Ottawa Symphony breaks new ground in City Hall concert in November

This is the first prototype of a violin-like instrument made with the aid of a 3D printer for the Ottawa Symphony. A version will be used in a unique concert on Nov. 4 at Ottawa City Hall which will open the OSO season.

When Alain Trudel announced the 2018-19 season of music for the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra this past spring, he said the opening concert would be something special. 

Turns out he meant it.

The OSO will be breaking lots of new ground on Nov. 4. 

First, the event will be held at an unusual venue for the OSO … Ottawa City Hall. But much more important, this concert will see the unveiling of new instruments, manufactured by a 3D printer, and two new commissions: one by Harry Stafylakis and the other by Robert M. Lepage.

Much has been written about the OSO’s 3D String Theory project, and now this performance, which will be the OSO’s first-ever to be livestreamed and recorded, will see the realization of this effort. The broadcast will available at, starting at 12:45 p.m.

“We are very excited to be performing this concert in Ottawa City Hall. What better way to celebrate a city of innovation and strong civic pride in our vibrant culture,” Trudel said in a media release

Alain Trudel. Photo: Maude Chauvin

The Nov. 4 performance will be in two parts. The first half, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is free and will present five chamber music ensembles playing orchestral and 3D-printed instruments. The ensembles will be in different areas of the main hall. They will perform arrangements of J.S. Bach’s Art of the Fugue prepared by Trudel

Included in the first half of the event is a performance of Robert M. Lepage’s Is it a Bird?This piece will feature a 3D-printed, ergonomically-improved clarinet, designed by University of Ottawa PhD student, Robert Hunter. He won a competition led by the OSO and sponsored by Ottawa’s Marina Kun, president of Kun Shoulder Rest Inc., aimed at preventing injuries to musicians through a more ergonomic instrument design.

The second half of the event will be ticketed. It will run from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.. The OSO says it will be the first-ever to feature an acoustic 3-D string ensemble, an octet of eight-women who will premiere Singularity by Harry Stafylakis for 3D string octet and orchestra.

The second half will also see the OSO expand its musical horizons with a performance of Frank Zappa’s Naval Aviation in Art, along with Jean Féry Rebel’s Les Éléments and Le Chaos; Jeffrey Ryan’s Violet Crumble and Edgard Varèse, Octandre.

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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.