2016-17 Season Launch

September 8, 2016 Download this release in PDF format

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2016 – Toronto, ON


Esprit Orchestra proudly celebrates Canadian contemporary music in an international context throughout its upcoming 2016/17 Subscription Concert Series. The series includes a tribute to one of Canada’s most esteemed composers R. Murray Schafer, a salute to our French connections, exciting World Premieres from vital young composers, and a high energy final concert that will send our audience into overdrive. The season features spellbinding performances by some of Canada’s most outstanding, internationally acclaimed soloists including mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, champion of new music and flutist Robert Aitken, percussionist Ryan Scott, cellist Joseph Johnson, and violinist Véronique Mathieu. All concerts take place at 8:00 pm at Koerner Hall, and are preceded by engaging pre-concert talks with the composers and musicians. Concert dates are: October 23, November 20, February 12, April 2.

Esprit Orchestra’s Opening Concert of the 2016/17 Season, titled Power On, takes place on October 23, 2016. The program, conducted by Esprit’s Founding Music Director and Conductor Alex Pauk, features a tribute to renowned Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer with performances of three of his most important works for the concert stage. The program highlights the long musical friendship and working relationship Esprit has had with Schafer and reflects the respect and admiration Esprit has for the composer’s work along with Schafer’s complete trust in Esprit to give his music its best performances. This concert represents a noteworthy opportunity to honour and experience the work of a Canadian musical icon.

To round out the program, American rising-star composer Andrew Norman’s full blast percussion concerto Switch is a devious, playful game of control. Navigating a complex system of differing channels, the soloist, as protagonist, must navigate adeptly through an inimitable sonic universe inspired by the mysterious realms of video games.

On November 20, 2016 the Esprit Orchestra will perform its second concert of the 2016/17 Season. The programming of this concert was inspired by the sensual resonance of Philippe Leroux’s concerto grosso for orchestra, titled m’M. In the French language, ‘M’ represents the phonetic sense of ‘love’. Leroux extends that idea; ‘m’ represents a small group of instrumentalists within the orchestra, and ‘M’ represents the remaining larger combination of players surrounding the small group.

Esprit’s performance of legendary American composer George Crumb’s A Haunted Landscape, for large orchestra, presents a rare listening opportunity for Esprit’s audience. The piece creates almost ritualistic sonic impressions expressing that certain places on Earth “are imbued with an aura of mystery”. Zosha Di Castri’s Alba reflects on the idea of dawn in the winter on the prairies of Northern Alberta. Alba calls up “the majestic beauty in this quilted silence and stunning flatness”. Marc-André Dalbavie’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra is comprised of a set of fantasies demanding a wide range of virtuosic playing from guest soloist Joseph Johnson, principal cellist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Adventure and discovery come with premiering new works; Esprit takes pride in embarking on that adventure this season with new pieces by talented Canadian composers Analia Llugdar, Adam Scime, and John Rea. Accelerando, Esprit’s third concert of the 2016/17 season is set for February 12, 2017. Providing the title piece is Montreal based composer, José Evangelista; his piece Accelerando, being premiered by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in November 2016, is also new. Llugdar, who studied under Evangelista, composes as though she is inside sound, aiming at expression through complex textures, many contrasts and extremes in the same piece. Also based in Montreal, composer John Rea had Esprit audiences drifting on the gentle breeze of his Zefiro torna last season, and returns for a World Premiere of his new work, commissioned by Esprit in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Conlon Nancarrow, famous for complex player piano pieces not playable by humans, is represented by an orchestral gem that can be performed by Esprit’s excellent musicians. Esprit’s new commission by promising Canadian composer, Adam Scime draws inspiration from vast networks of subterranean passages shaped over uncountable lifetimes as the Earth convulses and transforms into varying formations of land; the piece is a new panel of a triptyque for Esprit.

