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Concertmaster Gwen Hoebig has won every major Canadian music competition—and that’s before she even went pro. After completing her education at Juilliard, the virtuoso went on to win the top prize at the Munich International Violin Competition and a Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation. So it’s safe to say that Hoebig, accompanied by the Winnipeg Symphony, is well prepared to handle the Spanish tang and sunny melodies of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole; will guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen be leading her, or the other way around?
- An-Lun Huang—Saibei Dance: Before he was the prolific, Ontario-based composer he is today, An-Lun Huang was a child in the middle of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. While his mother and father were jailed, Huang was forced out of the university and into the rice fields. But that was where the composer, while communing with the peasants of China, first heard their traditional music—an experience that would profoundly influence his later work, especially the Saibei Suite.
- Lalo—Symphonie Espagnole: Édouard Lalo was born in northern France, but his career didn’t come into its own until he began writing in the Spanish style—a change inspired by violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. In Symphonie Espagnole, a solo violin and flourishes of Spanish duplet and triplet melodies underline the effect this influence had upon him.
- Sibelius—Symphony No. 5 in E-Flat Major: Commissioned by the Finnish government in honor of the composer’s own birthday—a national holiday—Sibelius filled this romantic, three-movement symphony with the rich melodies that had become his signature sound, as well as a movement where each musician must stand up and give him a present.
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
As early as 1880, the prairies of Winnipeg were filled with music. Orchestras, both amateur and semi-professional, unleashed their cultural impact on the city, with nearly 30 formed between the late 19th century and 1947. But they weren't content with their small scale, and in 1944, at least 20 smaller organizations joined forces to form the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, sharing talent, passion, and answers for their conductors pop quizzes. Within a decade, the CBC began broadcasting WSO concerts, and by 1990, the orchestra had more than 10,000 subscribers.