HPO Musicians

2 concerts next season that you can’t miss

…according to these musicians.

There are so many fantastic works and exciting programs to pick from in this upcoming 2014-15 Season, but here are the top two concerts in which bassoonist Melanie Eyers and horn player Neil Spaulding are most excited to perform.

IMG_5365_2Melanie Eyers

“I am looking forward to Sci-Fi Spectacular on March 21 because I get a huge thrill performing music from the movies, and I have the best seat in the house to appreciate our amazingly dedicated and consummately professional HPO Brass section (they make it sound so easy!). Also, I am a lifelong fan of Star Trek and Star Wars, and I am looking forward to working with the wonderfully talented Larry Larson again.”

Sci-Fi Spectacular is happening on March 21 featuring guest conductor David Martin and Larry Larson.


MHP_7663Neil Spaulding

“I’m looking forward to playing Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet because it is such incredibly beautiful, passionate and moving music. It really is one of the great pieces of art of the last hundred years!”

The program for Romeo and Juliet on February 21 includes a number of works devoted to the infamous Shakespeare play, including ones by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Berlioz.



Since it’s Neil’s favourite piece next season, take a look at Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Suite 1:


Behind the Scenes: What does it take to plan a season?

IMG_1811What does it take to put together an orchestra’s season? Lots of time, knowledge, forethought and planning—two years worth of planning, to be exact.

Sometimes it might seem that planning a season of orchestral music would be easy—you just put together some of the greatest music in history into a year of performances and there you have it! …but there’s a bit more to it.

Our Artistic Advisory Committee, composed of musicians and administrators, meets regularly throughout the year to talk about programming the best works for our audience in future years. To arrive at the best program, the committee first puts together a skeleton framework that consists of repertoire we feel the audience will most enjoy or a specific soloist or conductor we would like to highlight. From there the jigsaw puzzle begins as the HPO works with artist managers and musicians to ensure factors like schedule availability, repertoire demands, finances and concert programming fit into a coherent vision of a season for our audience.

This long view planning cycle allows us to program exciting and dynamic concerts that feature the best of our HPO musicians and guest artists that we can offer our patrons. This summer, we’re firming up the 2015-16 season. While we might have the 2016-17 Season almost complete, we’re choosing to leave it a bit looser in anticipation of our Music Director!

35 pictures that sum up a pretty fantastic 2013-14 Season!

The 2013-14 season was a special year for the HPO. We hosted the circus, mixed beatboxing with classical music and said farewell to Maestro James Sommerville to name a few memorable moments…but before we launch into a thrilling new concert season, take a look back at some of these amazing memories from last year.


Owen Pallett: Reinterpreting the Orchestral Genre

OWEN PALLETTCongratulations to Owen Pallett for making the shortlist for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize! Pallett seems to be all over the headlines these days. Who knew a young University of Toronto graduate from Mississauga could experience such heights of international orchestral fame?

With one Polaris Prize under his belt from the 2006 album He Poos Clouds, Pallett has chosen an unconventional career for a modern classical composer and dived head first into vast regions unknown to the pop and video game music worlds. In turn, he’s brought new waves of modern orchestration to the centre of the public stage.

Pallett devoted a large portion of his career to writing music inspired by video games. Under the pseudonym “Final Fantasy,” Pallett wrote the song “An Arrow in the Side of Final Fantasy” which integrates the familiar tune from “Super Mario 2: 6 Golden Coins.” He also composed a tribute album entitled Heartland to the famous video game series Final Fantasy. You can hear HPO’s trumpet lead Mike Fedyshyn and David Pell principal trombone this album.

Pallett rehearsing his "Violin Concerto" for the TSO's New Creation Festival

Pallett rehearsing his “Violin Concerto” for the TSO’s New Creations Festival

Pallett’s chamber/pop album He Poos Clouds won the 2006 Polaris Music Prize and references the eight schools of magic in the fantasy and role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. He kindly donated winnings to bands he deemed deserving of a monetary leg up in the music business. HPO principal second violinist Bethany Bergman was also in the orchestra ensemble for Pallett’s album.

Indie/rock band Arcade Fire have also turned their eyes toward Pallett’s talent as he provides the band’s string arrangements. He’s even played violin with the Grammy winning group. In addition, his work with Arcade Fire on “The Moon Song” for the film Her garnered an Oscar nomination at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Arctic Monkeys’ front-man Alex Turner and The Rascals’ Miles Kane had Pallett create the orchestration and conduct the London Metropolitan Orchestra for their supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets. He also contributed remixes for bands Stars, Grizzly Bears and Death from Above 1979.

Pallett still composes for large orchestras, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra and London Barbican commissioned his Violin Concerto as part of TSO’s week long 2013 New Creations Festival. He also provided a dynamic arrangement of Basia Bulat’s music that that highlighted the best of our very own orchestra. Bulat was also shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year.

Side-note: check out Owen Pallett’s arrangement of Basia Bulat’s music here:

Pallett isn’t the only one doing exciting duos with indie groups! We’ve had unique collaborations with C.R. Avery and Hachey the MouthPEACE over the years and are thrilled to continue to perform with independent local artists like Thought Beneath Film at Supercrawl in September.

Take a look back at our performance with C.R. Avery at Supercrawl in 2012:

Here’s a look at Owen Pallett’s performance of “He Poos Clouds” with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra:

owen pallett video

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.



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.


Sibelius, Shakespeare and The Tempest

How does one angry exiled duke stranded on an island with his beautiful daughter and deformed servant get revenge? A very big storm.

Shakespeare and Sibelius’ works combined, both titled The Tempest, illustrate the isolation of the sea in relation to the corruption traditional society of Milan.

"Miranda - The Tempest" by John William Waterhouse

“Miranda – The Tempest” by John William Waterhouse

The play The Tempest is set on a remote island where the rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero, has been stranded with his daughter Miranda on an island by his brother Antonio. Claiming father and daughter were lost at sea, Prospero’s jealous brother Antonio usurps his dukedom. Equipped with food and his precious sorcery books by a faithful servant, Prospero spends years mastering both his powers and the inhabitants on the island.

Through divine intelligence, Prospero sees that Antonio will be sailing close to the island and conjures up a furious tempest to overturn the ship and bring its survivors to the island. This will provide the setting in which Prospero will watch over, manipulate and work his way back to his rightful place as Duke of Milan.

Young composer Jean Sibelius

Young composer Jean Sibelius

The island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest represents the utopic world Prospero has built in place of Milan. Prospero, a godlike character in the play, maintains a manipulative hand in the characters’ lives, as he separates the shipmates from one another while they wander the island. The distance the sea creates between society and the island remains advantageous to Prospero as it provides a disconnect in communication between characters and renders prestigious name titles meaningless. In this vulnerable state, Prospero casts strategic spells and tricks using harpies, mythical food and deep sleeps to confront characters with their inherent folly.

Through the trials Prospero imposes on his islanders, every character in the play experiences a rebirth as they overcome personal corruption and return to Milan renewed. Even Prospero creates a news life for himself as he breaks his staff and drowns his book of spells before assuming the role of Duke of Milan.

Jean Sibelius’ suite The Tempest is an incidental piece which acts as background music in various stage adaptations of Shakespeare’s play. The suite paints a visual picture where each movement directly compliments each plot point. This suite differs from programmatic orchestral pieces, which symphonies often perform, as they invite audiences to picture a story or concept in their imaginations.

Sibelius’ piece enriches Shakespeare’s play through its evocative movements, from Prospero’s chaotic storm to the play’s concluding jovial court dance.

Can you hear the scene changes in Sibelius’ suite?