2017-18 Program Notes: Ode To Joy – Beethoven 9

Concert Program

Barbara Croall
Mijidwewinan
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Symphony No.9 in D minor, op.125, Choral
I. Allegro ma non troppo; un poco maestoso
II. Molto vivace
III. Adagio molto e cantabile
IV. Presto – Allegro assai – Allegro assai vivace

Program Notes

“My music is very different from Beethoven of course, and I feel very humbled to be programmed next to such a monumental work, and I love Beethoven’s music.   I read over the German text for the Choral Symphony and the emphasis on the word ‘Freude’ (joy).  We have an expression in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe/Odawa), ‘apane onaniigwendanda’ (‘let us always be joyful’), which the Elders in my family and community have always talked about as a way of being hopeful, no matter how dire our circumstances.  My own mother and her siblings are residential school survivors, and I truly believe that their sense of joy, laughter and humour is what enabled them to come through some very terrifying, horrible, and hurtful childhood experiences.  So, there is a connection here, I think, and especially for the youth in our communities who are feeling the weight of colonial history, yet, in going back to the traditions, are leading the way forward as the ‘Eighth Fire’ generation.”

Barbara Croall

BARBARA CROALL (b. 1966)   

Mijidwewinan (Messages) for symphony orchestra and Anishinaabekwe performer (2009)

Barbara Croall writes:

This work for symphony orchestra and Anishinaabe performer (vocalist and traditional flutist), with Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe/Odawa) text and original songs in traditional Anishinaabekwe way also by Barbara Croall, represents a ‘calling out’ or ‘crying out’ of the voices of nature and creation.

As experienced through Anishinaabe ceremonies, such as makadekewinan (‘fasting’, among others), many of us receive important messages, visions, and healing through ceremony in which our awareness of spirit is heightened and vivid through all of our senses. Sacred sites on Turtle Island (North America), such as petroforms and petroglyphs where we have had traditional ceremonies for many centuries which were outlawed by the Canadian federal government during the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, these ceremonies continue today, and are based on the visions of our medicine people long ago who laid these out on the ground at specific locations where star positions are reflected down below—through the placement of rocks and content of etchings and paintings on rocks. Some Anishinaabeg who are Midewiwin (following the ‘heart way’) have received the gift of prophecy through this experience. The current distress of our Mother Earth is something which the Ancient Ones already predicted long ago.

The Anishinaabe performer represents a woman (ikwe) in changeable guises – an ancient spirit (Mindemoyenh / ‘Old Woman’), a mother (Winonah), the voice of different elements (wind, earth, fire, water) and types of birds (through the traditional cedar flute). She takes us through this journey under her guidance: from the appearance of Morning Star (Waabanang) through dawn, day, afternoon, dusk, evening and then transformatively in the appearance of Evening Star (Nigaabii-anang)—during a time the earth (aki) experiences a crisis and shift. Just as every aspect of nature gives us ‘messages’ about the problems caused by human negligence and wastefulness, the shining stars in the sky above us—like the most ancient of spirit-beings—provide answers for our future if we care to look and understand what they are telling us. In various ways, this transformative female spirit being serves as a conduit for the many voices of different creatures, elements and beings of the cosmos who are all-knowing and ‘crying out’ their warnings about what will happen to the earth, waters and skies through human negligence and wastefulness.

In this work for symphony orchestra, time passes through the span of a day in a ‘dream-time’ or ‘vision’ experience of time. In ten episodes, it follows the directions of the sun – something which is an important part of many First Nations ceremonies, including those of Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe / Pottowatomi / Odawa) peoples: beginning in complete darkness before the sun begins to rise, then moving through the gradual ascent and eventual gradual descent of the sun, as we return to darkness again at the end – but this time with the light of a multitude of stars shining down upon us from the sky world, signaling to us the ancient foreknowledge, wisdom and guidance contained in star patterns above that has always been available to us… about how to live in balance, below, here on earth.

