“The Subject is Light”: Thirteen Strings concert season kicks off at Dominion-Chalmers

by Kita Szpak

Centretown music fans will be delighted to hear that Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra is back with a new season of six concerts from mid-October to the beginning of June next year – all taking place close by at Dominion-Chalmers Church.

The 2017-18 season theme, “The Subject is Light,” focuses on light, shades and many colours. Whether music is looked at with the eyes, as it is when the orchestra examines the music of Handel and Bach, or is viewed through the opera glasses of string music, or is experienced as the transforming light of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the season promises to be an enlightening one, showcasing the musical excellence of Director Kevin Mallon and his “band of thirteen” as they guide the audience through the six concerts.

The world premiere of “The Talk of the Town,” by Ottawa composer Andrew Ager, opens the season and the first concert, “Metamorphoses,” on October 15. This mid-afternoon performance, featuring the music of Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-Baptiste Lully and Richard Strauss’ “Metamorphosen” establishes the light motif that will accompany Thirteen Strings throughout this season’s repertoire.

Always a favourite, the “Candlelight Christmas Concert” will be presented on December 5 with the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir and its Conductor Jamie Loback. Listen to the music of Corelli, Schoenberg, Rutter and Vivaldi with acclaimed Thirteen Strings musician John Geggie presenting a new seasonal work.

Hear the music of Haydn, Mozart and Bach, as well as Wolf-Ferrari, with guest conductor Bernhard Gueller (Symphony Nova Scotia) and guest pianist Ilya Poletaev, one of today’s most original and compelling artists, gracing the stage for “Galant! With Elegance and Poise” on February 23. This is Thirteen Strings’ wonderful panacea for Ottawa’s winter months.

Another Thirteen Strings music tradition marks its return with “The Way of the Cross” on March 30, the orchestra ensemble’s annual Good Friday concert. Listen to Vivaldi and Boccherini with spectacular guest artist soprano Nathalie Paulin.

Perhaps the highlight of this season, “The Subject is Light 1718-1918-2018,” on May 4, sees the orchestra pairing with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to present an “eye” journey: first with the works of Bach and Handel, who both suffered eye problems and turned to Chevalier John Taylor for help. Be in the audience to witness what then happened in 1718.

Continuing the timeline, the CNIB was created in 1918 to help returning blind war veterans. Aptly, Thirteen Strings will perform Sir Ernest Macmillan’s work. He was a prisoner of war.

Finally, the orchestra celebrates the centenary of CNIB – 2018 – by performing the work of the winner of the Thirteen Strings/UOttawa Composition Prize. The lightness of an approaching summer is evident with “Sunday Afternoon at the Opera” on June 3, when violinist Alexandre Da Costa returns by popular demand to play opera favourites by Handel, Bizet, Mozart and Wagner. Bring on the strawberries and cream.

Thirteen Strings is working hard to present a superb season and wants you at Dominion-Chalmers in October. To make things easier, one free concert ticket voucher (except for the December and March concerts) will be issued to everyone buying a full season subscription to all six concerts. Please visit thirteenstrings.ca/shop for details or call 613-738-7888.