Bringing together untraditional pairings of instruments and sounds  

HAMILTON, ON –The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is proud to announce the 2015 What Next Festival of New Music taking place in various venues throughout the downtown core between April 29 and May 5, 2015.

Now in its fifth 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 today by composers 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.

This year’s What Next Festival is centered on the theme of Alter Egos.  Shining a light on the diverse and talented musicians of the HPO, the festival features musicians performing on their main orchestral instruments as well as unusual or non-traditional instruments one would not typically see in the concert hall.  Guests can expect to see Principal Clarinetist Stephen Pierre on a variety of woodwind instruments and Principal Double Bassist Rob Wolanski displaying his skills on instruments typical of a rock ensemble.  Aside from playing second, third and fourth instruments, guests can hear our musicians pushing the limits of their standard orchestral instruments in unusual chamber ensembles and contemporary playing techniques such as singing and playing simultaneously.

This year’s festival focuses on homegrown talent and features world premieres by Hamilton-based composers Christien Ledroit and Abigail Richardson-Schulte, and compositions by Hamilton-born composers Christopher Thornborrow and Elisha Denburg.


  • Wednesday, April 29 – Cocktails and Culture Opening Reception at Nathaniel Hughson Gallery
  • Thursday, April 30 – Concert: Discover the Unusual at Christ’s Church Cathedral
  • Sunday, May 3 – Coffee with the Composers at Mulberry Street Coffeehouse
  • Tuesday, May 5 – Concert: Alter Egos at The Gasworks


Wednesday, April 29
5:30 – 8:30pm
Cocktails and Culture: Opening Reception
Nathaniel Hughson Gallery (27 John St. N.)

Our second annual celebration of contemporary art and music in Hamilton.  Join us for a reception and an evening of socializing as we kick off the 2015 What Next Festival and enjoy the current exhibit at the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery.  Cash bar and refreshments served.

Thursday, April 30
Concert: Discover the Unusual
Christ’s Church Cathedral (252 James St. N.)

William Rowson, conductor
Toy Piano Composers, guest composers

Presented in-the-round in the intimate and beautiful setting at Christ’s Church Cathedral, this concert features HPO musicians showcasing unique techniques.  Hear Principal Flutist Leslie Newman as the soloist in Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Terrestre, which features interesting contemporary techniques such as singing and playing at the same time.  Canadian composer James Rolfe’s raW highlights the unusual combination of piccolo, bass clarinet and drum set with piano and strings.  Hear the harp like you never have before in harpist Erica Goodman’s performance of Andrew McDonald’s Elektra of Atreus.  We’re pleased to welcome guest composers the Toy Piano Composers.  This concert features a number of their works including Hamilton native Elisha Denburg’s FISHER PRICE LAUGH AND LEARN FUN WITH FRIENDS MUSICAL TABLE, Monica Pearce’s Clangor for toy piano and bicycle bells, and Hamilton native Christopher Thornborrow’s Walking for chamber ensemble.

Sunday, May 3
2 – 4pm
Coffee with the Composers
Mulberry Street Coffeehouse

What does it mean to be a composer today?  Where do they find their inspiration?  Join us in this casual drop in event at Mulberry.  Grab a coffee and have a chat with Christien Ledroit, HPO Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte and other composers featured in the festival.

Tuesday, May 5
Concert: Alter Egos
The Gasworks (141 Park St. N.)

Testing the perceptions of a traditional symphonic musician, Principal Clarinetist Stephen Pierre and Principal Double Bassist Rob Wolanski break out of the box and show us what else they can play.  In a program featuring guitar, saxophone, basset horn and electric bass, along with HPO musicians on the violin, trumpet and trombone, this evocative concert features two world premieres by Hamilton composers Christien Ledroit and our own Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte.  Also featured on this concert are Canadian composer Vincent Ho’s Whimsical Sketches of Fanciful Birds and music by Vivian Fung, who turns the piano into a completely different instrument in her piece Glimpses.

Ticket Information

Admission to all What Next Festival concerts is PWYC (pay what you can) at the door.

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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.