CAST 活动信息

Celebration Gala Concert

    Celebration Gala is undoubtedly one of CAST’s most significant annual concerts.  This year’s performance gave CAST the pleasure of collaborating with many prominent artists. 

   In the evening of June 16, Scarborough Citadel was packed with families, friends, and music lovers alike who, from past experience, expected a magnificent performance ahead of them.  This evening’s concert proved to be of even higher caliber than the awaiting audience had anticipated.

   First on the program was “An Impression of Beautiful Southern China”, a piece composed by CAST’s conductor, Erhei Liang.  Before the full performance of this work, Dr. Liang addressed the audience about how the Sichuan dialect inspired him to compose the piece and how the dialect was depicted using short demonstrations from the orchestra.  This not only gave the audience some background information on the piece, but also provided them with an understanding that would help them appreciate the work at a higher level.  The performance of “An Impression of Beautiful Southern China” evoked a nostalgic response from the audience, especially for those who used to visit or live in Southern China.  The many contrasting themes and lively dynamics were portrayed beautifully by the orchestra.  The piece has many solo sections for different instruments to display their musical capabilities, and the powerful brass section with the drums enhances the work as a whole.  This work not only showcases strings virtuosity, but often, the wind and brass instruments play a big role in the orchestra. (For example, the oboe solo repeats various times throughout the piece.)  This piece requires a distinct connection between the conductor and the orchestra, owing to the complex and constant changes in meter.  The orchestral members all watched the conductor closely, leading to an incredibly united performance as a result.  From beginning to end, this enjoyable piece successfully captured the audience’s full attention.

 

    The orchestra subsequently accompanied Ms. Pei Zhen Huang in her singing performance of “Butterflies in Love with Flowers”, a Chinese traditional song in Suzhou Pingtan style composed by Zhao Kaisheng and arranged for orchestral accompaniment by Erhei Liang.  The performance began with a loud and resounding orchestral passage, followed by an extraordinary solo by Ms. Huang.  This work is highly virtuosic, and requires an excessive level of skill from the vocalist.  The audience was extremely impressed with the combination of Eastern singing alongside Western instruments.  It was also a great experience for CAST to work with Ms. Huang and perform a different genre of music than they typically perform.  

   Following “Butterflies in Love with Flowers”, two sisters performed the fourth movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, with Jocelyn Chu on the cello and Rebecca Chu playing the piano.  This piece needs a high degree of technique, musicality, and synchronization, all of which the sisters accomplished.  In addition, Jocelyn’s warm vibrato and Rebecca’s ease during even the most difficult of passages made their performance very powerful and sentimental.

   As part of a five-day visit from England to Canada, the University of Kent String Sinfonia performed “Serenade for Strings in E Minor” by Edward Elgar.  The group of ten string players coordinated incredibly well and were deeply involved in their performance.  The rich and beautiful chords were only possible thanks to the secure intonation of all the players.  The cello and bass provided a deep and resonant sound, serving as a baseline for the elegant melodies played by the violinists and violists.  This performance surely moved many of the audience members, creating a work that they would unlikely forget.

   Eros Tang next performed the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Minor by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.  Even non-musicians can comprehend how demanding this piece is.  Eros mastered the technical challenges presented in this piece, and his sense of musicality was favoured by both audience members and musicians.  As assistant concertmaster of this concert, Eros is very experienced and knows how to lead the orchestra in passages with tempo changes.  This was another performance that serves as a reminder to listeners the valuable role music plays in their lives.

    After a brief intermission, the Xiao Ping Chorus performed the “Sound of Music Choral Highlights” with CAST.  The music was composed by Richard Rodgers and arranged by John Leavitt.  This performance was much appreciated, since the majority of the audience members were familiar with the famous movie.  The collaboration between the orchestra, the conductor, and the chorus was extraordinary.  The choir sang with spirit and accurate intonation.  Their heart-warming performance was of high quality in many aspects, and CAST would definitely be thrilled to work with them again.

   Among the pieces showcased in the program was an orchestral work, “Beyond the Gate of Supreme Harmony”, by Canadian composer Kevin He.  Like Dr. Liang, Mr. He explained to the audience what had inspired him to write this piece.  The combination of all the instruments created rich harmonies, which worked very well together.  The percussion added grand effects to this piece, and the wind instruments helped maintain a quiet and subtle mood.  As the title implies, this piece goes beyond the typical harmony we use, and includes some perfect intervals that we normally don’t write in basic harmony.  Mr. He extended to further experiment with different intervals and methods of composing, which resulted in an amazing effect and took the audience back in time.

    The highlight of the concert came when the internationally renowned singer Hu Xiao Ping performed the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler’s famous Symphony No. 4.   With a voice that possesses exceptional clarity and warmth, Ms. Hu’s inflections of vibrato heightened the emotional capacity of this work.  She struck the high notes at seemingly great ease and with precise intonation.  Ms. Hu led the orchestra with clear movements and expressions.  Her musicality was top class, and she captivated the audience in her wonderful performance.  After the piece ended, the audience, in standing ovation, demanded an encore, in which Ms. Hu sang the “Song of Marino” with the orchestra.  The performance was spectacular.  Instead of the melancholy melody conveyed in Mahler’s Symphony, “Song of Marino” is a light and jolly piece, which served as a well-suited finale for the concert.  Ms. Hu completely depicted the animated atmosphere sought in this piece, and her encore delighted not only the audience, but the orchestra as well.  The end of Ms. Hu’s performance was met with thundering applause.  To say that her performance was well received would be an understatement. After bowing multiple times, Ms. Hu began to leave the stage, but to no avail.  The audience insisted on listening to the famous soprano sing once more.  After another repeat of the “Song of Marino”, the concert finally came to a conclusion.

    CAST helps assemble artists from all over Canada to enjoy a wide variety of music genres, and to appreciate music together.  Hopefully, younger generations will continue to preserve the multicultural environment and make Toronto a peaceful and vibrant city.

By Irene Huang