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Presenting our

2023/24 season



A Welcome Message

“I am excited to dive into my second season as Music Director of the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra with six unforgettable concerts that will transport you to new musical horizons. From timeless favourites by Beethoven, Dvorak, Mahler, and more; exciting works by Canadian composers; thrilling and dynamic soloists including young emerging talent from the next generation; to Walking Through the Fire, the new show from our friends Sultans of String, we have curated a diverse and thrilling season that celebrates the beauty and power of live symphonic music. Join us!”

– Martin MacDonald



8:00 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

Martin MacDonald, conductor
Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano

Kati Agócs*                       Shenanigan (2011)
Christine Donkin*              Three Autumn Scenes (2011)
Bramwell Tovey*                Ancestral Voices (2017)
Dvorak                                 Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, B. 178 New World


Our 2023-2024 season opens with three Canadian composers whose unique and expressive voices will be put on full display. Katie Agocs’ Shenanigan is full of buoyant energy, showing off the range of the orchestra capturing the essence of Atlantic Canada’s reels. Christine Donkin’s Three Autumn Scenes is beautifully descriptive, as we explore those first sounds and sights of a crisp autumn day. Written for acclaimed First Nations mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, Ancestral Voices is a powerful and thought- provoking song cycle written in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. Finally, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, one of the most famous symphonies of all time, is a sweeping drama inspired by his experiences during his stay in America.


8:00 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023
Martin MacDonald, conductor

Grazyna Bacewicz             Overture (1943)
Vaughan Williams             English Folk Song Suite
Kevin Lau*                           A Dream of Dawn (2014)
Beethoven                          Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 Eroica

The orchestra recognizes Remembrance Day with powerful composers and inspiration. Grayzna Bacewicz was concertmaster of the Polish Radio Orchestra before the start of WWII and an important composer who continued to give concerts in secret throughout the war, with her Overture (1943) written under occupation. Ralph Vaughan Williams was one of England’s greatest composers who continued to compose throughout both world wars. Canadian composer Kevin Lau was commissioned in 2014 to write a work commemorating the beginning of World War I, a work of gratitude through music to salute a generation of brave Canadians who gave their lives in service of their country. Often considered the birth of Romanticism, Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony is the composer’s musical answer against tyranny and oppression. The music is filled with tremendous struggle as it celebrates the heroism in each of us, and concludes with ultimate transcendence.


8:00pm Saturday, December 16, 2023
Martin MacDonald, conductor
Clair Cho, cello and Danita Zhang, piano
Winners of the 2023 North York Music Festival Concerto Competition

Humperdinck                     Hansel und Gretel: Prelude
Liadov                                 The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62
Tchaikovsky                       Selections from Sleeping Beauty: Suite, Op. 66a
Tchaikovsky                       Selections from Swan Lake: Suite, Op. 20a
Mendelssohn                     Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Ravel                                    Ma mère l’oye (Mother Goose): Suite
Lalo                                     Cello Concerto in D minor (1st movement)
Rachmaninoff                    Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (1st movement)

The orchestra takes you on a musical journey through the music of fairy tales in our symphonic history. Iconic themes from Tchaikovsky’s ballets transport you to another world of wonder and excitement, along with vivid and colourful works from Humperdinck and Liadov. Mendelssohn’s take on a Shakesperean fairy tale is a timeless classic and perfectly constructed and conceived. The centrepiece on the program is Ravel’s Mother Goose, an affectionate musical gift of little stories from Tom Thumb to Beauty and the Beast that are a magical garden of childlike wonder. Also featured on this program will a be young soloists and winners of the 2023 North York Music Festival Concerto Competition, showcasing the next generation of exceptional musicians in our community.


8:00pm Friday, February 2, 2024
Martin MacDonald, conductor
Sultans of String, guest artists

The orchestra has a long and celebrated history with the Sultans of String, and we are delighted to have them return to our stage with their new orchestral program, Walking Through the Fire – a beautiful collection of collaborations with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.


8:00 pm Saturday, April 20, 2024
Martin MacDonald, conductor
Jennifer Stephen, tuba

Smetana                              Vltava (The Moldau) from Ma Vlast
John Williams                     Tuba Concerto (1985)
Rimsky-Korsakov               Scheherazade, Op. 35

Vivid imagery is on full display on this program of orchestral blockbusters. Smetana’s The Moldau, taken from his larger work Ma Vlast, is an aural description of the river of the same name in a symphonic poem that celebrates the composer’s love and inspiration of his homeland. Rarely heard as a solo instrument, John Williams’ delightful and exhilarating Tuba Concerto shows off the agility and impressive velocity of the tuba, performed by the dynamic and wonderfully talented new Principal Tuba of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Jennifer Stephen. Rounding out the program is the ever-popular Scheherazade, based on One Thousand and One Nights, an orchestral showcase shimmering with intrigue and storytelling featuring most prominently our concertmaster, Alexander Gangurean.


8:00pm Saturday, May 25, 2024
Martin MacDonald, conductor
Joelle Crigger, violin

Bruch                  Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Mahler                Symphony No. 1 in D major Titan

The season concludes with Joelle Crigger, a fast-rising violin star who wowed our audiences in the 2022-2023 season with her lyrical and dynamic performance. Bruch’s beloved Violin Concerto in G minor is a true showstopper, from its deep emotional power, lyrical and dreamlike moments, to it’s energetic and thrilling conclusion that whips up into a wonderful orchestral frenzy. Finally, an expanded orchestra takes on the mighty and powerful Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler, often known as his Titan Symphony. This vast and evocative work, based on a collection of German folk poetry, is an epic orchestral experience filled with contrasts, poignant lyricism, and a rapturous finale.


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