The SPOGreatMusic P erformance Series: S41E12
Release Date: March 26, 2021
On this twelfth episode of our SPOGreatMusic Performance Series (Season 41, 2020/2021), we’re pleased to present the following videos:
Samuel Bisson’s “In Memoriam”
The Odin Quartet and Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra dedicate this video performance to those lives lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic — and to the families and loved ones who mourn. We also acknowledge the tremendous efforts of medical professionals and frontline workers in our community of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada — and around the planet — who are helping us keep moving forward.
Samuel Bisson, composer; Odin Quartet | Alex Toskov, violin I; Tanya Charles, violin II; Laurence Schaufele, viola; Samuel Bisson, cello. Mr. Bisson composed “In Memoriam” in 2006 and is dedicted to Samuel’s friend who lost her brother. You’ll find both the music and images to be extremely powerful and moving. Samuel is a seasoned and extremely talented cellist and musician who is becoming much in demand as a film composer. Samuel has been principal cellist for the SPO for several years, and has also been personnel manager of the musicians. The Odin Quartet has been the SPO Ensemble-in-Residence since 2017 and is recognized as one of Ontario’s premiere quartets.
Audio Recorded: June 2016 at Forest Grove United Church | Sound Engineer: Marty Smyth | Sound Editor: Samuel Bisson |
Producer: Colin Mendez Morris | Filmed: November 2017 by Rob Viscardis | Locations: Campbell Museum and local cemetery.
Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh’s “Koozeh (Two Thousand Silent Pots of Clay)”
Translation: I stood in a potter’s shop one day, And saw two thousand silent pots of clay; A voice then heard across the bay: Who the potter and who the pot this day?
Meaning: We simply exist side by side; Silently, comfortably and without a care, Seldom comes someone who will dare, To leave a question hanging in the air.”
Michael Maevskiy’s “Air”
“Air” is presented as part of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual New Generation Composers Workshop project. The NGCW creates opportunities for young, Canadian composers to create new music for small ensembles and to be mentored by professional Canadian composers from the SPO community, including SPO Music Director and Conductor, Mr. Ronald Royer. The NGCW is presented in association with the University of Toronto Schools, with additional funding support from the SOCAN Foundation and Toronto Arts Council. The SPO is very proud to have met our commitment to these talented young composers and completed this project during the pandemic.
We also appreciate the dedication and commitment from our SPO musicians and the Odin Quartet in adapting to conditions and conquering tech issues associated with remote recording, and to sound editors who assembled and mixed the audio.
Paul Kawabe’s “Finding Focus”
“Finding Focus” is presented as part of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual New Generation Composers Workshop project. The NGCW creates opportunities for young, Canadian composers to create new music for small ensembles and to be mentored by professional Canadian composers from the SPO community, including SPO Music Director and Conductor, Mr. Ronald Royer. The NGCW is presented in association with the University of Toronto Schools, with additional funding support from the SOCAN Foundation and Toronto Arts Council.
“Hat Trick” – Animated Short Film
Mera Merose’s “Day Be Downed”
When you think of the contrabass, you might not think of it as a solo instrument. Treat yourself to something unique with this beautiful performance of a traditional song from Greece. The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) appreciates the support and participation with our 2020/2021 online digital content. It’s no lie that great classical music is best enjoyed live. However, in these pandemic times, we’re all adapting to keep great music alive in our community.
Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse”
Maurice Ravel, composer; Alexander Panizza, piano. This is one of the most technically demanding solo piano works in the repertoire, ever. Mr. Panizza delivers a simply masterful performance, as he does each time he sits at the instrument.
La valse, poème chorégraphique pour orchestre (a choreographic poem for orchestra), is a work written between February 1919 and 1920; it was first performed on December 12, 1920, in Paris. It was conceived as a ballet but is now more often heard as a concert work. The work has been described as a tribute to the waltz; the composer George Benjamin, in his analysis of La valse, summarized the ethos of the work: “Whether or not it was intended as a metaphor for the predicament of European civilization in the aftermath of the Great War, its one-movement design plots the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz.”
