Love prevails as the HPO performs lush works inspired by Shakespeare’s story in Romeo and Juliet

HAMILTON ON – The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes Music Director Candidate Alain Trudel to FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) on Saturday, February 21 at 7:30pm in Romeo and Juliet. The program features Trudel conducting Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (Suites 1 and 2). Presenting lush symphonic music from the 19th and 20th centuries, this concert offers patrons multiple composers’ perspectives of Shakespeare’s famous love story.

Canadian conductor and Music Director Candidate Alain Trudel has been a formidable force on the Canadian music scene for the past 30 years. Beginning his musical career as a trombonist, Trudel made his solo debut at the age of 18 with Charles Dutoit at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. As a conductor, Trudel has conducted every major orchestra in Canada as well as orchestra’s in the UK, US, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong and Latin America. From 2006 to 2008, Trudel was the conductor of the CBC Radio Orchestra. He most recently served as the Music Director of Orchestra London and the Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Trudel is the last of six Music Director Candidates to grace the HPO podium at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) between April 2014 and March 2015.

A suggestion from Russian composer Mili Balakirev spawned Tchaikovsky’s well-loved Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Written in 1869 when the Russian composer was only 29 years old, Balakirev’s suggestion gave the young Tchaikovsky the direction he needed to compose a work within a narrative framework. Written as a symphonic poem, the Fantasy Overture is based upon the characters of Friar Laurence, Romeo and Juliet. Each section of the work depicts a different part of the story: a heavily accented theme in the beginning depicts the feud between the Montagues and Capulets while the famous “love theme” displays the attraction between the two lovers. The Fantasy Overture is only one of Tchaikovsky’s three Shakespearean inspired pieces: he also composed works based on Hamlet and The Tempest.

French composer Hector Berlioz was integral to bringing the practice of orchestration to an art. Drawn to eccentric stories, this was most evident in his Symphonie Fantastique, based on the story of a man in an opium-induced dream. His own dramatic interpretation of Roméo et Juliette was inspired after witnessing an 1831 performance of Donizetti’s opera The Montagues and the Capulets. Of this five movement piece, HPO patrons will hear the Love Scene movement, of which Berlioz spoke eloquently in his memoirs:

If you ask me now which of my works I prefer, my answer is the same as that of the majority of artists: the adagio (the love scene) of Romeo and Juliet. One day, at Hanover, at the end of the piece, I felt I was being pulled from behind by someone. On turning round I saw it was the players near my desk who were kissing my coattails.

Comprising the second half of the program is Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Premiering in 1938 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, Prokofiev’s original ballet Romeo and Juliet provided the music for this concert suite, which premiered two years before the ballet was ever seen. When the Kirov Ballet invited Prokofiev to write a work based on the play, Prokofiev joined this celebrated group of composers featured on this concert who were known for their work on the classic tale. Since Prokofiev arranged the suite without regard for the events in the play, Maestro Trudel has designed the second half of the concert to follow the narrative of Shakespeare’s story. Audiences will find themselves fully immersed in the thrill, passion and intrigue of Shakespeare’s love story in the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Romeo and Juliet.


Ticket Information

Single tickets for Romeo and Juliet are $23 to $67 (plus applicable taxes and fees) and are available online at, by calling 905.526.7756 or in person at the HPO Box Office in FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) at 10 MacNab Street South or FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) Box Office the evening of the concert. Tickets can also be purchased online through TicketMaster or in person at the First Ontario Centre box office.

Special hpoGO tickets for the under 35 crowd are $17 (plus HST) and can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person.  To receive special discounts and invitations to special events, under 35 patrons can sign up online at


HPO at the Library

In partnership with the Hamilton Public Library, this FREE program features HPO musicians and guest artists in an intimate community setting.

Friday, February 20, 12:45 to 1:30pm
Central Branch, Hamilton Public Library (55 York Blvd.)

Lunch and Learn with Music Director Candidate Alain Trudel


Reserve your Table before the Concert

The HPO’s Dinner and a Concert program offers patrons the opportunity to enjoy a three-course, prix fixe meal at a partnering restaurant within half a kilometre of FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place).  Each package includes a meal at partnering restaurants and a ticket to the performance.  Call the HPO Box Office at 905.526.7756 to reserve your table.

Sláinte Irish Pub – $49                                                
33 Bowen St.

Incognito Restaurant & Wine Bar – $59                  
93 John St. S.

The Hamilton Club – $79
6 Main St. E


Media Contact: Diana Weir, Director, Communications and Development | Tel: 905.526.1677 x230 | Email:
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.