Chamberfest concert series features Angela Hewitt, Miró Quartet and Philippe Sly

British cellist Steven Isserlis makes a rare Ottawa appearance next April. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot

Just as the annual summer Chamberfest is about to begin, people are reminded that there is more music to come with the release of the Ottawa Chamber Society’s concerts plans for the fall and winter season.

The Chamberfest Concert Series has become much more than a bridge between festivals. It has grown into a lineup that commands attention and this year’s continues the trend.

The concert series will feature lots of Canadian talent including the former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet Martin Beaver and rising string star Blake Pouliot, the soprano Karina Gauvin, Ottawa bass-baritone Philippe Sly and pianists Charles Richard-Hamelin and Angela Hewitt on the last part of her Bach Odyssey.

The legendary Miró Quartet will open the series in October and Ottawa audiences will get another chance to enjoy the vocal mastery of the Tallis Scholars in the holidays.

The concert series closes in April with a concert by cellist Steven Isserlis. In addition there are two other events that are being dubbed musical partnerships. One features Choral Canada’s National Youth Choir of Canada and the other has NACO’s concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki leading his colleagues in concert.

Here is more detail on the concerts. Unless indicated all concerts are at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre. Tickets and more information:

Miró Quartet. Photo: Michael Thad Carter

Miró Quartet
When: Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. 

The Miró Quartet, named after the Spanish surrealist Joan Miró, is celebrating 25 years this season and will return to Ottawa to open the concert series. The Texas-based quartet was last in town in 2017 taking part in the Chamberfest. On their program: Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17 ‘The Hunt’, Schumann’s String Quartet No. 1 in A minor and Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5.

Karina Gauvin. Photo: Michael Slobodian

Pacific Baroque Orchestra with Karina Gauvin
When: Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

The soprano, Karina Gauvin, is known for her performance of the Baroque repertoire. In her 2017 concert in the Cahmberfest series she delivered a full recital of Purcell’s music and told ARTSFILE “I have been attracted to Purcell since I was a little girl. They didn’t call him Orpheus Britannicus for nothing. He really had a way with melody.” This time she will be singing the Handel oratorios Agrippina condotto a morire and Armida abbandonata ably abetted by Vancouver’s Pacific Baroque Orchestra which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019-20.

Angela Hewitt Bach Odyssey X
When: Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Nothing seems to deter Angela Hewitt when she puts her mind to a project, not even an ankle injury. These days her ankle is well and she’s still playing Bach. In this concert she tackles the fourth, fifth and sixth English Suites and the Sonata in D major. The Bach Odyssey is a four year long effort but as she has told ARTSFILE: “Four years out of a life is a lot. But I’m extremely happy now that I have taken it on. … It has been great to look back at these pieces, works that I haven’t played in many years, and get it all under my belt again. I’ll never have to do that again. Now it’s really there forever.”

Martin Beaver. Photo: Shayne Gray

Octagon Ensemble
When: Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Here is a true meeting of Canadian musical minds. The Octagon Ensemble is made up of violinists Martin Beaver and Mark Fewer, violist Rivka Golani, NACO’s principal cellist Rachel Mercer, NACO’s principal bass Joel Quarrington, horn player Ken MacDonald, bassoonist Kathleen McLean, and clarinetist and the artistic director of the Festival of the Sound  James Campbell. Together they will premiere Canadian composer Kevin Lau’s A Drop of Light. 

Tallis Scholars
When: Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Hard to knock a concert by Britain’s Tallis Scholars in the holiday season. They have become sort of regulars in the concert series having performed in 2015 and 2017. This concert is called Reflections and features a capella music from the Renaissance to today. 

Philippe Sly. Photo: Mathieu Sly

Philippe Sly Winterreise
When: Jan. 20, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa’s Philippe Sly has an affinity for the songs of Schubert. His recording with guitarist John Charles Britton called the Schubert Sessions was nominated for a JUNO in 2018. He has a deep familiarity with the Winterreise, that most challenging work by the Austrian composer, having studied it with the leider expert Robert Holl. He has recorded the cycle with the ensemble Le Chimera Project and the recording is drawing good reviews for its reinterpretation of the work. One compared it to “a Klezmer/Roma version of the work.” Expect the unexpected in this concert.

Charles Richard-Hamelin. Photo: Elizabeth Delage

Charles Richard-Hamelin with Apollon Musagète Quartet
When: Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Poland’s Apollon Musagète Quartet makes its Ottawa debut with works by Haydn and Penderecki, joining forces with Charles Richard-Hamelin for Dvořák’s masterwork, the Piano Quintet in A major. 

Blake Pouliot. Photo: Jeff Fasano

Blake Pouliot, violin
When: Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: National Gallery of Canada

Canadian violinist — and occasional TV star — Blake Pouliot is one of the rising stars of the instrument. He has been featured with the Montreal, National Arts Centre and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. He won the 2016 Orchestra Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) Manulife Competition and his dance calendar is full. This concertt features Pouliot playing Mozart to Ravel and Prokofiev with pianist Hsin-I Huang. 

Angela Hewitt. Photo: Keith Saunders

Angela Hewitt: Bach Odyssey XI
When: March 11 at  7:30 p.m.

In the penultimate concert of the Odyssey Hewitt plays the Italian Concerto in F major.

Steven Isserlis, cello
When: April 17 at 7:30 p.m.

He writes children’s books. He’s a fan of the Marx Brothers and the 19th century novelist Wilkie Collins and the American humourist Christopher Guest. And he has the best hair of any cellist this side of Mischa Maisky. He is Steven Isserlis and the British cellist is closing out the Chamberfest Concert Series accompanied by the Canadian pianist Connie Shih.

Musical partnerships

National Youth Choir of Canada
When: May 12 at 7:30 p.m.

An Evening curated by Yosuke Kawasaki
When: May 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets and information about the concert series:

Share Post
Written by

Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.