Tonight May 31st and tomorrow June 1st at Westminster United Church at 7:30 pm, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra welcomes back to Winnipeg the marvelous Canadian horn player James Sommerville. Currently serving as the principal horn with the Boston symphony Orchestra, Sommerville has also established himself as one of the pre-eminent horn players in the world.
The concert tonight and tomorrow with the MCO will feature Sommerville playing not one… but two horn concertos. He will be performing Mozart’s 3rd horn concerto as well as a brand new concerto written for him by Canadian composer Kati Agocs.
Mozart wrote four horn concertos and they were all written for a family friend by the name of Ignaz Leutgeb. By the time Mozart composed the third horn concertos, Leutgeb had partially retired from playing the horn, and Mozart lured him out of retirement with the third horn concerto. “The earlier concertos are much more florid, and high and virtuosic…where this one sits more in the melodic middle register of the horn. It's also very chromatic...it’s got a little bit more harmonic experimentation,” states Sommerville.
Mozart’s third horn concerto was the jumping off point for Canadian composer Kati Agocs new horn concerto written for Sommerville. Agocs uses the same orchestration as the Mozart concerto; strings with pairs of clarinets and bassoons. Agocs however creates some new sounds using the same instruments. One of the clarinet players switches to bass clarinet, and one of the bassoon players plays contra bassoon. There is also much more delicate and independent writing for the strings.
Sommerville is thrilled to be back performing with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and is really looking forward to conducting a couple of piece for string orchestra. Respighi’s third Ancient Airs and Dances Suite will be performed, as well as some of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes that have been arranged for string ensemble. As Sommerville states,”The core of the MCO is really the string players, and it’s such a great group. It really feels like a big chamber ensemble on stage.”
This is going to be a fabulous concert that features one of Canada’s truly great musicians, James Sommerville. For tickets go to the MCO’s website.