Last night, at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, Music Director Andrei Feher, Executive Director Andrew Bennett, and Artistic Administrator Olga Mychajluk announced the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s 2020/21 Season, one that sees the KWS celebrating their 75th anniversary. Attendees heard a special string octet performance of an excerpt from Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.
Of the anniversary season Executive Director Andrew Bennett (photo) commented, “75 years of bringing joy through orchestral music is an incredible track record for the KWS. The accumulated endeavour and artistic achievement over many generations sets us up for the exciting next chapter in this orchestra’s history. We are grateful to everyone in our community – musicians, audience members, donors, and sponsors – whose investment has got us to this significant milestone, and we look forward to celebrating with you in considerable style!”
The 2020/21 Season sees Music Director Andrei Feher leading programs across a wide range of series, from Signature and Pops concerts, to Baroque and Family concerts. “I can’t believe how quickly times flies and that this is already my third season with the KWS”, commented Feher. “Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the orchestra is a special honour for me and I’m excited for our big musical plans. I feel privileged to be part of the KWS and this community, and I look forward to sharing every note with you this season.”
To celebrate the 75th anniversary as well as the 40th anniversary of the Centre In The Square, the Signature Series features a performance of Mahler’s magnificent and majestic Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, in May. This piece was first performed by the KWS for the triumphant opening of the Centre in the Square on September 22, 1980 and was led by Raffi Armenian, an important figure in the history of the KWS and one of Andrei Feher’s conducting teachers. This symphony of epic proportions and historic significance to the KWS is the ultimate anniversary celebration. The series opens with KWS Concertmaster Bénédicte Lauzière performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on a program entitled The Russian Connection. It also features Kalinnikov, a lesser-known Russian composer who died at an early age but deserves a place among the Russian greats. To celebrate the 75th anniversary, the program also features a special commission by Artist-In-Residence and Cultural Consultant Barbara Croall entitled Megyaakwaang (In the Woods). KWS harp player Lori Gemmell and former KWS flute player Kaili Maimets are featured on the Mozart & Sibelius program in January led by young French conductor Chloé van Soeterstède. Andrei Feher takes the podium in five of the eight programs on the series, including Mighty Masterpieces in February. This concert features orchestral heavy hitters Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, performed by Canadian pianist and return KWS guest Charles Richard-Hamelin. Joining the KWS for Haydn’s Piano Concerto No. 11 and Strauss’s witty piece for piano, Burleske, is acclaimed Canadian pianist and multiple Grammy Award nominee Marc-André Hamelin. Another highlight is Music Director Laureate Edwin Outwater’s first Signature Series return to lead the orchestra for Barber & Elgar, a program featuring music from both sides of the Atlantic with Amercian and British composers.
The Pops Series opens in New Orleans party-style with Parade on Bourbon Street led by KWS Pops favourite conductor Lucas Waldin, and features virtuoso Canadian pianist Michael Kaeshammer. Former Assistant Conductor and another KWS audience favourite, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, returns to lead two concerts: the annual Yuletide Spectacular featuring the return of the Waterloo Region Mass Choir following their impressive debut last year, and Thorgy and The Thorchestra, featuring the reigning Queen of Classical Music and star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Thorgy Thor. Fans of Cirque de la Symphonie are in for a treat with a brand new concert experience from Troupe Vertigo. Formed by Cirque du Soleil alumni, Troupe Vertigo creates spellbinding performances in an eclectic mix of circus-dance-theatre accompanied by orchestral favourites. Canada’s #1 drama comes to musical life in Murdoch Mysteries in Concert. Led by Lucas Waldin and hosted by a Murdoch Mysteries cast member, audiences get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the show, and hear the KWS perform the score live while one of the most beloved and musically rich episodes is shown on the big screen. Films and their music feature again this season beginning with Equus – Story of the Horse: In Concert, an award-winning CBC miniseries exploring humanity’s amazing partnership with the horse accompanied by a score by Canadian composer Darren Fung. The season ends with the timeless classic The Wizard of Oz, shown on the big screen while the KWS performs the soundtrack live. There’s no place like home…or the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony!
The Baroque & Beyond Series sees KWS musicians Bruce McGillivray, Bénédicte Lauzière, Jung Tsai, and Music Director Andrei Feher curating programs that range from an all-Haydn concert, to one that puts a twist on a famous Baroque masterpiece featuring The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by composer Astor Piazzolla.
The Saturday morning Kinderconcerts Series continues the format of storytellers with a small group of KWS musicians, with the storytellers for the 2020/21 Season presented in collaboration with Green Light Arts. The Saturday afternoon Family Series explores the theme of the seasons with concerts celebrating the fall, winter, and spring. The fall concert, Monster Mash, is a Halloween destination with Halloween-themed music, spooky activities in the lobby, and more. Music Director Andrei Feher leads the spring concert called Carnival of the Animals, which features the beloved and humours suite of the same name by Saint-Saëns. All concerts on the Family Series also feature the KWS Youth Orchestra performing side-by-side with the KWS. Both the Family Series and the Kinderconcerts Series feature interactive pre-concert activities hosted by Music for Young Children that let children get up close to the music.
The KWS would like to thank the following sponsors: BMO Financial Group: Music Director Podium Sponsor; Exel Research Inc.: Programming; Heffner Lexus: Pops Series; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.: Family Series; Karen Wilkinson: Baroque & Beyond Series; Dr. Desta Leavine: Podium.