Grand Slam!

February 26, 2019 Download this release in PDF format

For Immediate Release February 26, 2019


Esprit Orchestra’s Season Finale Concert
Hits It Out of the Park with Grand Slam!


The final Koerner Hall concert of Esprit Orchestra’s 2018-2019 is sure to excite the audience with a World Premiere, a passionate cello concerto, and a thrilling percussion concerto. The program includes music by exceptional composers Unsuk Chin, Maki Ishii, and Christopher Thornborrow, as well as extraordinary soloists cellist Joseph Johnson and percussionist Ryan Scott. The concert will take place on March 24, 2019 at 8:00 pm at Koerner Hall, and will be preceded by an engaging pre-concert talk hosted by Alexina Louie.

The orchestra will perform the World Premiere of Toronto-based composer Christopher Thornborrow’s new work, Trompe l’œil. Thornborrow, an emerging composer and educator, just premiered a new opera with Tapestry Opera called Hook Up in February. The World Premiere of his commissioned work with Esprit is much anticipated – marking an exciting winter season for the young composer. Trompe l’œil pays homage to Carel Fabritius’s painting, The Goldfinch. Birdsong features prominently, with tiny, detailed melodies in the woodwinds; the melodies are stacked vertically to create thick textures which emulate the bold brush strokes of Fabritius’s painting technique. The final movements reflect on the fragility of life and of art.

In keeping with Esprit’s commitment to fostering lasting relationships with composers’ work through repeat performances, Korean composer Unsuk Chin is featured for the second time this season. Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Johnson returns to the Esprit stage as guest artist to perform Chin’s Cello Concerto. This work explores the cello’s lyric qualities, with an alluring sense of fluttering and floating, casting a spell with dream-like sequences only to shock them with abrupt impulses of musical lightening and frenetic drive.

After the hit performance of Maki Ishii’s Mono-Prism by taiko drummers during last season’s finale concert, Ishii’s music will reappear with another impressive percussion performance by none other than Esprit’s principal percussionist, Ryan Scott. Ishii’s powerful Afro Concerto blends cultural inflections into a “magical musical world invoked by incessant repetition”. This high energy work is a spectacular musical blast to end the season.

While Grand Slam! is Esprit’s final concert in Koerner Hall this season, Esprit will be relaunching its New Wave Young Composers Festival with a concert of World Premieres on April 5, 2019 at 7pm. New Wave Reprise features five newly commissioned works by emerging composers Eugene Astapov, Bekah Simms, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Quinn Jacobs, and Christina Volpini. The concert, taking place at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, will be preceded by an engaging keynote speech delivered by renowned Canadian composer John Rea. A post-concert reception will give all attendees a chance to mingle with the featured artists over beer and light fare.



Esprit Orchestra Presents: Grand Slam!
Sunday March 24, 2019 |
8:00pm Concert | 7:15pm Pre-Concert Chat

Pre-concert chat hosted by composer, Alexina Louie

Alex Pauk – conductor
Ryan Scott—percussion
Joseph Johnson—cello

Christopher Thornborrow (Canada)Trompe L'œil (2019)**
Maki Ishii (Japan)Afro-Concerto (1982)
Unsuk Chin (Korea)Cello Concerto (2006; rev. 2013)*

*Canadian Premiere
**World Premiere commissioned by Esprit Orchestra with generous support from Ontario Arts Council

Concert Sponsors:

Judy and Wilmot Matthews 

Program Sponsor:


Royal Conservatory of Music TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Individual concert tickets start at: Adult $45; Senior 65+ $45; Under 30 $27; Student $25
Please call (416) 408 0208 or visit

Season Sponsor:

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, TELUS, SOCAN Foundation, The Koerner Foundation, The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation, The J.P. Bickell Foundation, Timothy & Frances Price, and Judy & Wilmot Matthews for their generous support.

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