Month: June 2014

Young Patrons Circle Highlights

Young Patrons Circle members get their photos taken backstage with Cirque artists during intermission, March 2014.

Young Patrons Circle members get their photos taken backstage with Cirque artists during intermission, March 2014.

The month of June is a time of transition for a lot of people – we graduate, travel the world and experience new things. As we prepare to kick off our Young Patrons Circle program for the 2014-15 season, starting with our Patio Party this Thursday, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from last year.

The 2013-14 season began with Great Romantics which featured  romantic genre gurus Brahms and Rachmaninoff. YPC members had the opportunity to meet guest musician and pianist Jon Kimura Parker at the Tapas Lounge after party.

Following The Four Seasons in November, members got a backstage tour and meet and greet with musicians.

Happy Hour with the HPO featured the HPO Brass and Hachey the MouthPEACE at the Baltimore House, March 2014.

Happy Hour with the HPO featured the HPO Brass and Hachey the MouthPEACE at the Baltimore House, March 2014.

The HPO  certainly became a circus at Cirque de la Symphonie where Young Patrsons Circle members had the chance to have their photos taken with our acrobats. They even stopped by the after party to chat with some of our young patrons!

There was Happy Hour with the HPO featuring Hachey the MouthPEACE at the Baltimore House where young professionals swung by after work for libations beat-boxing and brass duo.

Our first Music Director Candidate Gemma New introduced herself to the YPC crowd at the after party on her night as guest conductor at Pastorale.

Our composer in residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte and two Young Patrons Circle members at our Gala, May 2014.

Our composer in residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte and two Young Patrons Circle members at our Gala, May 2014.

The HPO’s first annual gala, An Evening with James Sommerville, was held in honour of departing Music Director Jamie. Guests enjoyed performances by the Darcy Hepner Jazz Orchestra, soloist Paula Arciniega, and the HPO Wind Trio.

We look forward to beginning the highlight reel for the our 2014-15 Young Patrons Circle program and meeting new friends along the way.  The summer kicks off with the hpoGO Summer Patio Party happening this Thursday, June 26 at Radius. Be sure to catch a live performance of HPO violinist and violist duet and an up close and personal look at their string instruments.




Celebrating Pride with Tchaikovsky


Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (photo from Americanblog)

As Hamilton and the GTA ramp up for World Pride this week, we thought what better time to revisit the life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The shock that homosexuality has been inherent throughout history is slowly dissipating with the help of modern history dramas that favour gay narratives, yet our society is still surprised to discover some of our most celebrated historical figures were gay. Nineteenth-century composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky surrounded himself with supportive friends and family members. These loved ones helped the composer navigate the social customs and sexual expectations of his era.  His brother Modest, who was also openly gay, was his closest confidant and later biographer. Tchaikovsky came from a small household and naturally wanted to meet his father’s expectations.  This meant confirming to the idealistic lifestyle of a prosperous young man by becoming well educated, attaining good social standing and finding a suitable wife. The School of Jurisprudence, an all-boy school, is where historians suspect the Russian composer began to realize his sexual inclinations. His classmate Aleksey Apukhtin later introduced him to the homosexual subculture of St. Petersburg society which further fostered his sexuality. He was undaunted by his sexual discoveries and believed he would have no issue leading a double life as a husband and gay lover.

Iosif Kotek with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1877

Iosif Kotek with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1877

While Tchaikovsky is labeled by historians as homosexual, he did fall in love with the famous opera diva Désirée Artôt.  This could have been a result of his father’s unwavering expectation that Tchaikovsky should marry. The couple became engaged – but Désirée unexpectedly eloped with a Spanish baritone. Tchaikovsky was crushed. Following the failed engagement, Tchaikovsky wrote letters to Modest that he had male interests at the time, one of which was his student Eduard Zak who is thought to have been the muse behind Romeo and Juliet. His student later committed suicide after suffering a series of tragic events. Tchaikovsky expressed his love and deep loss over the young man’s death in later writings. The hope of maintaining a platonic marriage while pursuing other male lovers proved to be an impossible plan. Tchaikovsky impulsively married Antonina Milyukova, a student who wrote many passionate love letters, but began to experience almost immediate regret towards the end of the wedding day. Within weeks, Tchaikovsky attempted to drown himself in the Moscow River and two months after the wedding, left his wife and withdrew to St. Petersburg. He wrote to his brother Anatoly that “there is nothing more futile than wanting to be anything other than what I am by nature.” However, this forced social conformation enhanced rather than hindered Tchaikovsky’s artistic achievements. During his recovery period in Switzerland following the disastrous marriage, he produced his Fourth Symphony and the opera Eugene Onegin –two of his most beloved works.

