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Bryan Cheng Forges His Own Way with a Well-Loved Classic

Attending open rehearsals is one of the many benefits donors receive when they support performance, creation and learning across Canada through the National Arts Centre Foundation.

On the morning of Wednesday January 29, Ottawa-born and raised cellist Bryan Cheng returned to Southam Hall, delighting National Arts Centre Foundation supporters during an open rehearsal with the NAC Orchestra. Bryan enraptured the audience with his moving rendition of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, under the baton of esteemed conductor emeritus of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Peter Oundjian.

Bryan has a long history with the NAC Orchestra. In 2008 he made his debut when he played on a Family Adventures concert and at 18 he was the 2016 recipient of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Bursary Competition. He was welcomed back to his roots with warm applause when he greeted the audience for the intermission chat. Bryan shared with them that he considered the NAC Orchestra to be like family, and certainly there were many hugs and congratulations backstage after the rehearsal.

NAC Foundation donors were eager to ask Bryan questions about his extraordinary rehearsal of Elgar. One asked how long it took him to memorize the piece. Bryan revealed that he had it memorized by the time he was 10…it is such a famous piece that he knew it even before he played it!

Bryan conveyed a range of feelings throughout the performance. He told the audience that Elgar marked very clearly in the score where he wanted emotion, and that while there are many well-regarded interpretations of the concerto, Bryan wanted to forge his own way by creating something new.

When asked what happens when the soloist and the conductor have differing interpretations, Bryan said that this was his first collaboration with Peter Oundjian, who is flexible in his opinions. Supporters of the NAC Foundation who attended the open rehearsal were among the first to hear how together with the NAC Orchestra, Bryan and Maestro Oundjian created something fresh and wonderful from a well-loved classic.

A special thank you to our Open Rehearsal and Preview Sponsor, Rob Marland and Jane Forsyth of Royal LePage Performance Marland Realty, who makes these sessions possible for NAC Foundation donors.

Join more than 6,500 champions of performance, creation and learning by supporting Canadian artists, educators and students through the NAC Foundation.


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