2019-05-24 18:00 2019-05-24 20:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Canada’s NAC Orchestra in Stockholm


Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra continues its 50th Anniversary European Tour, led by renowned Music Director Alexander Shelley, in Stockholm.  Since becoming Music Director of the NAC Orchestra, Maclean‘s has credited Shelley for turning the orchestra “almost overnight… into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.” The NAC Orchestra offers a dazzling program at the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The beautiful program opens with...

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Fri, May 24, 2019
Konserthuset Stockholm Sweden



Lonely Child

Born in Montreal, April 14, 1948
Died in Paris, March 7, 1983

When Quebec composer Claude Vivier was murdered in his Paris apartment at the age of 34, he was already highly regarded as one of Canada’s most important composers. Since that time Vivier’s reputation has taken on almost mythic proportions, and his music continues to be performed with a regularity seldom seen in contemporary composers. Following the announcement of Vivier’s death, critic and musicologist Harry Halbreich wrote in Harmonie-Panorama Musique that “his music really resembles no other, and he puts himself right on the fringe of all trends. His music, of a direct and disruptive expression, could bewilder only those hard-hearted people who are unfit to categorize this independent man of genius. Claude Vivier found what so many others have sought for, and still seek: the secret of a truly new simplicity.”

Vivier studied in Montreal, then in Holland, France and Germany. A deep affection for Asian cultures led him to an extended stay in Bali, whose music influenced his own. A fascination with plainchant deriving from his Catholic upbringing and an abiding concern with death and immortality also coloured his music. At the time of his own death he was writing a choral piece called Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele? (Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?) In the preface to the published score of Lonely Child, Jaco Mijnheer writes: “The music of Claude Vivier is a reflection of his personal life.… Both directly and indirectly, the themes of his compositions were inspired by his unknown family origins, his search for his mother, his religious vocation, his homosexuality and even his premature death. The 49 works composed during his brief career comprise the impressive legacy of an individual as passionate about life as he was about music.”

Vivier composed Lonely Child in 1980 on commission from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Serge Garant conducted the premiere the following year with the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra and soprano Marie‑Danielle Parent. The score is dedicated to the singer Louise André, a teacher at the Université de Montréal. Lonely Child is generally regarded as Vivier’s first mature work. The 20-minute composition is framed by similar purely instrumental passages, from which its melodic material is derived. 

Vivier wrote the instrumental component first, then superimposed the text, which is mostly in French but incorporates also words from the composer’s own invented language derived from Malaysian and other languages Vivier spoke. As well as being Vivier’s first mature work, Lonely Child is also his first composition to utilize his “colours,” which Mijnheer describes as “harmonic spectra produced through the addition of frequencies.… In these ‘colours,’… the distinction between harmony and timbre disappears: the different instruments are barely discernible individually, but rather melt into the sound of the orchestra that, as such, becomes one immense instrument of colours.”

The text begins: “Beauteous child of light, sleep… forever sleep,” and ends: “Beyond time, my child appears, the stars in the sky are shining for you, Tazio, and will love you forever and ever.” It is obviously a message sung vicariously by the composer to the child of the work’s title. Vivier the orphan, Vivier the lost soul, Vivier the lonely child, is attempting, in his own words, “to reach this voice of the lonely child desiring to embrace the world with naïve love – this voice that all hear and want to dwell in forever.”

— Program notes by Robert Markow


Violin Concerto

Born in Hamburg, February 3, 1809 
Died in Leipzig, November 4, 1847

The facility, polish and effortless grace found in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto totally belie the creator’s struggle to compose it. This enormously popular concerto, Mendelssohn’s last major composition, occupied him for over five years (1838–1844), during which he carried on a lively exchange of ideas about the structural and technical details with the concerto’s dedicatee, violinist Ferdinand David (1810–1873). When Mendelssohn became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, he instated David as his concertmaster. At the concerto’s premiere on March 13, 1845, David was of course the soloist.  

Mendelssohn, trained in the classical tradition, nevertheless possessed a romantic streak which manifested itself in the poetic fantasy that infuses his music, and in the liberties he took with regard to formal construction. For example, there is no opening orchestral introduction. The soloist enters with the main theme almost immediately. All three movements are joined, with no formal pauses to break the flow. A cadenza, which normally would appear near the end of a concerto’s first movement, in this work is placed before, not after, the recapitulation.

The term “well-bred” is often invoked to describe this concerto, and it is nowhere more appropriate than in describing the quiet rapture and poetic beauty of the second movement’s principal theme. A moment of sweet melancholy in A minor intrudes briefly, with trumpets and timpani adding a touch of agitation. The principal theme then returns in varied repetition, and a gently yearning passage, again in A minor, leads to the finale. As in the two previous movements, the soloist announces the principal theme, one of elfin lightness and gaiety.

– Program note by Robert Markow


Symphony No. 2


  • Conductor Alexander Shelley
  • Soprano Erin Wall
  • Violin James Ehnes