This Sunday, March 13th at 3:00pm at the Lutheran Church of the Cross the Mennonite Community Orchestra will be performing a concert that they are calling “The Power of Conversation.”

Featuring the music of Liszt, Schumann, and a Winnipeg premiere of a terrific Symphony by the Danish composer Niels Gade, this concert will feature pianist Anna Schwartz in a performance of the first movement to Schumann’s A Minor piano concerto.

The centerpiece of the program is Gade’s Symphony no 3. This is a work that has never been heard in Winnipeg and was new to Orchestra conductor Andrea Bell. “I was super thrilled to have us do the Gade… I just love it! I did not know it at all, and I am a big fan now… I absolutely love it. It just flows, and it’s got exciting parts and beautiful, gorgeous melodies. It is very fun to play,” says Bell.

Anna Schwartz is a piano and composition student at Canadian Mennonite University. (CMU) In March of 2022 she won the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition that is held every year at CMU. One of the parts of the prize package is that the winner gets to perform with a symphony orchestra. As Schwartz explains, “It’s so exciting and meaningful for me to be a soloist this year. I’m graduating from CMU this year so it’s a real culmination of a lot of things that I have worked on and worked towards in my degree.”

Schwarz has been working on the Schumann Concerto for about eight months and it has been a true learning experience navigating the new elements that are brought into the equation when performing with orchestra. “One of the biggest things in the Schumann is how melodic it is in the piano and the orchestra. One of the things that I have been working at a lot is bringing out the melody… the differences between when I am by myself and playing the melody as opposed to when the orchestra is playing, and also there is the question of ‘what do I do when the orchestra has the melody and I am playing underneath’…there are all of these components to think about,” says Schwartz.


Music of Liszt will also be heard on Sunday’s program. They will be performing Liszt’s 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody for Orchestra. As Bell says, “It is so much fun to conduct and it certainly keeps you on your toes…but the orchestra sounds amazing and I am just so excited to be working with them, and I think everyone is having lots of fun with that one because it is just so fun and famous, it’s kind of hard not to love it.”

Liam Berry is a Winnipeg composer who has written music for video games and won awards for film scoring. The Mennonite Community Orchestra will also be performing one of his pieces on Sunday’s program. Schwartz is a friend and colleague of Berry’s and she describes his music as being very tonal with long melodic lines “There is this sonority of sound throughout the piece that is really fantastic, “ says Schwartz.

The concert “Power of Conversation” this Sunday at 3:00pm at The Lutheran Church of the Cross with the Mennonite Community Orchestra is sure to entertain and engage audiences. Tickets are available at the door or from Orchestra members, for more details check out the Mennonite Community Orchestra’s website.