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Music Niagara Festival

The month-long chamber music series returns to Niagara-on-the-Lake

The Music Niagara Festival kicks off its 13th season in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on Saturday, July 16 with a gala opening night concert and continues at multiple venues, including area wineries, for a total of 34 concerts, before ending on Saturday, August 13. Unless noted otherwise, all concerts start at 7:30pm and are at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

Headline Concerts

Anagnoson-Kinton piano duo.
Cecilia String Quartet.

The Opening Gala on Saturday, July 16 features the Anagnoson-Kinton Piano Duo in an arrangement of Stravinsky’s Petrushka as well as a selection of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, while Sara-Anne Churchill, recipient of the Montreal Baroque Prize for Audaciousness and Musicality, will be the harpsichord soloist in both Bach’s Italian Concerto and Haydn’s Concerto for harpsichord, violin and strings, featuring the Festival’s music director Atis Bankas, as violin soloist. A post-concert reception is included in the ticket price.

On Saturday, July 30, Stewart Goodyear, a rising star among Canadian pianists, who has made multiple appearances as a soloist with top tier orchestras in both Canada and the US, including six with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performs Beethoven’s Tempest and Waldstein sonatas, and then joins the Gould String Quartet in Brahms’ Piano Quintet, Op. 34.

The Quartetto Gelato has carved out an enviable reputation for itself over the last fifteen years, and on Thursday, August 4, it makes a welcome return to the Festival with its unique style that mixes classical masterworks and operatic arias with tangos, gypsy music and folk songs from around the world.

The Cecilia String Quartet was the top prize winner at the 2010 Banff International String Quartet competition, and on Friday, August 5, their program includes Puccini’s Crisantemi, Beethoven’s final String Quartet, Op. 135, and Dvorak’s String Quartet Op. 106. The all-female quartet will appear on a Buffalo Chamber Music Society program in January.

On Saturday, August 6, Canadian pianist Andre Laplante, widely hailed for his interpretation of music from the romantic era, performs the music of Liszt, including selections from his Years of Pilgrimage series, as well as a Haydn sonata and Ravel’s Sonatina, interspersed with readings of poetry that influenced their compositions.

Violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys and pianist Jamie Baker make up the Gryphon Trio, which has toured extensively throughout North America, and their performance on Friday, August 12 features trios by Haydn and Beethoven, as well as Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8.

Canadian Masters Series

An evening of Baroque music and dance on Saturday, July 23 will feature La Belle Baroque Dance Company demonstrating the elegant, courtly dances of the 17th and 18th century, with harpsichordist Sara-Anne Churchill and flutist Camille Watts performing several baroque dance suites and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

On Monday, July 25, the dean of Canadian pianists, Vancouver-based Robert Silverman, returns for an evening of Beethoven—the Pathétique and Appassionata Sonatas—and the monumental Sonata in B minor by Franz Liszt. Silverman, whose recording of the piano music of Liszt received the Grand Prix du Disque from the Liszt Society of Budapest, has a multiple award winning career spanning five decades, including acclaimed performances of the complete Beethoven and Mozart sonata cycles, subsequently released on CD.

Duo Concertante is made up of violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves, and on Friday, July 29 they perform an eclectic program of works by Bach, Brahms, Dvorak, Gershwin, Khachaturian, Dizzy Gillespie, as well as Abreu’s ever-popular Tico Tico, a work heard last Friday on the BPOlé! concert at Kleinhans.

On Monday, August 1, the Joe Trio and the Canadian Oboe trio join forces for a concert of wind music by Mozart and Beethoven, as well as a trio by Canadian composer Gary Kulesha.

In a rare program featuring the double bass, leading Canadian double bass virtuoso Joel Quarrington joins cellist Carole Sirois and members of the Gould Quartet for an all-Italian program of music by Rossini, Bottesini Dragonetti and Paganini on Monday, August 8.

James Campbell, who has been called Canada’s leading clarinetist, joins the Gould String Quartet for Weber’s Clarinet Quintet and a selection of jazz classics on Thursday, August 11, at the Hillebrand Estates Winery.

On Saturday, August 13, the closing night concert will feature Atis Bankas as soloist in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, while the forces of the Choralis Camerata, led by Laura Thomas, will join Buffalo’s own Vocalis Chamber Choir, led by James Burritt, and the Orchestra of St. Mark’s in a performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria.

Classics in Context

A new series features performers and music experts offering insights into the lives and loves of Liszt and Beethoven. In celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt, on Monday, July 18, a panel of experts, that includes WNED radio host Peter Hall and Shaw Festival artistic director emeritus Christopher Newton, discuss the notorious rivalry of Liszt and the distinguished piano virtuoso Sigismond Thalberg, his greatest adversary. Following the discussion pianist Mykola Suk, a winner of the Liszt Competition, will “impersonate” both pianists at the keyboard.

On Sunday, August 7 at 4pm, a performance piece based on the best-selling book by Russell Martin, Beethoven’s Hair, traces the historical odyssey of a lock of hair, taken from Beethoven’s body. Shaw Festival actor Blair Williams and soprano Marie Fischer are joined by violinist Atis Bankas and Buffalo’s favorite pianist, Claudia Hoca, in a musical dramatization of this non-fiction, scientific mystery, in what may be the most intriguing program of this season.

For more information visit: Tickets: 1-800-511-7429, or Shaw Festival Box Office, in the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, or at the door, 30 minutes before each concert.

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