HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra announces the 2016 What Next Festival of New Music taking place in various venues throughout the city between May 18 and May 27, 2016.

This year’s What Next Festival is centered on the theme of voice and features contemporary storytelling through Canadian opera and vocal music. The HPO is proud to present local professional singers in combination with emerging professionals from COSI (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy).

Audiences will experience the sublime, the dark side of human nature, wild abandon, outrageous comedy and wild stories set to music performed by HPO musicians. The festival includes three exciting world premieres, contemporary chamber operas and evocative vocal works written by some of Canada’s finest living opera composers, librettists and poets.

Now in its sixth year, the What Next Festival is Hamilton’s annual new music celebration, bringing contemporary Canadian composers and artists to Hamilton audiences. Displaying the dynamic and thriving new music scene, the What Next Festival exposes our community to music written by composers of today, in our country, our province and even our city.

Each concert challenges concertgoers to push their listening boundaries and experience new and compelling works being written today. Highlighting the interactive component of the What Next Festival, select composers attend and introduce their works to the audience at each performance.



  • Wednesday, May 18 – Miracle Flight 571
  • Thursday, May 19 – Sidewalk Flowers
  • Wednesday, May 25 – Legend and Jealousy
  • Friday, May 27 –The Perfect Screw: Late Night with the HPO



Miracle Flight 571
Wed., May 18 at 7:30pm Christ’s Church Cathedral (252 James St. N.)

William Rowson, Conductor
Darryl Edwards, Director

Lloyd Burritt: Miracle Flight 571

This opera in two acts tells the gripping true story of the 1972 Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes. The rich score full of rhythmic drive and harsh dissonances captures the survivor’s determination to survive in the unforgiving harshness of the Andes. The world premiere of this chamber opera is semi-staged and performed “in-the-round” in Hamilton’s magnificent Christ’s Church Cathedral. Presented in partnership with COSI (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy).

Admission by donation. PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.


Sidewalk Flowers
Thurs., May 19 at 7:30pm
McMaster LiveLab (1280 Main St. W.)

Bud Roach, Tenor
Chelsea Van Pelt, Soprano
Christina Hablane, Soprano

Andrew Staniland: Calamus 6, Andrew Staniland: No Labor-Saving Machine, John Laing: Revival, Dean Burry: Grace, Kaija Saariaho: NoaNoa, Cecilia Livingston: Two Dreams, Abigail Richardson-Schulte: Sidewalk Flowers

Performed in the unique context of McMaster’s LIVELab, your HPO presents the premiere of Sidewalk Flowers by Abigail Richardson-Schulte, based on the Governor General’s Award-winning picture book by poet JonArno Lawson. This wordless book comes to life as the touching story is told without words and through voice, string quartet, piano, electronics and on-screen illustrations. As a prelude, the piece begins with a setting of poems from Lawson’s Shade Garden collection, from the book “Enjoy It While It Hurts”, describing plants that resemble people.

A premiere by Hamilton-based composer John Laing adds to this intriguing program of poetry and voice, while HPO Principal Flutist Leslie Newman returns to the What Next Festival to perform Kaija Saariaho’s work for flute and electronics.

80 seats available on a first come, first served basis.
Doors open at 6:30pm.
Admission by donation. PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.


Legend and Jealousy
Wed., May 25 at 7:30pm
Christ’s Church Cathedral (252 James St. N.)

William Rowson, Conductor
Bradley Christensen, Baritone

James Rolfe: Swoon, Jeffrey Ryan: The Whitening of the Ox

An evening of two short operas in concert, balancing the gravity of Zen Buddhism with the light heartedness of a Shakespearean comedy. The Whitening of the Ox tells the Zen Buddhist story of the wild ox as a metaphor of the dangers of the untamed mind and ego. The half-hour journey of this work takes us from chaos to order, complexity to simplicity, dark to light.

Swoon, with text by Hamilton’s Anna Chatterton, is a brisk, contemporary comedy that tells the story of two disillusioned couples who work out their jealousies through flirtatious exchanges with each other’s partners.

Admission by donation. PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.


The Perfect Screw: Late Night with the HPO
Fri., May 27 at 9pm
The Gasworks (141 Park St. N.)

William Rowson, Conductor
Julie Ludwig, Soprano
Bud Roach, Tenor
Jeremy Ludwig, Baritone

William Rowson: The Virgin Charlie, Abigail Richardson-Schulte: The Perfect Screw

Your HPO goes late night with a cabaret-style evening of contemporary opera. William Rowson’s short work, The Virgin Charlie, tells the charming but twisted tale of a drag singer who’s told s/he is bearing the Second Coming. The Perfect Screw by Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte, charts the American Phillips screw’s domination over the technically superior Canadian Robertson screw. An allegory, parody and romance, all in 45-minutes. Enjoy a cocktail or two and these hilariously risqué one-act operas.

Caution: Suggestive language. Recommended for ages 18+.
Limited seats available on a first come, first served basis.
Admission by donation. PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.
Ticket Information
Admission to all What Next Festival concerts is PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.


Media Contact:
Diana Weir, Director, Communications and Development | Tel: 905.526.1677 x230 | Email: dweir@hpo.org
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1884 as The Hamilton Orchestral Society and grew to become one of Canada’s major professional orchestras. Today, the HPO is a leader in Hamilton’s robust arts community where it provides professional orchestral services and music education programs to address the needs of the community. The HPO continues to commission and premiere works and is one of the artistic jewels of the Hamilton area. The combined musical talents of its artists continue to enrich the community and enhance the quality of life for its residents.