We receive many different messages from the natural world around us. And as people, we are part of nature – if we are ‘intuned’ to this, then we understand the messages that nature gives us. When we assume we are above nature – to use it wastefully, control it and dominate it – we are disconnected from nature and ourselves. As a result of this, life on earth shifts out of balance and human-created problems can arise – including erratic weather patterns which impact all life forms. When speaking to Anishinaabeg Elders in my community about this, many of them have talked about the Great Turtle (North America is often referred to as Turtle Island) and how this earth-creature-spirit form has always rotated clockwise from the beginning of life on earth. But recently, with the state of imbalance, this Great Turtle is trying to make faster rotations, sweeps of its tail and other actions which stir the great waters (the oceans, which influence many different weather patterns globally) … to bring back the balance, and often resorting to drastic measures to do this. The previous Sunami in 2004 is often described as one of the Great Turtle’s tail sweeps. The different plates or sections on the back of the turtle (13 of them, representing the 13 moons in a lunar year – the basis of many indigenous calendars, combined with star knowledge) also shift along with the turtle’s rotations. When these shifts are faster and larger, the earth’s plates shift also (they have always done this, but now in a much more extreme way) and earthquakes, mudslides, erosions happen … and then other inter-connected events and chains of events also occur.

In Mijidwewinan (Messages), the musicians and Anishinaabe performer are often playing in unusual ways and using their voices to emulate the sounds and messages uttered by nature around us – such as the wind (‘breath spirit’ of life), birds (the feathered ones), animals, insects – and the ancient ‘spirit voices’, often speaking in the same way, but also in sounds, words and phrases of the Ojibwe/Odawa language (which in many ways bear meaning in the sounds – known to the Greeks as being onomatopoeic). In Anishinaabemowin, the word for drum (o’dewe’igan) contains and combines different root/particle words – for heart or heartbeat, sound or vibration (one form of medicine), object or instrument (which makes this sound). And many words for aspects of nature are meaningfully descriptive in their sound.

 

The ten episodes of Mijidwewinan (Messages) are as follows:

I: Mewinzha … (A Long Time Ago …)

We begin in complete darkness, with the whisperings of a multitude of ancient spirit voices speaking softly to us while the earth gently vibrates and we hear the phrases of voices punctuated by ethereal drum beats (pulse of the earth’s heartbeat and ancestral drum sounds) echoing, like how drum calling (call and response) is done across the surface of a calm lake. An ancient Grandmother (Mindemoyenh/Old Woman) voice speaks in Ojibwe about how things were in the beginning, how the drum came to be and how the heartbeat of the earth resonates through all of us.

II: Biidaaban (First Light of Dawn)

Here the first bit of light emerges from the previous darkness, but we still do not see the sun itself. The heart beat speeds up, then establishes a steady beat, then shifts again to different speeds – a sense of anticipation for the coming dawn and a gradual emergence from deep ‘dream-world’ sleep. Low tones and sounds begin as slow ascension, moving upward and then pulsating with the coming light, as bright sky dancers welcome the morning of the world and a vocal chant is sung to greet the new day.

III: Waaban Noongom —  Baama’amoojig Bineshiyag — Gakina Maamawi Giniimimin

The arrival of the sun is a reason for celebration – it brings light and warmth to the world and it inspires us to dance. And we are taught how to dance on this earth by the rhythms and gestures of nature around us. And the light itself seems to dance. The birds in their footsteps and wing movements show us how to dance. And the head leader of the birds – the Thunderbird – joins in, sweeping down and then flying back upward. Out of these ‘swoops’ a high-pitched song emerges, eventually accompanied by the dancing feet of the bright sky dancers who wear bells on their ankles to created with this sound a summoning of the Animikiig (Thunderbeings) – a message to them to bring rain, the water of life – down to the earth. Drumming pulsates as we feel the presence of this powerful bird spirit.

Then we hear the summoning warning cry of the Eagle (played by Anishinaabe performer on cedar flute – emulating the sound of an Eagle Bone Whistle which invokes an eagle cry) to all of the birds of the forest. A ‘frenzy of birds’ follows as they respond to this message. As they depart, one strident and high pitched call of a bird cries out (on piano), then transforms into the sound a mechanical instrument of man: the chisel and hammer.

