By Valerie Hill
KITCHENER — When Edwin Outwater, the K-W Symphony’s artistic director, plans a new season, he focuses on excitement and compelling performances with a twist of something completely different.
“It’s getting people out of their heads,” he said. “When people come tell me they don’t understand it (music): it’s not an intellectual exercise, it’s emotional.”
Like trying to appreciate modern art, sometimes audiences try to dig too deeply instead of just feeling and enjoying the music, being open to new experiences.
For the upcoming 2014/2015 season, announced Feb. 13, Outwater has planned plenty of concerts designed to help audiences grasp the symphony’s particular vibe, everything from circus to Shakespeare, with a big dollop of beloved classics, a sprinkling of roots and a dash of old rock and roll.
This season marks the 69th for the symphony and will feature more than 70 concerts in eight series, with 35 special guest artists. The season launches with the Signature Series, Time for Three and Encores! on Sept. 5 and 6, a concert of some of the world’s greatest music, including Grieg’s Peer Gynt and several favourite encores from Britten, Fauré and Glinka, among others. All too often, Outwater says, encores are overlooked.
These additional pieces of music added on to the end of a concert can be just as challenging for the musicians and should not be dismissed.
“There’s so much great, short music for orchestra,” he said.
Highlights of the season include many new ways of presenting music, including Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in January 2015, which will feature the Grand Philharmonic Choir’s female chorus, two soloists, as well as actors from Stratford Festival. Outwater said the concert will explain how Mendelssohn’s musical score pulls the story along.
“How does Mendelssohn’s music bring Shakespeare to life?” said Outwater. “That will be incredible.”
He has also planned a more detailed study into the works of great composers.
Edwin’s Guide to Stravinsky, in April 2015, will look closely at the composer’s unique style and his musical tributes to composers he admired such as Bach and Debussy.
The Mozart Phenomenon, in March 2015, will recount stories about the composer and feature a performance by a young, as yet unnamed pianist, about the same age as Mozart when he wrote the music.
“We play Mozart every year, but we’re going to mix it with stories about Mozart,” said Outwater. “He was a child star. He had super human abilities.”
In the Pops Series, starting this September, Cirque Mechanics and the symphony share the stage for the first time. The circus troupe combines acrobatics with enormous and complex mechanical wonders.
Yuletide Spectacular in December is a concert that has become an annual tradition.
“There was no Yuletide concert at all when I came here, none,” said Outwater.
In the Intersections Series — which seeks to bring together unexpected elements — the symphony reaches beyond Canada’s borders, welcoming the music of China and “bridging musical cultures,” said Outwater.
Through a local Chinese cultural connection, the symphony created a competition for composers in China and the winning composition will be performed February 2015 in the Friendship: A Journey to China concert.
The symphony will also be celebrating Canadian composers, featuring their music in four different Signature series concerts. The composers will be present to interact with the audience and in November 2014, Writers on Music, a co-production with Words Worth Books in Waterloo, will present well-known Canadian authors who will read passages from their own books, followed by music which will reflect the perfect mood.
In April 2015, the visual comes together with the musical in Visual Music: The World of Tess Girard. Girard is a Toronto-based filmmaker and cinematographer.
The special concert series will include Randy Bachman leading the symphony through a series of old rock and roll hits in October 2014. In 2015, special concerts will include KW Glee Live! and in March, the beloved tenor, John McDermott, will be featured.
The season will, of course, also feature family series, kinderconcerts, baroque and beyond.
“Each concert is always an experience,” he said. “Our job is to inspire.”
For details on K-W Symphony’s upcoming concerts, visit kwsymphony.ca or call KWS Patron Services at 519-745-4711 or toll-free at 1-888-745-4717.