KW & Beyond
by Irena Syrokomla
Signature Series– K-W Symphony at Centre in the Square
There is a breath of fresh air in Kitchener and the Region this Fall – a new music conductor for the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: Edwin Outwater; a new artistic director at Theatre & Company: Daryl Cloran; and a new artistic director at Waterloo Entertainment Centre: Allison Grant. All are young, full of enthusiasm, and planning for the future with new programs and artistic profiles. We will see how it develops and where will it take us!
K-W Symphony maestro’s new ideas are already visible – the names of the concert series have been changed, the programs refreshed and even the brochures look different. Edwin Outwater comes to our city from California and is strong on engaging a young audience and bringing music to the general public. Besides classics like Beethoven, Mozart and Sibelius we can expect a number of modern composers rarely presented and an overall youthful flare. Good for him!
The first concert of Signature Series (8 concerts through the season, Fridays and Saturdays in Centre in the Square, Sundays in River Run centre in Guelph) took place on the weekend of September 14-15 and was quite a musical event. It consisted of two classics, beautifully played,- Beethoven Symphony No.5 and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G-major with Jamie Parker at the piano. The 5th Symphony needs no praise, it speaks for itself and the orchestra was outstanding, Ravel’s concerto is not as well known, but very much worth enjoying as an alternative to the much more frequently played Bolero.
Besides the classics already mentioned, Edwin Outwater conducted John Adams The Chairman Dances, which was composed as a response to Nixon’s trip to China and reflects both the formalities of the visit and the unexpected Mrs. Mao’s foxtrot dances. It is a wonderful piece. The fourth composition was a 2-minute piece Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety by New Yorker Morton Feldman – and it was a very memorable eulogy to a piano teacher. I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised about how musically agreeable were those two 20-th century compositions, how pleasant and fluid were the melodies, how expressive and complete they were. Maybe it is time to get more familiar with 20th century music,- now in 2007, it is "the previous century" after all.
Edwin Outwater is a great acquisition for the Region: young, good looking, enthusiastic, committed for 4 years and coming with new ideas. He was welcomed by the audience with a standing ovation, and responded wholeheartedly. In contrast to past conductors, he is planning to actually reside in the city. Maybe it is time for the old respectable guard to let the new generation take over and hopefully bring more participation from the community with it.
Two other series are Generations (4 concerts Sunday afternoons at 2:30 pm) and Pops Series. And there are some series especially for children.
The 2007/08 programs are available atwww.kwsymphony.on.ca and the brochures look really attractive – call 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977 or pick them up at Centre in the Square. All the best to Edwin and the musicians of KW Symphony!
Master Class– Theatre Athena in Waterloo
Master Class, the first play of the second season for Theatre Athena, opened on Thursday, September 27. As a clear sign of the fresh and new individual style of Artistic Director Allison Grant, it is different, and difficult to classify (not a comedy – or is it? not a drama – maybe? – not a musical – but includes singing opera parts). - For sure, it is memorable. This play is a study on Maria Callas, one of the greatest divas in the history of opera. Presented in a format of a master class directed by Maria Callas interviewing (or tutoring) young hopefuls for opera singing careers gives us an inside view of her personality, her life – parts of it known and parts very intimate - and her great successes. Her operatic career spans from the Second World War when as a young 18-year old she was singing for the German troops through to the glorious 50’s with super star fame in her performances in La Scala to the 60’s when she gradually faded away. Her relationship with Aristotle Onassiss is mentioned, and the music played in the background, like old records, together takes us to another times and another era.
The main role of Maria Callas is played by Barbara Barsky, herself an actress and singer, who manage to present Maria so convincingly, both in her appearance and behavior. The style and gestures of the great diva are unmistakable! Three students coming for her master class are actual singers and they have a chance to perform some opera pieces on stage. Sherry Steele is from London, Ontario, Amy Walsh and Eric Olsen are special treats on their own. The music, singing, the background, gives us a taste of the operatic world and one of the greatest prima donnas of all time. It runs till October 13 and is very much worth putting on your calendar.
In November 13 to 24 Theatre Athena will stage Wingfield on Ice and in December 13 to 29 a Christmas production intended as a family entertainment Bunnicula. The tickets are available at the box office downtown Waterloo or call 519-883-0300.
The web site iswww.waterlooentertainmentcentre.com
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