IV: 1st Mechanical Interruption (Metal on Metal)

The mechanically insistent pulsation of the iron worker’s hammer – metal on metal – like the beat of clockwork, not a heartbeat which fluctuates in time and rhythm. Keeping pace with the clock to get the job done. Anguished cries of pain emerging from below, yet ignored by the mechanical rhythm of the hammer. Progress at any cost. Time as measured by a machine, not by nature. No ebb and flow – only relentless ‘keeping in time’ to achieve production. Supply and demand.

V: Naawakwemagad — Gizhaasiged (It is Midday — The Sun Shines Hot)

The searing heat of mid-day sun. Unbearable brightness of light and its heat. Why does the sun shine so strongly and intense now? Dizzying heat makes us feel tired and sick. The birds are calling out about their suffering.The drum calling beat returns, but now with a sense of foreboding.

VI: Bangishimo Giizis (Falling Sun / Setting Sun)

Shakers announce the coming of dusk, as the sun begins to lower and the lingering heat remains. The many insects in the grasses are singing, but their blissful voices gradually transform to loud pulsations – just like the sound of shakers. Dissonant chords of anguish swell in and out, followed

by a Shaker Song about the snake and underworld beings that dwell deep in the core of the earth where it is also very hot. The sound of locusts emerges – they feed on the remaining plant foods and signal to us when draught is coming. The ‘spirit voices’ cry out “Fire!”. The Shaker Song continues, warning all of the animals to flee for safety.

VII: Ogidagammig (Upon the Surface of the Earth)

Ancient spirit beings sound their drums out in warning. The heated earth still vibrates even though nightfall is approaching and we feel another distant vibration emerging from this – what is it? Then, the pounding feet and hooves of many animals is heard as the drumming continues overtop, accompanied by a song which beckons the animals and tells them where to find safety.

VIII: 2nd Mechanical Interruption — The Mournful Cries of Winonah, Mother of Nenaboozhoo

Loud, crashing sounds of destruction (the instruments of man and war?) followed by painful cries of many different creatures on earth – Winonah, the first human-woman to dwell on earth, responds to their cries: she herself is suffering in pain and grief – yet still crying out in hope of an end to all of this.

IX: Gichi Giiwedinokwe … (Great North Wind Woman) … Miziwe Gashkadin

(Everywhere it Freezes Over)

The breath-spirit of life returns – this time in the guise of the Great North Wind, which is the strongest wind on earth and cools the fires, and clears away all sickness by cleansing the earth. But the fires are so hot, the breath of this wind-spirit blows stronger. The ocean-waters rise up then

settle again, then freeze. As night comes to the world, so does everything – everywhere – freeze up. A frozen world. No more signs of life. But the spirits are still awake, and the ancient Grandmother sings again – about a new beginning to come to earth, after a time of rest and healing through

the ‘frozen time’.

X: Miziwe Anangooka — Kagige Bimaadiziwin (Everywhere There Are Stars — Eternal Life)

A chorus of whispering spirit voices returns – are these the multitude of stars in the sky speaking to us? The night sky is filled with stars shining down, bringing hope and light to the world. They are most ancient and lead us up toward the Pathway of Souls, high up in the sky world – where we all go after life in the physical world. This is also the place where we can travel to in our dream-sleep – to receive important sacred knowledge about how to live in balance on this earth. After a period of rest and sleep, life on earth will return again. In spirit sense, life hasn’t really ended – it just continues on in different ways beyond the physical form.

