Memorable music in the month of May

York University’s Department of Music will bring the academic year to a melodious close with a series of  midday and evening classical concerts in the second half of May.

Professor Jacques Israelievitch, an internationally renowned violinist and former concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducts the York University Symphony Orchestra in its end-of-term concert Thursday, May 14 at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, 112 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

Left: Jacques Israelievitch conducting at the Glenn Gould Studio. Photo courtesy of Glenn Gould Studio.

Third-year soprano Athina Babayan and fourth-year pianist Ian Uhlir won the opportunity to perform with the symphony as soloists in an adjudicated competition last semester.

Babayan will sing Una voce poco fa from Gioachino Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville, an aria which landed her a first place award at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Ontario chapter auditions last November. Uhlir will play the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15.

Also on the program is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, written at the height of the composer’s career, and the Hungarian March, an orchestral setting of a popular Hungarian folk tune from Hector Berlioz’s concert opera The Damnation of Faust.

The 55 members of the symphony come from all areas of the York student body: undergraduate music majors and minors, graduate students from the department and non-music students.

The following afternoon, Friday, May 15, Opera Buffa will delight audiences at 2:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall.

This free recital takes its title from the genre of comic Italian operas popular in the 18th century. Director and York instructor Stephanie Bogle’s Staging & Movement for Classical Singers class will perform excerpts of three of the best-known and best-loved works in the genre – Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Haydn’s La Cantarina and Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

Music department instructor and pianist Raisa Nakhmanovich is the musical director of the show. Set and costumes devised by the performers will augment the glorious singing by the rising young artists in York’s classical vocal performance program. Graduate student Karen Millyard from the Department of Dance has assisted in staging a Viennese waltz for a ballroom scene in Die Fledermaus.

Right: Raisa Nakhmanovich

Bringing music much closer to home in terms of both geography and history is the York University Wind Symphony, which takes the stage in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall on Thursday, May 21 at 7:30pm. Professor William Thomas directs the band in American Favourites, a program of seven classic works by eminent American composers.

The 70 symphony members, playing woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, will be joined by special guests, the York University Percussion Ensemble, directed by York instructor John Brownell.

The program features William Schuman’s Chester Overture, Aaron Copland’s Down a Country Lane and The Promise of Living, Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, John Williams’ Catch Me If You Can (featuring student soloist Jessica Puskar on the alto saxophone), Dana Wilson’s Sang! and John Philip Sousa’s American anthem, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

May also brings a host of midday performances. Mike Cadó’s York Soul Collective appeared May 12 in the Martin Family Lounge and will play again Friday, May 22 at 8pm in the Wingers Junior Common Room, 012 Winters College. The Brass Ensemble directed by James MacDonald performed May 11 in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall.

Left: Mike Cadó

Also taking place in the recital hall are concerts by the Baroque Ensemble directed by Professor Mark Chambers, May 19 at 12:30pm, followed by the Medieval and Renaissance Ensemble led by Professor Judith Cohen at 1:30pm the same day. The Master Class for Winds concert, directed by Professor Patricia Wait, features student soloists in works for flute and clarinet accompanied by pianist Susan Black on May 20 at 12:30pm. Bringing the series to a close are the York University Chamber Strings directed by instructor Peggy Hills, May 21 at 12:30pm.

All midday performances are free. For tickets to the evening shows call the Fine Arts Box Office at 416-736-5888.