Music and Poetry: Alexander Shelley Conducts Richard Strauss and Sibelius

Strauss gave the final touches to the Romantic lied tradition with Four Last Songs, a metaphor of human existence seen through the cycle of the seasons. This performance showcases the mellifluous timbres of great Canadian soprano Adrianne Piezconka. Strauss’ metaphysical meditations on redemption in death reach their apex in the tone poem Death and Transfiguration. Also on the program: Sibelius’ famous Valse triste.

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

Alexander Shelley, conductor

Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2015.  The ensemble has since been praised as “an orchestra transformed … hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Alexander’s programming credited for turning the orchestra “almost overnight … into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.” (Maclean’s magazine). Born in London in October 1979, Alexander, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors’ Competition, with the press describing him as “the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality”. In August 2017 Alexander concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker, a position he held since September 2009. The partnership was hailed by press and audience alike as a golden era for the orchestra, where he transformed the ensemble’s playing, education work and international touring activities. These have included concerts in Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna. In January 2015 he assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally. Described as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium” (Daily Telegraph) Alexander works regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Gothenburg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras.

Adrianne Pieczonka, soprano

Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka has performed on the world’s finest opera and concert stages for over three decades. Raised in Burlington, Ontario, she attended the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. Upon completing her training in Canada, she moved to Europe in 1988 and was immediately engaged by the Vienna Volksoper. She joined the Vienna Staatsoper in 1991 where she continues to perform regularly as a guest artist. She has a wide operatic repertoire but is best known for her interpretation of Wagner and Strauss heroines like Senta (The Flying Dutchman), Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Elsa (Lohengrin), Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), The Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), Arabella and Chrysothemis (Elektra). Her other roles include Tosca, Leonore in Fidelio and Elisabetta in Don Carlos. Adrianne has sung leading roles at La Scala, The Metropolitan Opera New York, Teatro Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Real in Madrid, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Berlin State Opera, San Francisco Opera, among many others. She made her solo debut at the Canadian Opera Company in 1988 and she has appeared in many productions since then, winning a Dora Award in 2004 for her portrayal of Sieglinde in Die Walküre. She has sung at the prestigious summer festivals in Bayreuth and Salzburg and has performed concerts and recitals at many of the world’s great concert halls. She has worked with Riccardo Muti, Christian Thielemann, James Levine, Claudio Abbado, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Zubin Mehta, and Kent Nagano among many others. Adrianne was named Kammersängerin by the Austrian government in 2007 and was made Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008. She is a Juno Award winner (for her Puccini Album in 2010) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Adrianne Pieczonka is Vocal Chair at The Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory of Music where she teaches and mentors young singers for the benefit of future generations.

Strauss,Vier Letzte Lieder [Four Last Songs], op. 150, TrV 296 (24 min.)
Sibelius, Valse triste (Sad Waltz), op. 44, no. 1 (6 min.)
Strauss,Tod und Verklärung [Death and Transfiguration], op. 24, TrV 158 (24 min.)

WEBCAST – Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 7:00pm

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