The University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra dives headfirst into a program of fiery, forceful and exciting German repertoire paired alongside a brand-new work by a student composer.
“This whole program ties itself together in, what I termed, ‘Forward unto Dawn,’ the title of the program” says UMSO Music Director Chen. “Going from some very dark places (musically)... but really going forwards toward a more optimistic ending.”
The first-year RBC Assistant Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Sistema Winnipeg Music Director took the UMSO podium at the start of the school year and has been enjoying the experience thus far.
“It’s been really fantastic,” says Chen.
The program begins with Desautels Faculty of Music student Kelsen Hadder’s “The World Has Not Ended” – a works that explores the idea of nihilism.
“I find that in our present world there’s a lot of conflict,” says Hadder.
Noting the economic, social and environmental struggles experienced by many though, perhaps, felt most keenly by young adults, there is a sort of “doom and gloom” mentality that has become pervasive in society, explains Hadder.
“There is this kind of persistent nihilism that I find is antithetical to making positive change,” he explains. “If you are constantly in this despair, if you’re consumed by it, you’re not going to be able to work towards positive change.”
The work grapples with the concept by pitting two themes in dialogue with and against one another – nihilism and hope – with a cautious optimism winning out.
Another student at the Desautels Faculty of Music who features prominently on the program is pianist Fan-En Chiang.
Currently pursuing a Masters’ degree in piano performance, the 25-year-old Taiwanese/Canadian musician and composer tackles the Mendelssohn Piano Concert no. 1 in G minor, Op. 25.
“Playing Mendelssohn is much different than playing Beethoven,” explains Chiang.
Rather than a strength and stamina often demanded in the latter, Mendelssohn requires a deft touch and fleet fingers, according to Chiang.
“The challenge is to play without trying too hard.”
Rounding out the program is the Robert Schumann Symphony no. 4 in D minor, Op. 120.
The concert takes place on Wednesday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Westworth United Church (1750 Grosvenor Avenue).
Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance, or with cash at the door the day of the show.