Our five faves for Chamberfest 2017

The National Youth Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Darlington.

National Youth Orchestra of Canada: An NYO concert is always exciting because it’s a chance to hear the next generation of top Canadian orchestral musicians and soloists. Famous alumni include clarinet virtuoso James Campbell, Montreal Symphony principal viola Neal Gripp, and NACO’s own principal bass Joel Quarrington. On July 22, the orchestra’s hefty program will include Brahms’ Nänie, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration and the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with 19-year old Ottawa cellist Bryan Cheng, who just received the $25,000 Michael Measures Prize, a joint award between the NYO and the Canada Council. Jonathan Darlington conducts. July 22 at 7:30 p.m. Southam Hall. Free admission but tickets are required.

Stephen Hough: Hough is one of the greatest pianists alive. The Brit is also quick with the hashtag wit on Twitter, where he has 20,000 followers as @houghhough. In Ottawa his recital program will be heavy on Debussy, including the complete Images, with Schumann’s C major Fantasy and Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata thrown in the mix. July 23 at 7 p.m.  Dominion-Chalmers United Church. (Editor’s note: Watch for ARTSFILE’s interview).

Miró Quartet: The name is Spanish but the ensemble is Texan, y’all. Founded in 1995, the Miró has won just about every string quartet and chamber music competition out there, including the Banff and the Naumburg. The quartet will perform Haydn’s No. 56 in E-flat major, Op. 71, no. 3; Dvorák’s No. 9 in D minor, Op. 34; and Beethoven’s monumental No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131. Expect huge sound and exciting, extroverted style. July 25 at 7 p.m. Dominion-Chalmers. 

The Gamut with Carissa Klopoushak and Edwin Huizinga: Violinists Klopoushak and Huizinga are both serious classical musicians who also like to experiment with other genres and expressions. In this performance, the duo gathers the threads of wide-ranging musical traditions, from Baroque to Bulgarian and Ukrainian folk, and weaves them into a colourful tapestry. Aug. 2, 10 p.m., La Nouvelle Scène. (Editor’s note: Watch for ARTSFILE’s interview).

Sweat with the Bicycle Opera Project: When Du Yun won the composition Pulitzer this Spring for her Angel’s Bone, it triggered some heated discussion on social media about how seldom operas by women are staged. New Zealand-Canadian composer Juliet Palmer is getting her due this summer thanks to the Bicycle Opera Project. The Toronto-based ensemble–which, as its name suggests, tours by bike — has staged Palmer’s 2016 a cappella opera Sweat, about the international cheap garment industry and the women who work in it.  With a libretto by Anna Chatterton, the 70-minute piece explores themes dear to Palmer: the ethics of Western consumerism, women’s labour, and the dreams and hopes of people who are usually invisible to the rest of us. Various dates and locations. (Editor’s note: Watch for ARTSFILE’s interview)

For information on tickets, times and all the concerts, please see chamberfest.com.

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Natasha Gauthier has been covering classical music in Canada and the US for more than 20 years. She was the classical critic at the Ottawa Citizen, and was one of the founding critics of Montreal's HOUR Magazine. She has served on the classical music and dance juries for the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. You can also read her at her blog, www.talesfromtheredchair.com. Natasha has a BA in Journalism from Concordia University.