The sounds of the bells on the feet of the Spirit Dancers summons and leads us to look upward and receive the important messages that the stars have always given us. Some of us departing this earth and physical world, follow them and join them … disappearing into the expanse of night sky… maybe to transform into a star of shining light. Life through a period of healing and regeneration re-emerges and it continues…

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 9, in D minor (Choral), Op. 125 (1822-4)

Although Beethoven left school when he was just 13, he was a voracious reader, with a keen interest in the German classics.  He admired Goethe the most.  But in the poet and playwright Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), he recognised a deep affinity.  Both were preoccupied with the idea of universal brotherhood.  Beethoven first talked about setting Schiller’s 1785 Ode to Joy before he was 20 and included a brief portion of the poem in a cantata he wrote in 1790.  For the next 30 years, Schiller’s words were never very far from his mind.  They are found throughout his sketchbooks, often with thoroughly insignificant melodies attached.  Eventually his thoughts crystallised and Schiller’s ode An die Freude became the climax of a grand symphony with a choral finale.  His earliest sketches for this were in 1817-18.  Most of the work occupied him throughout 1822 until the fall of 1823, with additional fine-tuning taking place until February 1824.  The première was in Vienna May 7, 1824.

Always one to respect great verse, Beethoven nevertheless felt free to adapt material from about one half of the ode.  He rearranged it to fit his own needs, setting it to a symphonic theme, with variations and episodes in the manner of both his Choral Fantasy of 1808 and the Mass in D.  The new work was to be a symphony of conflict with a triumphant resolution.  A progression from darkness to light.  A humanist vision of utopian and even mystical ideals of brotherhood.  Schiller’s poetic vision would be united with his own musical vision to produce a work of even greater impact than either would have on its own.

THE MUSIC:  AN OVERVIEW

Traditional sonata-form is used, as usual for the first movement of a Beethoven symphony, with no repeat.  Then, a traditional scherzo, stretched with a fugato and double repeat.  Beethoven turns to serene contemplation in the slow movement variations.  Then, another set of variations, with episodes, for the finale – or a four-movement symphony-within-a-symphony, depending on how this monumental movement is analysed.  What’s different is the huge scale of everything, the deep, organic feeling of growth, of unity and the inevitability of the progression towards a culmination in song.

THE MUSIC:  IN MORE DETAIL

FIRST MOVEMENT

The opening is full of a sense of anticipation as the strings oscillate in hushed tones between A’s and E’s.  Has the music really begun?  What is the home key?  As the tension increases, crashing D minor chords announce that something monumental, dark and imposing is underway.  Everything about the traditional structure is radically rethought, with a surprise in every bar.  This is the only symphony by Beethoven with no repeat in its first movement.  Still, the music does appear to be returning to the opening when the hushed, repeated A’s and E’s return.  Then, ever so gradually, Beethoven eases in a major chord and it becomes a pivotal element throughout the central development section.  Here, Beethoven begins by juxtaposing and contrasting elements of the first theme, then treating them fugally.  In the extended coda, a dramatic, prolonged crescendo builds and builds towards a final blazing statement of the main theme.  This build-up and release of tension over a long timeframe is a device that Bruckner and Mahler were to explore throughout their symphonic masterpieces.

SECOND MOVEMENT

The electrifying opening of this scherzo contains the rhythmic catalyst for the entire vast movement.  At an immediate level, the music is fugal and densely worked out.  However, standing back from the drive and exuberance of Beethoven’s rhetoric, as in the first movement, war continues to be raged between the dominant home key tonality of D minor and the increasingly assertive D major.  The struggle will continue as the slow movement, often placed second in a symphony, now serves the function of paving the way into the clamour of the colossal finale.

THIRD MOVEMENT

As in the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony, two melodies alternate.  The first is noble, calm and hymn-like and the subject of increasingly elaborate variations as the movement proceeds.  The second is more flowing and lyrical.  Even two resonantly ringing fanfares and restless harmonic probing cannot change the cumulative effect of tranquillity and peace.

FOURTH MOVEMENT

By now, three of the four movements have been played; the conductor’s score, however, is still only half-way thumbed through.  The scale of the finale is immense.  The peace of the slow movement is shattered with a terrible racket.  It is a moment of apparent chaos – something that Wagner called a ‘Fanfare of Terror’ (Schrekensfanfare).  Cellos and basses angrily protest the din, summarily declaiming their point of view in a recitative.  This business-like, dramatic declamation is familiar from the world of opera and oratorio.  In 1824, its use in an orchestral work was unusual, though not without precedent.  The storm bursts out from the orchestra once more.  Again, the lower strings calm the waters.

