RDSO to feature famed tenor in gala

2013-2014 season packed with musical gems

Organizers behind the annual Red Deer Symphony Orchestra gala have decided to try something new. Instead of the usual September date, the event has been moved to next spring.

International superstar Ben Heppner, one of the greatest heroic tenors to be seen and heard in generations, will be joining the RDSO for a special gala performance in the upcoming 2013-14 season.

Presented at the Red Deer College Arts Centre main stage on March 26, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., a variety of repertoire will be offered.

Attendees will enjoy Heppner’s performance of operatic favourites with a large orchestra for half of the concert. The other half will feature solo repertoire with Heppner and his pianist.

A pre-concert champagne reception and post-concert dessert reception will be provided by the Black Knight Inn’s renowned Chef.

“The decision to change the format of our annual gala was not an easy one,” states Melody McKnight, executive director.

“Our patrons still enjoy the elegant gala evening that has been held at the Black Knight Inn for years, with the exceptional food and entertainment. However, attendance has been slowly declining, as has the silent and live auction revenue.”

While the RDSO expects to return to the dinner and auction format in future years, this change has provided a solution to several on-going challenges.

“This gala allows us to meet our patrons’ demands for more performances in our season, with an internationally-acclaimed guest artist. It will also involve the entire orchestra in the gala for the first time. From a fundraising perspective, it’s also a more efficient use of our funds, with less demand on staff and volunteer time.”

Heppner is renowned worldwide for his portrayals in the dramatic tenor repertoire.

His illustrious career has taken him to opera stages and concert halls around the world. His performances on the opera stage, in concert with the world’s leading orchestras, in the most prestigious recital venues, and in recordings have set new standards in his demanding repertoire.

Heppner’s repertoire includes the most challenging roles, from Wagner’s Tristan and Lohengrin to Verdi’s Otello and Berlioz’s Aeneas. Many of his greatest portrayals have been revealed in new productions at The Metropolitan Opera.

Heppner studied music at the University of British Columbia, and first gained national attention in 1979 as the winner of the Canadian Broadcasting Company Talent Festival.

He is a 1988 winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions and received Grammy® Awards in 1998 for his recording of Die Meistersinger on London/Decca records and in 2001 for his recording of Les Troyens with the London Symphony Orchestra on LSOLive.

Tickets for this concert are available through the Black Knight Ticket Centre – charge by calling 403-755-6626 or 1-800-661-8793, or visit www.bkticketcentre.ca.

Meanwhile, RDSO staff are gearing up for an exciting line up of mainstage concert for the 2013-2014 season. Things kick off with ‘Bold and Beethoven’ on Oct. 5. The performance takes place on the Arts Centre mainstage starting at 8 p.m. and features guest pianist Corey Hamm.

Audiences will enjoy such sonic treats as Nobles’ Idee Fixe for Piano and Orchestra, Faure’s Fantasie op. 111 and Beethoven’s exquisite masterpiece Symphony No. 8.

‘London Calling’ will be presented on Nov. 2 with guest artist Leslie Newman on flute. Pieces include McGrath’s Flute Concerto, Arnold’s Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104.

‘Yuletide Delights’ is set for Dec. 7 with guest artists the Rosedale Valley Strings. A selection of Christmas favourites by Bach, Bizet and Mozart will be featured, along with a new composition by RDSP music director Claude Lapalme and A Charlie Brown Christmas by Guaraldi/Pugh.

The New Year begins with ‘Voices of Heaven’ on Feb. 22 at Gaetz Memorial United Church. Guest artists Early Music Voices will be onhand to perform Bach’s B minor Mass.

‘Angles of Amadeus’ runs April 26 on the Arts Centre mainstage with guest artist Allene Hackleman on horn, and the season wraps up with ‘A Stroll Through Red Square’ on May 16. The RDSO will be joined by Edmonton Symphony Orchestra music director Bill Eddins. The concert will also feature pianist Katherine Chi.

Meanwhile, gala tickets are $150, or $125 for RDSO Main Series subscribers.

-Weber

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