Since 1976, the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra has been delighting audiences with their diverse programming, which has included works from the Baroque era to the present day. The ensemble has also been a great promoter of local talent by giving composers from the National Capital Region an opportunity to showcase their new pieces, such as the debut this past spring of Colin Mack’s violin concerto.
Now entering their 40th season, the orchestra is planning a special series of concerts that will start in October, and which will commemorate and celebrate their vital contribution to Ottawa’s classical music scene.
“I think the 40th anniversary season is spectacular,” says Kevin Mallon, the artistic director of Thirteen Strings, in an email interview.
The festivities begin on October 2 with a concert of Handel’s popular orchestral hits. The performance will include an expanded orchestra with drums, brass and woodwinds, and will take place at Dominion-Chalmers United Church (355 Cooper St.).
This opening concert is symbolic for its connection to the group’s initial performances.
“The orchestra started out in its first season by performing the complete set of Handel opus 6 concerti grossi,” Mallon tells Apartment613. “We revisit the works [in the 40th season] by performing several of these as well as presenting two complete baroque programs. Handel’s Fireworks and Water Music starts the season with a flourish.”
Following the October show, the season will continue with five other concerts, which include the popular Christmas candlelight show, a Baroque Easter performance on March 25, 2016, and a concert based on music from The Red Violin that takes place in April of next year.
The 40th season will also see the inauguration of the The Thirteen Strings/ University of Ottawa Composition prize, which will allow a top student to have one of their new works performed by the Orchestra.
The season will then conclude with a trio of performances in May 2016, in which the ensemble will perform jointly with Opera Lyra Haydn’s opera L’isola disabitata (the desert island).
This intriguing season is a fitting birthday celebration for an that has given so much to our region’s music scene.
“The Thirteen Strings has a unique place in the arts and culture in Ottawa,” says Mallon, who has been the Music Director of Thirteen Strings since the ensemble’s 2010-11 season.
“As Ottawa’s professional chamber orchestra we can offer music and programs that are on a particular scale — more chamber than symphonic and can feature baroque repertoire with the forces and style appropriate to the period. Also although the NAC is the centre of much classical music activity in the city, people also want to see music out in the community, which is what Thirteen Strings can offer.”
In addition to celebrating 40 years of great music, the ensemble is also planning on doing more recordings, with 2 CDs currently in the works that will showcase the music of Canadian composers John Burge and Peter Anthony Togni. (Thirteen Strings released its first recording in June 2014 on the Naxos Label).
The group also has ambitious touring and performing plans.
“We have expanded the orchestra’s activities by being featured at the Music and Beyond Festival, but we hope to start giving concerts in Gatineau,” says Mallon. “Thereafter we want to tour, in Ontario, further afield in Canada and also hope to start making international tours.”