Ravel himself, however, denied that it is a reflection of post-World War I Europe, saying, “While some discover an attempt at parody, indeed caricature, others categorically see a tragic allusion in it – the end of the Second Empire, the situation in Vienna after the war, etc… This dance may seem tragic, like any other emotion… pushed to the extreme. But one should only see in it what the music expresses: an ascending progression of sonority, to which the stage comes along to add light and movement.” He also commented, in 1922, that “It doesn’t have anything to do with the present situation in Vienna, and it also doesn’t have any symbolic meaning in that regard. In the course of La Valse, I did not envision a dance of death or a struggle between life and death. (The year of the choreographic setting, 1855, repudiates such an assumption.)”
In his tribute to Ravel after the composer’s death in 1937, Paul Landormy described the work as “the most unexpected of the compositions of Ravel, revealing to us heretofore unexpected depths of Romanticism, power, vigor, and rapture in this musician whose expression is usually limited to the manifestations of an essentially classical genius.” [Source: Wikipedia]
Performer and Composer Bios
SAMUEL BISSON : Originally from Ottawa, cellist Samuel Bisson is quickly distinguishing himself in Canada as a versatile soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Currently based in Toronto, he performs frequently in the GTA and has performed and toured across Canada, the US, Austria and China. He has performed with renowned Canadian piano trio, the Gryphon Trio and performs regularly as part of the Passport Duo. Samuel currently holds the position of principal cellist with the Sneak Peek Orchestra (Toronto) and the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra (Scarborough) and has appeared as principal and section cellist with the Toronto Concert Orchestra (Toronto), Ottawa Symphnoy Orchestra (Ottawa), Brantford Symphony Orchestra (Brantford), Ontario Philharmonic (Oshawa) and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne (Montreal).
Over the years, Samuel has had the pleasure of working with many renowned cellists including Janos Starker, Roman Borys, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Paul Katz, Anthony Elliott, Paul Marleyn and Julian Armour. He has also had the privilege of playing with great chamber musicians and masters such as Pinchas Zuckerman, Mark Fewer, Jean Desmarais, Angela Hewitt and the St-Lawrence String Quartet. Samuel has a special interest in new and unknown music and has an ease with a broad range of musical styles. He regularly performs premieres of new works and has been a guest of Toronto’s New Music Festival for two years. Beyond the boundaries of classical performance, Samuel is an active studio session musician and performer/arranger in a variety of music genres. He has been involved with projects that stylistically range from jazz and broadway to metal and electronica, and has worked and collaborated with artists such as Drake, Sarah Brightman and members of Barenaked Ladies and Our Lady Peace.
Samuel is also a composer and has had many works performed by ensembles across the country. He composed the score to the award-winning short film Nuit Blanche, as well as the soundtrack to the Mandarin language feature film Lovesick, released theatrically in China and Taiwan. Learn more about Samuel on his Website.
ODIN QUARTET : Born in early 2015 on the Philosopher’s Walk in downtown Toronto, the Odin Quartet unites four musicians who represent the diversity that Canada takes pride in. Violinist, Alex Toskov, is originally from Belgrade, Serbia. Tanya Charles Iveniuk, also a violinist, grew up in Hamilton, Ontario with roots in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Veronica Lee, born in South Korea, is a violist from LaSalle, Ontario. French-Canadian cellist and composer, Samuel Bisson, hails from Ottawa, Ontario. In June 2015, the Odin Quartet was selected to be one of the few ensembles to participate in the Luminato Festival’s epic production of R Murray Schafer’s, Apocalypsis. Through this, the Quartet had the opportunity not only of being mentored by the award-winning Afiara and Cecilia Quartets, but were also invited to collaborate with them on outreach and performances shortly thereafter. Since then, the Odin Quartet has been frequent performers of the Ottawa Valley Music Festival, Barrie Concert Series, Guelph Connections, Music in the Atrium, Music at Mount Pleasant, and Music Niagara. The Quartet, which takes its name from the one-eyed Norse deity, aims to promote modern Canadian compositions in addition to collaborating with other musicians and artists of other disciplines.