Cellos and basses now aspire to vocal expression, offering recollections of the three earlier movements.  All are brusquely rejected.  A snatch of a calmer, more optimistic theme is suggested by the woodwinds.  The protest abates.  Cellos and basses help prepare the way for the new theme.  Then, as the fourth movement proper begins, the strings each take up the new melody of what will become the Ode to Joy, in hushed tones.  Winds and brass join in until rudely interrupted once more by the “Fanfare of Terror.”  Now a human voice proclaims “O friends, no more of these sounds!  Rather, let us tune our voices in a more pleasant and joyous song.”  The words are Beethoven’s own.  The joyful key of D major unequivocally asserts its dominance over the darker minor tonality.  The long path from darkness to light throughout the Ninth Symphony is now clearly illuminated.

As the music progresses, the huge finale mirrors the structure of the four-movement symphony itself, forming a symphony-within-a-symphony:

Allegro assai.                     D major.               Freude, schöne Götterfunken.

Alla marcia.                        B-flat major.       Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen.

Andante maestoso.        G major.              Seid umschlungen Millionen!

Allegro energico.              D major.               Freude, schöne Götterfunken, combined with Seidumschlungen Millionen!

With a blazing, affirmative conclusion, the orchestra alone ends the Ninth Symphony.

THE LEGACY

More than any other of his late works, the Ninth looks back over Beethoven’s entire creative life, gathering up all the threads of his career.  The scale of the Eroica, the conflict triumphantly resolved of the Fifth, the forceful, Titanic humour of the Seventh, the tenderness and grace of the Sixth are here combined on a new level of experience.

Its monumental scale cast a shadow over the rest of the 19th century and beyond.  The choral finales of Liszt’s Faust Symphony and Mahler’s Resurrection could not have been written without it.  Its sublime vision created a world of sound that was to alter the course of music.  Mahler took its choral element even further in his monumental Symphony of a Thousand, the first completely choral symphony.  Bruckner, too, was deeply influenced by the work and by its hushed, evocative opening.   Wagner argued that Beethoven had exhausted the potential of instrumental music and saw the Ninth as the gateway into his own world of music drama.

Although controversy reigned after its 1824 première, the work’s greatness was acknowledged, for all its idiosyncrasies.  Each generation has re-invented the Ninth in its own image.  The message of universal democracy in Schiller’s Ode to Joy (Freude), interpreted from the start as an “Ode to Freedom” (Freiheit), has been passed down through Beethoven to our own times.  The Ninth remains, even today, an Everest among symphonies.  It was chosen to celebrate Freedom when communism was overthrown in Czechoslovakia.  Its message of universal brotherhood rang out when the wall was torn down in Berlin.  The Ninth continues as a hymn of universal nationhood for the European Community.  When words alone failed to provide meaning, it was the transcendent beauty of the Ninth, with its clear image of a better world beyond, that we turned to after September 11th.

 

SCHILLER’S ODE TO JOY

BARITONE

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

Sondern lasst uns angenehmere

anstimmen, und freudenvollere!

BARITONE, QUARTET, AND CHORUS

Freude, Schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Deine Zauber binden wieder,

Was die Mode streng geteilt;

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,

Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,

Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,

Mische seinen Jubel ein!

Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele

Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!

Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle

Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen

An den Brüsten der Natur;

Alle Guten, alle Bösen

Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.

Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,

Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;

Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,

Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

TENOR SOLO AND CHORUS

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen

Durch des Himmels Pra”cht’gen Plan,

Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,

Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

CHORUS

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

Brüder über’m Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Such ihn über’m Sternenzelt!

Über Sternen muss er wohnen.

BARITONE

O friends, not these tones!

Let us raise our voices in more

pleasing and more joyful sound.

BARITONE, QUARTET, AND CHORUS

Joy, fair spark of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

Drunk with fiery rapture, Goddess,

We approach thy shrine!

Thy magic reunites those

Whom stern custom has parted;

All men become brothers

Under thy gentle wing.

May he who has had the fortune

To gain a true friend

And he who has won a noble wife

Join in our jubilation!