Matthew Bourne’s version of Tchaikovsky’s

Matthew Bourne’s version of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”

After this period, Tchaikovsky avoided the company of women and began a discreet relationship with his servant Alyosha Sofronov as well as on and off relationships with other men, such as violinist Iosif Kotek. There is much debate with regards to the composer’s relationship with his nephew Bob Davydov and the depths of intimacy they shared. Yet, novelist E.M. Forster wrote in his  love story Maurice that “Tchaikovsky had fallen in love with his own nephew, and dedicated his masterpiece [Symphonie Pathetique] to him.”  Sidenote: You can hear this symphony performed by the HPO in January 2015. The composer remained withdrawn from Russian society and traveled through Europe, hardly staying in one place for more than a few months, until his death. Tchaikovsky’s life story remains inspiring in the orchestral world and the LGBTQ community. In fact, Matthew Bourne addresses issues in relation to contemporary society through his modern version of Swan Lake in Tel Aviv. Check out a clip of the production here:

Father’s Day Classics for Dad

Is your Dad a classical music buff? Father’s Day is here and we’ve listed our top picks for the most robust, strong and powerful classical favourites that would make the perfect Father’s Day gift your Dad’s collection.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

In addition to its stormy introduction and heavy notation, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is one of the most important pieces in music history. The popular “dit, dit, dit, dah” is translated in Morse Code as the letter “V” and was referred to as “The Victory Symphony” during World War II. Beethoven composed his fifth symphony during a period where his hearing was growing worse, which can be discerned in the anger and fury found in the opening lines. It’s perhaps no surprise that Austria was at war with Napoleon by the time the piece was finished, making this work a symphony for European wars throughout history.

Hailed by The New York Times as a perfect recording, Carlos Kleiber’s conducting definitely delivers:

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries and The Flying Dutchman

Another piece absorbed by popular culture in war themed renditions, Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries is a popular work your dad would have come across in episodes of Superman or while watching the 1979 classic Apocalypse Now during the tragic helicopter assault.

Wagner’s initial impetus for his famous opera The Flying Dutchman was derived from Heinrich Heine’s retelling of the legend as well as the stormy sea voyage Wagner endured with his wife from Riga to London. Wagner breathes life into this tale of The Flying Dutchman, an eerie story about a cursed ghost ship which roams the seas unable to make land.

NPR recommends lending an ear to Georg Solti’s “Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen” and James Levine’s “Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer” for the best performances of Ride of the Valkyries and The Flying Dutchman:

Brahms’ Symphony No. 1

Echoing the same heavy notes and marching rhythm as Beethoven’s fifth symphony, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 is often referred to as “Beethoven’s Tenth” given the similarities in musical style between both composers. Brahms devoted at least 14 years to writing his first symphony, which may have been because he destroyed much of his earlier work as he was excessively critical of himself. He was also expected by critics and colleagues to continue Beethoven’s music legacy – a very tall order, indeed.

Ranked as the number one conductor for Brahms’ symphony recordings, Wilhelm Furtwängler’s “live performances and could hardly be described as perfect” according to The New York Times:

Celebrate Summer in Symphonic Style


13-IMG_5541-1Thursdays are tough around the office. The sun is shining, it’s warm outside and the weekend can’t come fast enough! Good thing summer is just around the corner. hpoGo is celebrating summer on the rooftop of Radius on Thursday, June 26 from 5 – 9pm.

Come on down after work and join the hpoGO Patio Party, and imbibe some specialty appetizers and drinks. You’ll enjoy some of Radius’ delicious and locally sourced menu items over Hamilton’s downtown rooftop vista.

Be sure to grab a drink and chat with some HPO musicians before and after their live performance in the evening. There will be a 20 minute violin and viola duet along with an up and close demonstration with the string instruments.

This is a great opportunity to meet new people, enjoy the weather and meet fellow arts supporters.

Get your tickets here.