On Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30 at The Crescent Arts Centre, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra will be presenting their eighth concert of their 2023-24 season.

Featuring music of Schubert, the wonderful Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, and the Canadian-Jamaican composer Ted Runcie, the MCO will be led by all-star Canadian conductor Jean Marie-Zeitouni.

One of the highlights of the concert is that the MCO will give the world premiere performance of a Cello Concertino by composer Ted Runcie for the Principal Cellist of MCO Desiree Abbey

For those unfamiliar with Desiree Abbey, she has performed as principal cellist with the MCO for many years. She holds a Masters in Music from the Mannes’ New School for Music in New in New York. She got her Bachelor’s Degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she won the Concerto Competition there, and had the opportunity to perform as soloist with the CIM Orchestra. Currently she resides in Ottawa where she teaches and performs as an extra musician with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Ted Runcie’s Concertino for cello was written on a commission from the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. They had approached Abbey with the idea of having a piece written for her, and asked if she had any composers in mind that she would want to work with. Abbey’s husband is Chris Lee who was the Principal Tubist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and is now playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. It was through her husband that she met Ted Runcie. As she explains, “I had met Ted recently through my husband during the pandemic. Chris and he went to McGill together…and so during the pandemic we had to find things to do, so my husband and I created a duo, ‘Duo Tubello’. We arranged some of Ted’s work...his music spoke to me, I enjoyed the melodic nature and the passionate driven nature of the music.”

When speaking of the Concertino, Abbey describes the concerto as simply “Awesome.”  As she describes it, “The first movement is a very clear ABA form…in the second movement there is lots of song …there is this lilting dance section. It’s a cool off-kilter 5/8 dance song. The finale has themes that come back...things that the listener can latch onto.”

Also on the MCO’s program, they will be performing music of Perteris Vasks, his beautifully haunting piece called, Viatore which means Traveler. The work encapsulates life as Vasks says of the piece,

“It tells the story of a wanderer who arrives in this world, grows up in it, develops, falls in love, fills himself up and then departs,” he has written. “The journey is illuminated by the endless and starry universe. This composition is in one movement but is made up of two sound images. The theme of the traveler is subject to growth and development. The theme of eternity, however, does not change and it played pianissimo. Viatore is dedicated to Arvo Pärt, who has been my guiding light for many decades.”

The MCO will also be doing a string orchestra arrangement of Schubert’s Sting Quintet. This is an arrangement that has been done by the conductor of the concert Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Abbey will be performing alongside her colleagues in the MCO in the Schubert. As to how it works for string orchestra she says, “It’s really cool! He’s [Zeitouni] done some creative things to spice it up in certain ways, so it’s just all of us playing all the time. He has made some decisions as to thing that will transform it within that larger context.”

The concert on, Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30 at The Crescent Arts Centre, with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra promises to be a truly remarkable concert.

For more details visit the MCO’s website.