Yes, even if he calls but one soul

His own in all the world.

But he who has failed in this

Must steal away alone and in tears.

All the world’s creatures

Draw joy from nature’s breast;

Both the good and the evil

Follow her rose-strewn path.

She gave us kisses and wine

And a friend loyal unto death;

She gave lust for life to the lowliest,

And the Cherub stands before God.

TENOR SOLO AND CHORUS

Joyously, as his suns speed

Through Heaven’s glorious order,

Hasten, Brothers, on your way,

Exulting as a knight in victory.

CHORUS

Joy, fair spark of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

Drunk with fiery rapture, Goddess,

We approach thy shrine!

Be embraced, Millions!

Take this kiss for all the world!

Brothers, surely a loving Father

Dwells above the canopy of stars.

Do you sink before him, Millions?

World, do you sense your Creator?

Seek him then beyond the stars!

He must dwell beyond the stars.

 

Biographies

Photo by: Ben Lariviere Photography

Andrei Feher, conductor

Rapidly establishing himself as one of the rising stars of his generation, Andrei Feher was recently appointed as the new Music Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra effective August 2018. Feher, chosen after a thorough 18-month long search, was noted for his conducting prowess and musicianship, as well his imaginative approach to performance, repertoire and community connection.

Having gained early experience as assistant to Fabien Gabel at the Québec Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22, in September 2014, Andrei joined the Orchestre de Paris as Assistant Conductor to its Music Director, Paavo Järvi, during which time he collaborated with conductors including Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Christoph von Dohnányi, Thomas Hengelbrock and Jaap van Zweden, as well as being regularly invited to conduct the orchestra in their highly popular ‘Young Public’ concerts at the Philharmonie de Paris.

In 2013 he was invited to conduct the closing concert of the Young Prague Festival, in the DvořákHall of the Rudolfinum before going on to work with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whom he replaced at the head of the Orchestre Métropolitan, Montreal, in 2014 in a programme of music by Richard Strauss after which he was immediately re-invited to conduct in the orchestra’s subscription series.

The 2015/16 season saw Andrei return to conduct both the Québec Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris in performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev and Strauss’ Til Eulenspiegel.

A strong advocate of contemporary music, he has recently performed works by Eric Champagne, Pierre Mercure, George Dimitrov, Ciprian Pop and Abigail Richardson and in November 2015 gave the world premiere of Soleil noir by Pierre Jodlowski with the Orchestre de Pau-Béarn, an engagement which resulted in an immediate re-invitation to work with the orchestra in the 17/18 season as well as a reprise of Soleil noir in Toulouse for November 2016.

In the 2016/17 season Andrei Feher made his debuts with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica de Stat ‘Transilvania’ in Cluj and the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. His debut with the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne led to two re-invitations to the orchestra, to conduct in their popular Sunday series as well as the world premiere of Thierry Besancon’s opera for children ‘Les Zoocrates’. His return to the Quebec Symphony Orchestra conducting Mozart and Dvorak received great critical acclaim.

Forthcoming highlights in the 17/18 season include debuts with the Romanian Radio National Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, les Violons du Roy, Orchestre nationale d’Ile de France as well as reinvitations to the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne, Filarmonica de Stat ‘Transilvania’ and concerts with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Born in Romania to a family of musicians, Andrei Feher began his musical education as a violinist in his hometown Satu-Mare before continuing his studies at the Montreal Conservatoire when his parents relocated to Canada.

Barbara Croall, composer and singer

Active internationally from the start of her career in 1995, acclaimed Odawa First Nation composer and musician Barbara Croall from Canada (Manidoo Mnissing, Giniw dodem) has received world premiere performances of her music in several European countries, the UK, the United States, Asia, and Latin America. Apart from playing, performing, and composing on the pipigwan (Anishinaabe cedar flute) and singing in traditional ceremonies, Croall is a classically trained musician, with degrees and diplomas received from Centre Acanthes (France), the Musikhochschule in Munich (Germany), The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), and the University of Toronto where she was the recipient of the Glenn Gould Award in Composition (1989). Selected as ‘One of 100 Canadians To Watch’ by Maclean’s Magazine, Croall has continued to create musical works which have fascinated and enthralled critics and audiences alike for her distinctly Indigenous sound within the field of classical music, theatre, dance, film, and multidisciplinary performance.

