse mythology, a “valkyrie” is a female figure who decides which soldiers live and die in battle. Listen to how the stirring strings and woodwinds accompany the brass instruments as they evoke the ominous march into battle. Composer pronunciation guide: VAHGner

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Dance of the Cygnets from Swan Lake (1895)
The 1895 ballet Swan Lake told the story of a young prince who falls in love with an enchanted swan maiden who reveals herself to be a princess and daughter of an evil sorcerer. The famous Dance of the Cygnets was choreographed to imitate the way young swans huddle and move together for protection.

Mikhail Glinka – Overture from Ruslan and Ludmila (1842)
This sparkling overture, based on themes of the Russian opera Ruslan and Ludmila, depicts the heroic, magical and fantastical nature of the opera itself. Of his composition, Glinka recalled a wedding he recently attended at Russian court and later wrote, “I was up in the balcony, and the clattering of knives, forks and plates made such an impression on me that I had the idea to imitate them in the prelude to Ruslan. I later did so, with fair success.”

Nikolai RimskyKorsakov – Dance of the Clowns from The Snow Maiden (1882)
Taken from his opera The Snow Maiden, Dance of the Clowns takes place in the third act of the opera as characters are dancing and singing in the forest in celebration of the spring. This fast‐paced and buoyant piece is a well‐known and fantastic showpiece for any orchestra audience.

Aram Khachaturian – Sabre Dance from Gayane (1942)
Sabre Dance, from the ballet Gayane, uses Armenian folk tunes and a fast, pulsating rhythm to establish the joy and energy of a wedding celebration between the ballet’s two characters. This piece is Khachaturian’s most famous and has been used in numerous films and television shows.

Bedřich Smetana – Dance of the Comedians from The Bartered Bride (1866)
With his comic opera The Bartered Bride, Czech composer Bedřich Smetana tried to establish a truly Czech operatic genre. Dance of the Comedians takes place in the third act and introduces the strolling characters of a travelling circus. It is based on the skočná, a fast Slavic folk‐tune usually written in 2/4 metre. Composer pronunciation guide: BEDzheekh SMEHtana

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Waltz from Swan Lake (1895)
This beautiful and opulent waltz takes place in the first act of Swan Lake as the Prince’s birthday festivities begin and ladies and gentlemen arrive in the Royal Court. Swan Lake features the romantic, innocent and lush music that makes it one of the most frequently performed ballets in the world.

The Family That Plays Together Stays Together

It’s no secret that music brings families closer together. The Jackson 5 sang some groovy Motown tunes, the Trapp family harmonized their way to Switzerland and the Marleys continue to celebrate as the “first family” of reggae. Tom Wilson of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and Lee Harvey Osmond shared his love of rock music with his son Thompson Wilson of Hamilton’s Harlan Pepper, and they often play at the same concerts together.

Music is something family members can have in common with one another because it spans across generations. Going to a concert, listening to an album or teaching each other how to play an instrument are experiences which allow families to set aside cell phones and laptops in order to share mutual interests and special moments together.

HPO musicians Melanie Eyers and Rob Wolanski reflect on how they celebrate music with their families.

IMG_5365_2HPO’s second bassoonist, Melanie Eyers, talks about how she enjoys teaching her daughter Allison to play piano:

“I feel so lucky that my daughter Allison, who will turn six in March, has her own unique love of music.  I like to think that it started in the womb during our HPO rehearsals. I started teaching piano lessons to Allison in the fall.  Before Allison came along, I had 23 students in my private piano studio,  and 10 years of teaching experience.  I was very reluctant to be Allison’s teacher, since I am first and  foremost her parent.  I was not sure there would be the necessary professional distance and respect.  Now, six months later, it has been a wonderful experience and I am so happy that she is keen to learn and  enjoys the lessons.  I am so proud that she has learned the classics such as ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘The Muffin  Man,’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle.’ She bought a guitar with birthday money and I like to think she will be on Canadian Idol someday…

My husband brought Allison to an HPO dress rehearsal recently, to hear Orion Weiss play a Mozart piano concerto.  I was so excited for her to hear me and my friends, since she had no idea what I actually do when I ‘go to work.’  She sat quietly with Daddy for almost an hour, with her craft to keep her busy, but my husband said that she ‘looked up at all the right moments’ and was mesmerized by the piano playing.”

HPO-0383Rob Wolanski, HPO’s principal bass player, discusses his 3 year old daughter’s evolving interest in music:

“She is constantly asking for me or my wife to sing to her and in the past few months she has really started singing along quite a bit. I can tell she will be really musical. Her rhythm while singing is excellent  –she never races ahead and always waits exactly the right length of time to sing the next line if there are  rests in the vocal melody.

As a listener, she has already figured out the controls on our CD player and stereo system.

