2019-05-01 20:00 2019-05-02 22:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Miloš Performs Howard Shore


*** CONCERT EXPERIENCE INCLUDES A PRE-CONCERT TALK WITH HOST PAUL WELLS AND HOWARD SHORE *** This unforgettable evening features the debut of Miloš Karadaglić performing the world premiere of Canadian composer Howard Shore’s Guitar Concerto – commissioned by Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra especially for the superstar Montenegrin guitarist. Shore is revered worldwide for his film work, including his score for the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy and his many...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
May 1 - 2, 2019

≈ 2 hours · With intermission

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Last updated: April 23, 2019


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. 

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.


Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

Overture in C major

Born in Hamburg, November 14, 1805
Died in Berlin, May 17, 1847

Like her younger brother Felix, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel was a highly accomplished pianist and a fine composer as well. If her skill as a composer was not quite on the level of Felix’s, Fanny was still one of the foremost female composers of the nineteenth century; but being a woman, her talents and abilities were not acknowledged on the same scale as her male counterparts. Even her own brother discouraged her from publishing her compositions on the grounds that this was not a suitable occupation for a nice young lady. 

At the age of seventeen she fell in love with a painter named Wilhelm Hensel, but much like Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, parental disapproval kept them apart and made marriage difficult. Only six years after they fell in love did they marry, and that was when Hensel became curator of a huge art collection. The marriage was a happy one, but Fanny died young, succumbing to a massive stroke at the age of 41. Felix was so distraught that his own death followed six months later, due certainly in part to grief over the death of his beloved sister.

Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s output was considerable, consisting mostly of songs, piano pieces and chamber music. The overture on tonight’s program is her sole purely orchestral composition (there also exist some choral and vocal works with orchestra). It was written probably sometime between 1830 and 1832, and published only in 1994 by Furore-Edition in Kassel, Germany. 

The ten-minute Overture conforms closely to most other works of its kind by Schubert, Weber, Schumann, or Felix Mendelssohn. It opens with a slow introduction (“not so much starting as awakening,” as one commentator put it). This leads into the Allegro di molto main section, laid out in standard sonata form with two principal themes (the first energetic, the second flowing and songlike, both presented by violins), a development section, recapitulation, and majestic coda.

— Program notes by Robert Markow

Howard Shore

The Forest: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra*

Born in Toronto, October 18, 1946
Now living in New York City

Howard Shore writes his music from his place in the forest where he lives surrounded by nature. His music is influenced by this environment. Here, The Forest refers to the importance of developing and maintaining a relationship with the natural world. “I live in a place where I am encompassed by things that grow and bloom and fade. It is everchanging. It is always striving for equilibrium and harmony. I find this interconnectedness and interdependency inspiring,” Shore said. “These are ideas I carry with me and are often the source from which I express my musical ideas. Enjoy the beauty of the solo guitar, the orchestra and the virtuosity of Miloš and Maestro Shelley’s artistry.”

Shore’s latest concert work, commissioned by the NAC Orchestra’s Music Director Alexander Shelley and receiving its world premiere this week, is a concerto for guitarist Miloš Karadaglić. “At turns elegiac, wistful, tuneful and virtuosic, it is a fabulous work in the tradition of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez,” comments Shelley.

The 21-minute work is in three movements, which may be separated by pauses at the maestro’s discretion. Asked if his concerto bears stylistic similarity to his famous film scores, Shore replied, “No, but I’ve incorporated a few surprises, including at one point an allusion to Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, so beloved by many.”

Like Wolfgang Korngold, Bernard Herrmann and Miklós Rózsa in an earlier age, Shore has composed concert music as well as music for film. The gorgeous and subtle effects Shore draws from his percussion section may bring to mind the late Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu, whose career successfully combined the worlds of concert and film music.

The film The Song of Names, directed by François Girard and featuring Shore’s score and the violin virtuoso Ray Chen, will premiere in the fall.

* NAC commission, world premiere May 1, 2019

— Program notes by Howard Shore


Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68

I. Un poco sostenuto – Allegro
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
IV. Adagio – Più andante – Allegro non troppo ma con brio

Brahms (1833–1897) began sketching his First Symphony in 1855, when he was 22, but did not complete it until 1876, when he was 43—so prestigious and intimidating was the legacy of Beethoven’s nine symphonies. (“You don’t know what it’s like to be dogged by his footsteps,” he remarked.) Brahms’s First earned much acclaim, and, coming late in a century dominated by radicals like Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, was a coup for those who defended the validity of the old forms. (Hans von Bülow proclaimed it “the Tenth.”) Yet, despite its bows to Classical models (like the four-movement plan), it was a deeply personal work founded on an original kind of symphonic technique: the forging of a dense, unified structure through intensive development of short, germinal melodic and rhythmic motifs. Arnold Schoenberg coined the term “developing variation” for this practice, and insisted that the purportedly “academic” Brahms was in fact the most progressive composer of his day.

The mighty slow introduction establishes the serious, even tragic tone of the first movement, and the subsequent Allegro, with its Beethovenian rhythmic drive, has the character of a dark, anguished scherzo (minor keys are unusually prominent). In the slow movement, which follows like sunshine after a storm, several themes are given out in sequence, so seamlessly that the music unfolds as a single outpouring of melody, growing ever more intense and passionate and finally attaining real pathos. For the third movement, in place of a minuet or scherzo, Brahms wrote one of those gentle, glowing pastorales that would become his trademark, though he retained the conventional three-part (ABA) minuet-and-trio form.

In the slow introduction to the finale, a majestic horn theme (like an Alpine shepherd’s call) and a chorale-like melody in the brass seem to call for resolution, and the Allegro that follows begins with a moving, hymn-like melody (strings) that resembles the “Ode to Joy” of Beethoven’s Ninth. (When someone said so to Brahms, he famously replied that “any jackass” could see that. Indeed, it was a performance of the Ninth that had first got him thinking, at 21, about writing a symphony.) The finale is not without surprises (including the return of the “Alpine” horn theme), or moments of darkness and unease, but they pass. In a faster coda, the main Allegro theme joined by the “chorale” from the introduction, the symphony comes triumphantly to a close.

Program note by Kevin Bazzana


  • conductor Alexander Shelley
  • milos-2017-meylaniegomezphotography-4
    classical guitar Miloš Karadaglić
  • howard-shore-1
    composer Howard Shore

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