From 1998 to 2000 she was a Resident Composer with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra working with Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Other orchestral and large ensemble performances of her music include: The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, The Guelph Symphony Orchestra, The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony Orchestra (Canada), The Royal Conservatory Orchestra (Toronto), The National Academy Orchestra (Boris Brott, Canada), Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra (US), Mary Washington Wind Orchestra (US), the Composer’s Orchestra (Canada), among others. Her music has been premiered and performed at many international festivals, such as: Festival d’Avignon (France), Murten Festival (Switzerland), ADevantgarde Festival neuer Musik (Munich), Is Arti Contemporary Music Festival (Lithuania), Northlands New Music Exchange (Finland), Aboriginal Music Days 2000 (University of Toronto), Made in Canada Festival (Massey Hall, Toronto), Motoperpetuo (Italy), Classical Native (Washington, D.C.), Indigenous Music Festival (Winnipeg), Ottawa Chamberfest – Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Music Niagara – Niagara International Music Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada), Brott Festival (Hamilton, ON).

As a performer on the pipigwan (traditional Anishinaabe cedar flute), and as a pianist and vocalist, Croall has been a guest at such venues as: Toronto Music Garden (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto), The Glenn Gould Studio (CBC Broadcasting Centre, Toronto), Mexican Embassy (Rome, Italy), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), the Kennedy Centre (Washington, D.C.), the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), Centennial Concert Hall (Winnipeg MB), River Run Centre (Guelph ON), Centre in the Square (Kitchener-Waterloo ON), Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Vilnius) Walter Hall (University of Toronto), Mazzoleni Recital Hall (Glenn Gould School, Toronto), Farquhar Auditorium (University of Victoria BC), Hamilton Place and The McIntyre Performing Arts Centre (Hamilton ON), Jane Mallet Theatre (Toronto), TCU Place (Saskatoon SK), Crowell Concert Hall – Center for the Arts (Wesleyan University, CT), and other smaller notable venues.

As a composer, Croall has worked with leading international conductors, such as: Simon Streatfeild (England/Canada) Jukka-Pekka Saraste (Finland), Elgar Howarth (England), Andrew Mickelthwate (Germany/Canada), Alex Pauk (Canada), Alain Trudel (Quebec), Boris Brott (Canada), Tania Miller (Canada), Eric Paetkau (Canada), Fabio Mastrangelo (Italy/Russia), Judith Yan (Canada), and Gillian MacKay (Canada).

Jennifer Enns Modolo, alto

Jennifer Enns Modolo has been active as a soloist in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and sung with several groups throughout Southern Ontario. Recent roles include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat with the Elora Festival Singers, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Grand River Chorus, Tovey’s Requiem with Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir, Mozart’s Vespers with Menno Singers, Bach’s Missa Brevis and Handel’s Messiah with Elora Festival Singers, Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Requiem with Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. In concert, she has appeared as guest soloist with the early music ensemble Greensleeves, premiered Michael Purves-Smith’s Woodland Portraits: in Oil, Words and Music with Leith Quartet, and has performed Respighi’s Il Tramonto with Waterloo Chamber Players. In 2003, Jennifer performed the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Orford Arts Centre in Quebec. In 2002, she made her debut with Ontario Opera Chorus in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Other opera roles include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Weill’s Street Scene, and the premiere of Daryl Jamieson’s Mandragola. Jennifer has won Kiwanis music scholarships at both the local and provincial level and is a recent recipient of the NATS Most Promising Senior University Level Singer scholarship. In 2004, she was a finalist in the Annual Solo Competition with the Oratorio Society of New York.

