Winnipeg Symphony musicians head to Carnegie Hall

Members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra have been practising, practising, practising, and now their special performance at New York's Carnegie Hall is coming up on Thursday as part of Spring for Music, a North American showcase of orchestras.

WSO performs at Carnegie Hall in New York

Every musician dreams of performing at Carnegie Hall.

Members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra have been practising, practising, practising, and now their special performance is coming up on Thursday as part of Spring for Music, a North American showcase of orchestras.
"Alexander Mickelthwate on our Spring for Music poster in New York City." (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra)

Click on the photo gallery, above, for some great selfies from orchestra members and fans alike.

The WSO was chosen from among more than 30 orchestras across the continent that applied.

The program includes a work for percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie written by composer-in-residence Vincent Ho called The Shaman: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, a work by Derek Charke called Thirteen Inuit Throat Song Games featuring Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and R. Murray Schafer's Symphony No.1.

"The program is really our soul," said music director Alexander Mickelthwate. "It's us — Winnipeg."

Glennie is thrilled to take The Shaman to Carnegie Hall.

"The WSO is so experienced with dealing with new music, so anything is possible. The program is a celebration of Canadian composers, and that's important. I just feel very privileged to be part of that," she said.

As for composer Vincent Ho, he says having his work performed at Carnegie Hall is a dream come true.

"It's actually quite poignant," he said at the Winnipeg airport on his way to New York. "My first appearance with the WSO was exactly 10 years ago, and then 10 years later I'm ending my composer-in-residency with them with a performance at Carnegie Hall. How beautiful is that?

Composer Vincent Ho ready to leave for New York. (Andrea Ratuski/CBC)
"To finally have my work performed by a great orchestra — one of Canada's great orchestras — at one of the most prestigious venues in North America, is one of those bucket list items that every composer dreams of checking off," he continued.

Clarinetist Michelle Goddard is excited to be going to New York for the first time and she says the musicians have been working extra hard.

"The level of detail is so much higher," she said. "For this concert we're really looking deeper into everything and I think everyone's spent even more time at home practising than usual preparing for this."

Jeremy Epp had the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall last year. He says the acoustics of the hall are absolutely amazing.

Not only that, "you've got the history, too, where there are connections to composers like Tchaikovsky and Mahler and Stravinsky — we have a feeling that they lived a long time ago, but all of a sudden you step into that room and there's a tangible sense of having a connection with these people who also played on that stage," he said.

Eight hundred friends, family and fans are also making the trip to be in the audience.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's concert at Carnegie Hall will be streamed live on the website of New York classical radio station WQXR starting at 7:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. CT).