Season 22-23 was our first full year of live events since 2019, and we were so thrilled to be able to reunite with our community inside and outside the concert hall! After such a rewarding year, we want to express our gratitude to everyone who joined us. To our generous sponsors and donors, selfless volunteers and board members, loyal longtime audience members and those who are new to the HPO: thank you all so much for choosing to be a part of our community. We can’t wait to see you again!
With season 23-24 just around the corner, we invite you to take a trip down memory lane with us for a look back at the fantastic year we’ve just wrapped-up at the HPO.
HPO 22-23 Season: September and October
The season started with a celebration! Last September‘s opening night kicked off with the world premiere of The Path Illuminates by our Composer-In-Residence, Abigail Richardson-Schulte. The HPO commissioned this work in honour of Abigail’s tenth season with the HPO. Led by our Music Director Gemma New, we experienced a moving performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Daniel Tsu. The concert concluded with a powerful performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
October 2022 was an unforgettable month at the HPO. We welcomed Jeremy Dutcher, Polaris and Juno winning artist, to FirstOntario Concert Hall. This concert included works from his debut album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa – arranged for orchestra by the evening’s conductor Lucas Waldin – as well as brand new works premiering with the HPO! Giving traditional Wolostoq songs new life in our modern world, Jeremy’s performance was unmatched in emotion and authenticity.
Just a week later, we celebrated contemporary composers at our Intimate & Immersive concert with Gemma New. There, HPO Composer Fellow Cadu Verdan‘s new work had its world premiere! The Cotton Factory performance space was magical, decorated with artist Amy McIntosh’s stunning multi-media installations.
The magic continued with our Family Concert of The Spirit Horse Returns. This is a powerful story of Indigenous resilience illustrated through the history of the Ojibwe Pony. We were lucky enough to have the creators of this concert join us: horn player and narrator Ken MacDonald, storyteller and singer Jodi Contin, and visual artist Rhonda Snow. Complete with an art sale, a sharing circle, and performance by the Strong Water Singers before the show, it was a deeply meaningful day for all.
November and December
We welcomed veterans in our November mainstage audience in honour of Remembrance Day. This performance opened with Oh Canada, followed by Vincent Ho’s pow wow-inspired Earthbeat, featuring HPYO musicians! Cellist Cameron Crozman gave a beautiful performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto No. 1. Next, our guest conductor Alexander Prior led the orchestra in a powerful rendition of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.
Then, the HPO and Gemma New joined forces with Bach Elgar Choir for two performances of Handel’s beloved Messiah! It was a touching collaboration that we can’t wait to repeat in December of 2023! Nestled between our two Messiah concerts was our annual holiday concert. There, Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra musicians and the Hamilton Children’s Choir joined the HPO and Gemma New on stage to put everyone into the festive spirit for the giving season.
February, March and April
In February, we got by with a little help from our friends at our orchestral Beatles concert, arranged by Darcy Hepner! Legendary local artists Ian Thomas, Tom Wilson, Jamie Oakes, Jay Gordon Wright, Thompson Wilson, and Queen Pepper joined us on stage.
Alongside the HPO, we had Bill Dillon on guitar, Paul Intson on bass, Dusty Micale on keyboards and Steve Heathcote on drums. We had a full house and unparalleled energy in the hall where the audience sang and danced along all night!
The month of March took us on a French adventure with Mozart’s Paris Symphony and works by Ravel and French-Canadian composer Samy Moussa. We even had a French-Canadian conductor, Pierre Simard, helping us bring these works to life! We were delighted to have our own Principal Flute Leslie Newman took the spotlight for Jacques Ibert’s Flute Concerto. Then, Composer Fellow Jesse Plessis’s work Forma Divina had its world premiere!
The evening concluded with a fantastic private Mozart Mixer for our 35 & Under subscribers, bringing our composer fellows, musicians and young community members together to talk about what we all love – live orchestral music!
Our April mainstage concert was An Evening with Schubert, where guest conductor Sarah Ioannides led a joyful performance of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. Soprano Alexandra Smither joined us on stage for Schubert’s angelic Ave Maria and Zosha di Castri’s Dear Life.
Dear Life was commissioned by Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra as part of their “Life Reflected” project. This captivating and electronic-infused work incorporates the short story “Dear Life” by Canadian and Nobel prize-winning author Alice Munro, with text distilled by Canadian author Merilyn Simmonds and narration by Canadian theater legend Martha Henry.
May at the HPO: Closing our 22-23 Season
In May, we hosted Orchestras Canada’s 2023 National Conference were pleased to invite attendees to Intimate & Immersive: Undreaming Sleep’s Bright Land. This was a concert of contemporary music by living Canadian composers – all of whom were present! The Cotton Factory was glowing with dreamy once again with Amy McIntosh’s brilliant installations throughout the space. This sold-out event with Gemma New was our biggest Intimate & Immersive to date!
Finally, our 22-23 Season came to an exciting close when we reunited with our former HPO Music Director, James Sommerville, for our last concert of the year! He conducted our HPO through a stirring performance of Beethoven’s fifth symphony after violinist Nikki Chooi took centrestage as our guest soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4. Iman Habibi joined us to introduce Jeder Baum spricht, a work he composed as a reflection on climate change in honour of Beethoven’s love of nature. Composer Fellow Gavin Fraser‘s new work, for dappled things, had its premiere at the top of the evening. We were thrilled to also perform portions of these works to students from across Hamilton and beyond at our education concert!
HPO 22-23 Season Beyond the Concert Hall
One of the highlights of our time in the community this year was celebrating the life and music of Franz Schubert during our Schubert Composer Festival in April. The festival included a Happy Hour at Shawn & Ed’s in Dundas, music appreciation talks at Hamilton and Burlington Public Library’s, another talk with The Hamilton Association for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art, and our annual Community Recital!
All season long, HPO musicians had amazing year of connecting with our members of our community. From presentations and performances in libraries to bringing live orchestral music to retirement homes and into Hamilton schools, we’ve been sharing joy of music with as many people as possible. We loved collaborating with new venues like Westdale Theatre and celebrating the summer months at Festival or Friends and Supercrawl. We also had the pleasure of preforming with Estonian artists during Estonian Music Week at Collective Arts Brewing.
A Year of Live Music-Making with the HPYO
We welcomed HPYO musicians back for a full year of live rehearsals and concerts in 22-23! David Willms joined us as HPYO Music Director and led our players through three successful terms. Players learned masterworks, music from film scores and more, working alongside HPO coaches in sectionals to hone their skills. We were delighted to have many new players join the concert and philharmonic youth orchestras throughout the year. This summer, we look forward to welcoming musicians for our four-day HPYO Summer Intensive, Tune Up!
Experience the Magic of our Upcoming Season
Celebrate Gemma New’s final season as HPO Music Director and experience a brilliant line up of Canadian soloists. Guest conductors from across the globe will be gracing our stage for another spectacular year of orchestral masterworks and contemporary gems.
Subscribe today and discover your orchestra in 23-24!
Published on June 22, 2023