Esprit’s high energy finale to the 2016/17 Season, Overdrive, will take place on April 2, 2017. This program came together out of a common link between the impressive forces of man-made technologies and the parallel passions of the human condition. Featuring pieces by composers from Canada and around the world, Overdrive takes listeners through a whirlwind progression of mechanization, through to the 21st century. Machines have come to play an integral role in our lives, and Alexander Mosolov’s The Iron Foundry explores the surging early stages of that relationship. Swiss composer, Arthur Honegger takes his love of industrial technology a step further, writing, “Pacific 231 is not an imitation of the noise of the locomotive, but the translation into music of the visual impressions and physical sensation of it”. The Iron Foundry and Pacific 231 are imaginative musical depictions of forces at the height of the industrial revolution that suggest both organic and mechanical extensions of human feelings.

Audiences last season were hypnotized by Thomas Adès’s Polaris, a piece during which the listener is encompassed by sound. Adès’s skillfully composed concerto will again immerse listeners in mercurial layers of sound. The sonic materials of the concerto are sheets of sound in differing orbits, overlapping, sometimes clashing circular forms, and playful, easeful cycles in harmony at different rates. John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine elevates the level of excitement—however, he leaves the audience to ponder on his question, “you know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn’t?” Finally, Canadian composer Chris Paul Harman pushes things into overdrive with Blur.


All Pre-Concert Chats Moderated by composer Alexina Louie.

Esprit Orchestra Presents: Power On | Sunday October 23, 2016

Alex Pauk – conductor
Ryan Scott – percussion | Robert Aitken – flute | Krisztina Szabó – mezzo-soprano


R. Murray Schafer (Canada)Scorpius (1990)*
 Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1984)
 Adieu Robert Schumann (1976)
Andrew Norman (U.S.A.)Switch for percussion and orchestra (2015) **

*Previously commissioned and premiered by Esprit
**Canadian Premiere

Concert Sponsor:


Esprit Orchestra’s performance of R. Murray Schafer’s music is generously supported by:

The Koerner Foundation


Esprit Orchestra Presents: m’M | Sunday November 20, 2016

Alex Pauk – conductor
Joseph Johnson – cello


George Crumb (U.S.A.)A Haunted Landscape (1984)*
Marc-André Dalbavie (France)Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2013)*
Zosha Di Castri (Canada)Alba (2011)
Philippe Leroux (Canada/France)m’M (2003)

*Canadian Premiere


Esprit Orchestra Presents: Accelerando | Sunday February, 12, 2017

Alex Pauk – conductor

José Evangelista (Canada)Accelerando (2016)
Analia Llugdar (Canada)New Work (2017) **
Conlon Nancarrow (Mexico/ U.S.A.)Piece No. 2 for Small Orchestra (1985)*
John Rea (Canada)New Work (2017) ***
Adam Scime (Canada)New Work (2017) ***

* Canadian Premiere
** World Premiere commissioned by Esprit with generous support from the Koerner Foundation
*** World Premiere commissioned in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Concert Sponsor:
The Max Clarkson Family Foundation


Esprit Orchestra Presents: Overdrive | Sunday April 2, 2017

Alex Pauk – conductor
Véronique Mathieu – violin

Thomas Adès (England)Violin Concerto – Concentric Paths (2005)*
Arthur Honegger (Switzerland)Pacific 231 (1926)*
Alexander Mosolov (Russia)The Iron Foundry (1923)
John Adams (U.S.A.)Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986)
Chris Paul Harman (Canada)Blur (1997)

*Canadian Premiere

Royal Conservatory of Music TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Individual concert tickets start at: Adult $40; Senior 65+ $40; Under 30 $22; Student $20
Please call (416) 408 0208 or visit espritorchestra.com

Esprit Orchestra is Canada’s only full-sized orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and promoting new orchestral music. Esprit Orchestra gratefully acknowledges Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Foundation, SOCAN Foundation, The Koerner Foundation, The Hal Jackman Foundation, The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation, Timothy & Frances Price, Judy & Wilmot Matthews, and The Max Clarkson Family Foundation for the their generous support.

Media Contact:
Amber Melhado / Marketing & Outreach Coordinator
(416) 815-7887