Fountain School's best and brightest set to shine at Concerto Night

- March 20, 2023

This year's Concerto Night will feature popular concerti and arias ranging from Mozart and Bruch to Jolivet and Lehar.
This year's Concerto Night will feature popular concerti and arias ranging from Mozart and Bruch to Jolivet and Lehar.

Ten student soloists will take the stage in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium Tuesday (March 21) to perform alongside the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra — the biggest close-up of their lives for many of the young performers.

The featured soloists were selected from a pool of 35 students who competed in an audition process last October for a chance to perform at Concerto Night, the Fountain School of Performing Arts’s most popular annual concert.

The competition proved to be an exceptional event to test the performers’ perseverance.

“I’ve played in many auditions and jury settings, but this was the most serious and formal,” says Caroline Boulter, a first-year violin student. “It made me feel like I was stepping up a level. But it was not a stressful experience.”

Caroline is joined this year by fellow soloists Mary Aileene Austin, Chloé Dionne, Victoria Dubois, Shanti Sivarulrasa, James Thomas, Hailey Coates, Maddie Maitzen, Charise Catarina Pohl, and Josh Robinson.

The concert will feature popular concerti and arias ranging from Mozart and Bruch to Jolivet and Lehar, all under the baton of Dr. Leonardo Perez and Peter Allen — two Fountain School professors. The concert also features a premiere of an orchestral work by a fourth-year composition student Dylan Hay.

Get your tickets for Concerto Night now.

Dr. Perez says Concerto Night is an amazing opportunity for students, especially those in first and second year.

“They don’t get these opportunities as early in their degree,” he says. “It is a unique experience for them. All of them work hard for it.”

A dream

Charise, a fourth-year voice student who started as an acoustic folk singer-songwriter under the alias Catarina Arbour, has fallen in love with classical music during her time at Dal. She describes her first rehearsal with the orchestra as challenging and nerve-racking, but also thrilling.

 “It was a dream come true,” she says. “Standing before the orchestra reminded me that this is why I am here.”

First-year flute student Hailey shares a similar sentiment, saying being a soloist was special as the orchestra “made me feel so much lighter in my playing.”

“I feel supported,” she adds.

Charise and Hailey are among the few music students debuting as soloists. They hope to savour all the memorable moments of such rare opportunities.

The Concerto Night’s concertmaster, Shanti, supports her colleagues by leading the string sections.

“I’d research and watch professionals on their bowing so that we [string sections] are prepared,” says Shanti. However, as a soloist, she says she finds it more enjoyable her second time this season. “I get to play something more Romantic (Bruch) where I can explore different kinds of sound. Not to mention that I got to rewrite the ending.”

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Music coming to life

Fourth-year composition student Dylan Hay is featured to debut his orchestral piece, Heavy Orc(h). Dylan’s musical background epitomizes the phrase well-rounded. He started out as a singer-songwriter on his guitar, has played brass in bands and orchestras, majored in trombone during his first two years of university, and now composes songs.

He sees common threads through all these types of music. “I don’t see them [music genres] so different from each other. Yes, they come from different places but are all connected.”

His orchestral piece was influenced by jazz and rock syncopations and off-beats, while incorporating the vast, powerful sound of orchestral music.

“Rhythmic music for an imagined battle with imaginary forces.,” he says. “The Orc(hestra) plays narrator, hero and villain, telling a story of impending calamity and the chaos of confrontation … imaginary adventures inspired by high fantasy and heavy metal.”

Dylan, who plays the trombone with Dalhousie orchestra, says the experience has been amazing.

“Hearing my music played by the orchestra for the first time was incredible and fulfilling,” he says. “And now I am playing with the orchestra. It made me feel so much closer to my composition.”

A big moment

“I am excited to play in the Cohn and to perform for a larger audience,” says Shanti.

Charise adds, "I am inviting everyone I know. I have never performed with the orchestra, let alone in the Cohn.”

Concerto Night take place next Tuesday, March 21, at 7.30 p.m. Masks are recommended for audience members. Get your tickets now.


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