The Odin Quartet has served as the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s Ensemble- in-Residence since September 2017. In 2018, the ensemble premiered a new piece by Samuel Bisson, entitled EPITAPH foratonality, which featured the Quartet as soloists with the Scarborough Philharmonic, conducted by Ronald Royer. Collaborations have included artists such as Atis Bankas (violin), Victoria Kogan (piano), Raffi Altounian (guitar), Carmen Romero (flamenco dancer), Christopher Kelk (actor, storyteller), the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Spectrum Music. In 2019, the ensemble celebrated the inaugural concert of its Drying Ink series, performances dedicated to the premiere of new, Canadian works written for the Quartet. Currently, they look forward to incoming compositions from their Lockdown Lullabies call for scores. This project, initiated in May of 2020, aims to inspire composers, worldwide, to continue to create and stay in positive spirits during the challenging times related to the COVID-19 health crisis. Learn more about the Odin Quartet on their website .
DR. DANIEL MEHDIZADEH D.M.A.: There is something vividly distinct about Mehdizadeh’s music. This Canadian composer is revered for his intricate, unpredictable and haunting works. The sound and gesture of his pieces bury themselves deep in complex imagination—participating you in an exploration of uncertain visceral implications. His unique musical language is perceived as complex yet engaging, bringing together a hybrid of musical expression including the Mehdizadeh Modes.
Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh (DMA, University of Toronto) is currently based in the Greater Toronto Area and is the Composer-in-Residence for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra and East Chamber Music. He has been involved in both national and international festival series. He is regularly commissioned and holds numerous performances in Europe and North America. His works have had global exposure and have been broadcasted across Canada and the US including appearance as guest composer on CBC Radio. Mehdizadeh has worked closely with conductors Ronald Royer, Simon Rivard, Jeffrey Reynolds and pianist and conductor Jean Desmarais. Influential mentors include childhood teacher Abbas Khoshdel (Iranian traditional composer), Steven Gellman (Canadian composer) and Gary Kulesha (Canadian composer and conductor). Mehdizadeh has also served as Composer-in-Residence for the University of Toronto and University of Toronto Schools. He has given lectures and composition workshops at UTS as well as adjudication and mentorship for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra as part of their annual New Generation Composer Project.
Mehdizadeh has also partnered with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra and together kickstarted a new podcast series, SPOGreatMusic, during the pandemic, helping develop new community partnerships including Scarborough Arts, FabCollab, Stratford Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian Sinfonietta, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra, and the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.
Mehdizadeh’s works receive funding through commissions and private patrons (long-time donor and supporter Nicole Senécal), as well as institutions including the latest Ontario Arts Council studio recording grant. He has collaborated with Orchestre de la Francophonie, Winds of the SPO, the Princeton Singers and the Ewashko Singers amongst many others. Notable world-renowned performers include Belgian flautist Marc Grauwels and Dutch theremin player Thorwald Jørgensen with multiple commissions and performances in festivals around the world. Learn more about this amazing human being on his: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You will also want to check out his profile on Project : Encore.
MICHAEL MAEVSKIY (2020/2021 New Generation Composers Workshop participant): (b. 1997) is a Russian-Canadian composer based in Kingston, ON. His music explores conceptual and philosophical ideas, often expressed through visceral gesture and ephemeral apparitions of sound. His style favours rich harmonies and melodic lines transfigured through a contemporary perspective, inspired by his heritage of romantic and contemporary Russian composers.
Michael shared, “‘Air’ was inspired by both the lyrical baroque form of the same name, as well as by the physicality of the breath. I have been often fascinated how long, slow, swelling, and shimmering phrases can entrance the listener, and I wanted to try that out for myself.” Learn more about Michael Maevskiy by visiting his: Instagram or Soundcloud.
