≈ 2 hours · With intermission
I fondly remember a post-concert conversation over a glass of wine with my friend, tonight’s soloist Miloš Karadaglić, as we mused on the idea of commissioning the extraordinary Howard Shore to write a guitar concerto for us and the NAC Orchestra. Having not the slightest idea whether the suggestion would inspire this great composer, we simply reached out and asked. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…
And here we are! What a thrill to be giving the world premiere performances of this new concerto in Ottawa this week. A winner of three Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and four GRAMMY® Awards, Howard is a true Canadian legend and I am honoured and proud that we can be the first to share in his latest creation.
Howard Shore is a gentleman and a true master. I have for many years been fascinated by his insanely imaginative soundtracks and classical compositions. I still find it hard to believe that he wrote a piece for me... I am indeed the luckiest “plucker” in the world!
The work is magical, just like the enchanted forest Howard wanted to paint with his unique musical brushstrokes. The first time I heard the piece, I was moved by the honest simplicity of its harmonies, idiomatic writing and incredibly programmatic nature that makes you instantly dream up so many colours and sceneries in your head. I have been struck by how masterfully, through the texture of the sound he creates, amongst so many shades of musical colour, he discretely interweaves a net of various echoes from my own homeland. Montenegro and its dark forests have been an inspiration to Howard and myself from the beginning. I have been counting the days until this wonderful dream we share becomes reality.
Last updated: April 23, 2019
This is the first time the NAC Orchestra has performed Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s Overture in C major.
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This is the world premiere of Canadian composer Howard Shore’s The Forest, a concerto commissioned by Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra, written for classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić.
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In 1982, Günther Herbig was on the podium for the NAC Orchestra’s first performance of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1. Their most recent performance took place in 2015 under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman.
I. Un poco sostenuto – Allegro
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
IV. Adagio – Allegro non troppo ma con brio
In 1862 Clara Schumann received from Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) a sketch for the first movement of a symphony. The music “is rather tough,” she reported to a friend, “but I soon got used to it.” As Clara knew, the musical world was waiting for a symphony from Brahms. As it turned out, the world had to wait until 1876 to hear it.
In its final form the First Symphony begins with a towering tragic introduction, grounded on the throbbing timpani that was the Brahmsian fate-motif. Then begins a driving “Allegro” whose churning intensity never flags.
In form, the second movement is a conventional ABA “Andante,” but the voice is inimitably Brahms in its lyricism and intimacy. Instead of the usual scherzo, next comes a kind of symphonic movement that he invented, a blithe and breezy “intermezzo.”
The finale completes the symphony’s course from darkness and tragedy to joy and triumph. It begins in a cloudy and searching C minor. The end of the search arrives in a burst of C major sunshine, with a soaring alpenhorn theme in the horn. That leads to the movement proper, founded on an unforgettable chorale melody. The coda is a sustained exaltation.
Program note by Jan Swafford
Composer Howard Shore has won three Academy Awards, four GRAMMYs® and three Golden Globes, as well as numerous critic and festival awards for his music. He has also been honoured with six Canadian Screen/Genie Awards for his work with David Cronenberg. He has scored over 80 films and La Cinematheque Francaise recently presented a retrospective of his work in Paris. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France and the recipient of Canada’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
Shore studied in Boston with the esteemed choral composer John Bavicchi. His opera, The Fly (2008) premiered at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris and at Los Angeles Opera. Other recent works include the piano concerto Ruin and Memory for Lang Lang (2010), the song cycle A Palace Upon the Ruins featuring mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano (2014), the cello concerto Mythic Gardens featuring Sophie Shao (2012), Fanfare for the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia (2008), Sea to Sea (2017) in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, and the song cycle L’Aube which was premiered in October 2017, performed by Susan Platts and commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 2018 saw the premiere performance of Shore’s Latin Mass for the Hof Church in Lucerne, Switzerland.