LSM Newswire

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pinchas Zukerman leads NACO's first-ever performance of Brahms' German Requiem

Pinchas Zukerman leads NAC Orchestra in its first-ever performance of Brahms’ German Requiem on June 18-19

Ottawa (Canada) – Music Director Pinchas Zukerman leads the National Arts Centre Orchestra in its first-ever performance of Brahms’ sublime German Requiem (Ein deutsches Requiem) as a grand finale to the 2008-09 season with soprano Nicole Cabell (making her NAC Orchestra debut), baritone Nathan Berg, and three choirs combined under the direction of chorus master Duain Wolfe – the Ottawa Choral Society (Matthew Larkin, director), Ottawa Festival Chorus (Laurence Ewashko and Duain Wolfe, directors) and Cantata Singers of Ottawa (Michael Zaugg, director). These Bostonian Bravo Series concerts on Thursday, June 18 and Friday, June 19 at 8 p.m. in the NAC’s Southam Hall open with Capital BrassWorks alternating with a women’s chorus in works by Bach and Brahms.

On Friday, June 19 only, there is a Musically Speaking pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. This exploration of the Brahms German Requiem will be led by star soprano-teacher Benita Valente (on the faculty of the NAC Summer Music Institute) and demonstrated by young soprano Maghan Stewart and baritone Jonathan Estabrooks accompanied by pianist Jean Desmarais. This entertaining and informative lecture-demonstration, hosted by Paul Lefebvre, is free.

Brahms considered calling this Requiem the “Human Requiem”. With a gentle setting of “How lovely is thy dwelling place” as its centrepiece, it is intended to comfort the bereaved and give them peace and hope. The composer’s crowning achievement, the German Requiem ranges from radiant to dramatic. Brahms began the Requiem when he was only 23 and suffering from the loss of Schumann, his dear friend and mentor – and he completed it three years after the death of his mother.

The opening half of this program features Capital Brassworks, a 12-member ensemble made up of brass players from the NAC Orchestra, in transcriptions of three Bach numbers, two of which are introduced by the respective chorales upon which they are based performed by a women’s choir singing unaccompanied – “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (Jesus bleibet meine Freude) and “Sleepers, Wake” (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). As an interlude in this Bach encounter, the women’s choir joins two horns and a harp for a group of Brahms songs that, due to their unusual scoring, are rarely heard in live performance but which are among the most divinely beautiful ever written. The evening opens with Bach’s Fantasia in C major performed by Capital BrassWorks.

California-born soprano *Nicole Cabell, the 2005 Winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competition in Cardiff, and a DECCA recording artist, has received tremendous public and critical acclaim for her work in opera, concert and recital. This season included her debut season at the Metropolitan Opera, and this summer, she makes her Hollywood Bowl debut as Clara in Porgy and Bess. Next season she returns to the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony.

Baritone Nathan Berg made his debut at the National Arts Centre in 1998, and his most recent appearance was last season, singing Mendelssohn’s Elijah. A winner of prizes in the Royal Over-Seas League, Peter Pears, Kathleen Ferrier and Walther Gruner Lieder Competitions, Mr. Berg’s musicality and artistry continues to receive international critical acclaim. His operatic credits include the Canadian Opera Company, New York City Opera, and Bayerische Staatsoper.

*Nicole Cabell replaces soprano Erin Wall. (However Erin Wall will perform with the NAC Orchestra in Opera Under the Stars on July 24 as part of Orchestras in the Park.)

Tickets for these Bostonian Bravo Series concerts on Thursday, June 18 and Friday, June 19 at 8 p.m. are on sale now at $19.00, $39.00, $49.00, $59.00, $69.00 and $86.00 (GST and Facility Fee included) at the NAC Box Office (Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111. Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website at

Half-price tickets for students in all sections of the hall are on sale in person at the NAC Box Office upon presentation of a valid student ID card. Live Rush tickets (subject to availability) for full-time students (aged 13 to 29) are $11 at the NAC Box Office from 2 p.m. the day before the concert to 6 p.m. the day of, upon presentation of a valid Live Rush card.

Groups of 10 and more save 15% to 20% off the regular price of tickets to NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances. To reserve your seats call 613-947-7000 ext. 384 or email

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