To be invited by Carnegie Hall - well it's like if the Jets would get to the Stanley Cup - that kind of feel.
—Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
Alexander Mickelthwate, music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, has announced the orchestra's 2013-2014 season. Topping the list of events is their big concert at Carnegie Hall.
"It's the highest honour and I'm completely thrilled," says Mickelthwate. "Everyone from the Beatles to Toscanini has performed there. To be invited by Carnegie Hall - well it's like if the Jets would get to the Stanley Cup - that kind of feel."
The concert is part of a series called Spring for Music taking place next May. The WSO was one of only six orchestras from across North America chosen to be part of the festival. They had to submit an innovative program in order to be eligible. "We had to be creative and reflect our neighbourhood," says Mickelthwate.
The WSO will perform a concerto for percussionist Evelyn Glennie written by composer-in-residence Vincent Ho called The Shaman, a hit from 2010 featuring Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Symphony No.1 by R. Murray Schafer, "the godfather of classical music in Canada," says Mickelthwate.
But sending a symphony to New York for a gig is a fairly costly endeavour. To help offset the $300,000 price tag, the WSO has a unique fundraising campaign that allows donors to "buy a player" for $3000 each. Those donations plus practice, practice, practice will ensure each musician can make the trip.
Otherwise, in the WSO's pops series, Michelthwate is particularly excited that George Takei, of Star Trek fame, will join the orchestra for music from the series. "Personally, I'm a big Star Trek fan," he says. "Actually my family and I are slowly going through The Next Generation evening by evening and it's really exciting."
East coast fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster and the amazing Peking Acrobats will also be joining the orchestra next season.
Every year the orchestra performs with a local band and this time, coinciding with the Junos being in Winnipeg, the orchestra decided to bring five bands together in a concert called Manitoba Rocks. Royal Canoe, Imaginary Cities, Nathan, Chic Gamine and The Lytics will all be part of that event.
On the classical side, the German conductor is looking forward to a performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8. "If you have never heard of him, he is one of 'the' big romantic composers at the end of the 19th Century writing pieces for an orchestra that exceeds the regular size," explains Mickelthwate. "The piece itself is over an hour long but it is so extremely bombastic and gorgeous with - think of Mount Everest."
Tchaikovsky will be the featured composer of a two week festival at the end of October.
Among soloists, two Canadian icons will return to perform. Pianist André Laplante will open the season in September playing Rachmaninoff and Brandon-born violinist James Ehnes will perform in October.
The Hilliard Ensemble of England has been invited to be part of the 2014 New Music Festival at the end of January. That concert will also feature a violin concerto by Owen Pallett.
The orchestra still has some outdoor concerts coming up this summer. Catch them in Kenora on June 28, at The Lyric Theatre on June 29 and at The Forks on Canada Day.