Erin Wall, soprano

Soprano Erin Wall is acclaimed for her musicality and versatility, with an extensive opera and concert repertoire that spans three centuries from Mozart and Beethoven to Britten and Strauss. She has sung leading roles in the world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, and appears in concert with leading symphony orchestras and conductors worldwide.
Recent career highlights include the title role in Strauss’ Arabella and Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Metropolitan Opera; a highly acclaimed debut as Clémence in L’amour de loin with the Canadian Opera Company in 2012; the title role in Thaïs at the Edinburgh Festival; and the 50th Anniversary performance of Britten’s War Requiem with the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led by Andris Nelsons at Coventry Cathedral. Ms. Wall has recently sung Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Boston Symphony under Haitink and Vienna Philharmonic under Thielemann, and Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Hessischer Rundfunk under Paavo Järvi, Houston Symphony under Eschenbach, and NHK Philharmonic under Dutoit.

Ms. Wall’s discography includes Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder with the Melbourne symphony, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Berlin Staatskapelle conducted by Boulez and the GRAMMY™ winning recording of the same work with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. She has recorded Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the San Francisco and Montréal symphonies, and sings Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte on DVD, recorded live at Aix-en-Provence.

Adam Luther, tenor

From Newfoundland, Adam Luther is one of Canada’s most exciting tenors, with a repertoire ranging from Janacek to Mozart to Puccini. He begins the current season with the role of Alfredo in La traviata for Manitoba Opera and Lensky in Eugene Onegin with Calgary Opera. A favourite with Salute to Vienna audiences in the US and Canada, he will be in Edmonton and Calgary this season for the New Year’s concerts and later sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Last season’s highlights included Rodolfo in La boheme for the Minnesota Opera, Elijah for Chorus Niagara, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte for Pacific Opera Victoria, Messiah for Edmonton Symphony, and an Opera Gala for the Sacramento Symphony.

During the 2015-2016 season Mr. Luther sang Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Vancouver Opera, Mozart’s Requiem for Symphony Nova Scotia, Alfredo in La Traviata for Orchestre symphonique de Trois Rivieres, Cassio in Otello for Pacific Opera Victoria, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte for Calgary Opera and Alfred in Die Fledermaus with the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony. He was also heard in an Opera Gala for the Johnstown Symphony in Pennsylvania and ‘Salute to Vienna’ in Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Mr. Luther has been a featured soloist with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Sounds of the Festival in Parry Sound, Aldeburgh Connection and the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as a Diploma in Opera from both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Toronto.

Daniel Okulitch, bass-baritone

Lauded as “flat out brilliant” by Opera News, Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch is a leading interpreter of Mozart roles, most notably Don Giovanni, Almaviva, and Figaro, which he has performed at New York City Opera, Teatro Colón, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Warsaw, Vancouver Opera, Dallas Opera, New Orleans Opera, Portland Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Hawaii Opera, Manitoba Opera, and Lyric Opera Kansas City. Okulitch has also equally excelled in creating leading roles in contemporary opera, most notably the roles of Ennis del Mar in Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain at Teatro Real in Madrid; Mark Rutland in Nico Muhly’s Marnie with English National Opera, Seth Brundle in Howard Shore’s The Fly at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and at Los Angeles Opera; Willy Wonka in Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Atlanta Opera; LBJ in JFK with Fort Worth Opera; and Herman Broder in Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story at Palm Beach Opera.

Okulitch’s career first garnered national attention in the role of Schaunard in the original cast of Baz Luhrmann’s Tony Award-winning Broadway production of La bohème. Other career highlights include his Teatro alla Scala debut as Theseus in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; his Washington National Opera debut in the role of Swallow in Peter Grimes which he also performed at La Scala; Creonte in Médée with Opera Genève; his return to Vancouver Opera as Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; and his role debut as Leporello in Don Giovanni at Opéra de Montréal.

Okulitch is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including first prize from the George London Foundation, the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, and the Sullivan Foundation, and second prize from the Licia Albanese / Puccini Foundation Competition. He was a previous regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Grand Council Auditions and additionally has received grants from the Singers Development Fund and from the Canada Council for Professional Musicians, as well as received the Andrew White Memorial Award and a Corbett Award. Daniel Okulitch received an artist diploma in opera from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and received his Bachelors and Masters of Arts degrees in voice and opera from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.