She became quite enchanted with the complete Nutcracker ballet recording and has been listening to large sections of it repeatedly. She will listen to the whole thing but she especially likes the Russian Dance (Trepak) and Polichinelles. She will put those on and dance madly to them.

We often will listen to music together at mealtime and she has become a huge fan of the 60s folk/blues singer Fred Neil who I just randomly put on one day. I’m not very familiar with his work especially so we are discovering him together.”

Here’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Fred Neil:

Don’t Fiddle With My Heart

Ever have the feeling you’ve said something that didn’t come out right?

“I love you” is probably one of the most difficult things to say in the English language. Feelings of love often run deeper than words can express and when the moment comes to say it, no matter what, you can’t always be certain your beloved feels the same. Their reaction can impact you in a number of emotional ways: the experience can be elating, devastating, or less climatic than you hoped. Even when confronting the uncertainty of love, the expression may still feel incomplete. Hans Christian Anderson reminds us that “when words fail, music speaks.”

Relationships are much more socially versatile in the present compared to the lives and times of classical composers. In particular, societal pressure and social constraints provided Chopin and Wager with difficulty when pursuing their love interests. It seems that some classical legends either opted for an affair or married more than once. Here is a modest sampling of the most steamy and romantic relationships of some adored classical composers.

Frédéric Chopin & George Sand

chopin roundAmantine Aurore Dupin

Frédéric Chopin experienced a prominent yet complicated attraction to Amantine Aurore Dupin,  otherwise known as George Sand, a French novelist and woman who went both against the grain in literature and fashion. Initially, Chopin was put off by Sand’s masculine appearance; however the two became lovers after Chopin’s prospective engagement fell through. Sand was 6 years Chopin’s senior and the couple experienced societal resistance to their  relationship within the first years of living together in Spain. They eventually settled into adjacent apartments in Square d’Orléans, Paris. Chopin’s health continued to deteriorate along with the relationship; the couple separated after 10 years as Sand grew tired of caring for Chopin.

Chopin’s Nocturnes, Op. 62 remains one of his most well known and romantic works:

Wolfgang Amadeus & Constanze Mozart

The film Amadeus portrayed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Constanze’s marriage as a tumultuous journey for the pair. Mozart began courting Constanze while boarding at her family’s home. It became obvious to Constanze’s mother that Mozart was very fond of her daughter and swiftly dismissed him from the family nest. Although their courtship continued, it was disrupted when Mozart learned Constanze permitted another young man to measure her calves in a parlor game. Mozart also encountered difficulties in securing his father’s blessing for the couple to marry. Despite protests and threats from both their families, Mozart and Constanze wed on August 4, 1782. They had 6 children, but only 2 survived. Mozart accumulated large amounts of debt throughout the marriage, which he initially kept from Constanze; however, she assumed control of household expenses after discovering their ongoing financial crisis. They remained together until Mozart’s death in 1791 at the age of 35.

One of Mozart’s many romantic pieces includes Piano Concerto No. 21:

Richard & Cosima Wagner

Perhaps one of the most notable affairs among classical composers was between Richard and Cosima Wagner. Daughter of Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt, Cosima caught Richard’s eye during a performance in Leipzig while sharing conducting duties with her husband, Hans von Bülow. Following the performance, Richard wrote: “I felt utterly transported by the sight of Cosima…she appeared to me as if stepping from another world.” While Von Bülow was rehearsing, Richard and Cosima shared a long cab ride around Berlin where they professed their love for one another. Despite Von Bülow’s adoration for Wagner and knowledge of the affair, Cosima and Richard had three children while Cosima remained married. Von Bülow reluctantly granted a divorce to Cosima, which allowed her to marry Richard on August 25, 1870.

Wagner composed Siegfried Idyll for Cosima as a birthday present celebrating the birth of their second son Siegfried:

Ethel Smyth & Emmeline Pankhurst
Ethel SmuthEmmeline-Pankhurst

Esteemed British composer Ethel Smyth was the only notable female composer of her time and an active feminist who followed the leadership of suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst. Ethel fell in love with Emmeline while fighting for the women’s vote. The pair protested by throwing rocks at the windows of politicians on 10 Downing Street and were subsequently arrested together. They were placed in adjoining cells where the prison matron allowed Ethel and Emmeline to take “tea” together.

Ethel’s most regarded work remains The March of the Women which was adopted by suffragists throughout London and Holloway Prison where Ethel conducted fellow inmates with a toothbrush:

Welcome to the HPO’s Blog

“Music Lives Here.”  It’s true isn’t it?  Hamilton is where great people and great music collide.  The HPO is proud to call itself Hamilton’s professional symphony and we’re excited to launch our new blog “Music Lives Here” to share the stories and photos you don’t get to see on our website.  
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We’ll be bringing you stories about your HPO musicians, your music and your community, and talking about what makes the orchestral experience exciting and relevant today.