PAUL KAWABE (2020/2021 New Generation Composers Workshop participant): Paul is a Toronto-based composer and Master’s student at the University of Toronto studying composition with Professor Gary Kulesha. His compositions explore the imagined or hidden personalities of any material he finds interesting – ranging from plant evolution to old buildings. His past compositions have been performed by peers, youth orchestras, and read by professional ensembles such as the New Orford and Calidore String Quartet. Check out this interesting article from University of Toronto Opera (posted November 6, 2020) regarding a new opportunity for Paul — click here.
SHREYA JHA: Shreya is a former SPO New Generation Composers Workshop participant and has a very bright future on so many levels. Shreya is in her final year studying neuroscience in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She completed her Bachelor of Music in composition at the Faculty of Music in June 2020. She is keenly interested in music composition, musical theatre, music education, and interdisciplinary research.
Shreya’s first musical “Statistics” (book, music, and lyrics) premiered at the U of T’s Drama Festival in February 2019, where it won an award of merit for composition. It then went on to win the Adams Prize for Musical Theatre at the Toronto Fringe Festival and was showcased at the Fringe Collective in July 2020. Her second musical “Connections” was premiered in November 2019 and will make its Cambodian debut with Mosaic Productions. “LUV”, written as a collaboration, will debut online in 2020-2021 and 18 Palace Road, a current work in progress, will debut in early 2021.
The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra has commissioned Shreya thrice. They have performed her pieces “String Sonata Op. 8 Mvt 4 – Allegro Vivace”, “Adversity”, and her arrangement of a traditional Inuit song, “This Child”. In March 2017 and 2018, the Gryphon Trio premiered her pieces “Vexation” and “Two Left Feet” at their Trinity College coffeehouse. The Bold City Contemporary Ensemble selected her piece “Journey Through A Daydream” for programming in their 2017-2018 season. She is an active composer in Ryerson University’s Radio and Technological Arts program. Shreya has been playing the piano for 15 years, violin for 11 years, and the viola for 5 years. She received her Associate of the Royal Conservatory (ARCT) in piano performance with honours in June 2016. She was a violist in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 2015-2016 season and a violist and pianist in the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-2017 seasons and 2017-2018 seasons.
Shreya continuously explores the intersections between music and science, including education and research. She presently teaches composition at Sistema Toronto and is a research assistant in the Music and Cognition Lab. She is also investigating the relationships between musical rhythms and heart rate variability.
Learn more about Shreya on her: Website or Twitter. . You’ll also want to check out her composition, “Fearless”, performed by Rovina and the Sistema Scarborough Youth Choir during an SPO holiday concert (pre-Covid-19, of course) here or her recent work with Prime Mover Theatre
MAXIMOS FARMAKIDIS: Maximos graduated from Athens Conservatory of Music with honours. In Toronto he studied with Thomas Monahan, instructor of contrabass at University of Toronto Faculty of Music and principal contrabass player of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Maximos Farmakidis holds a diploma in music education from the Faculty of Education and he taught high school music for the Board of Education in Toronto. As a free-lance musician, he was involved in a variety of music genres including symphonic music, chamber music and performances as a contrabass soloist. In addition to music, Maximos studied electronic technology at George Brown College and at Ryerson University and worked as an electronics technologist in a prominent Toronto firm. Connect with Maximos on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Maximos-Farmakidis-Double-Bass-Player-244511212263022/
ALEXANDER PANIZZA: Acclaimed by the specialized press, respected by his peers and winner of many prizes, Alexander Panizza (Canada-Argentina) has received numerous awards as an outstanding pianist. His extraordinary command of piano sonority, including intensity and nuance, his brilliant virtuosity, the vastness and variety of his repertoire and his ductility for working in chamber groups, with singers or with orchestra, makes him a sought after musician. Having received an international education, his career develops between the Americas and Europe. You can enjoy many more music video performances by Alexander on his YouTube channel here. You can also learn more on his: Website, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Spotify.
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