With summer now officially behind us, Winnipeg is ready to spring forward into arts season. One of my favourite winter traditions is attending live musical performances by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO), who have put together another all-star season that has something to appeal to music lovers of all ages and tastes.
Having already attended a few performances from this season’s launch, I’m always in awe of the talent onstage – the WSO’s musicians are performing as well as any symphony in Canada every time the conductor’s baton comes up. With a whole season of live symphonic performances across various musical genres, there is undoubtedly a performance ready to blow you away.
This year’s season includes a spotlight on world-renowned soloists and conductors alongside the talent of the symphony and its musicians. Talents such as trombonist Jörgen van Rijen, pianist Lukáš Vondráček, and conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser will all have their turn under the spotlight. Not to be outdone, you can expect WSO musicians to shine, both as an ensemble and featuring local soloists from within the symphony’s ranks.
The concerts themselves have been selected to create a musical season with universal appeal. Names you might recognize, such as Beethoven and Mozart, will be featured alongside a wide range of the classical canon, including Strauss, Handel and beyond. Part of what makes a night of classical music so engaging is the emotions it can bring to the listener. Stravinsky’s Firebird suite (March 23) requires manic energy from its performers that will be heard in every note. Your heartstrings might also be plucked by Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (March 7) or carried away by 20th-century classics composed by Gershwin and Ravel (May 11).
You’re never too young to enjoy the symphony, and the WSO is ready to treat its younger audiences with lively performances. This year’s Kids Concerts includes circus performers (February 25) and African folk tales (May 3). Make sure to bring your budding musicians to the pre-concert activities, including an instrument petting zoo! There won’t be an age limit to the Troupe Vertigo holiday event (December 2-3), where aerial acrobatics will accompany live holiday music. A blend of symphonic instruments and Celtic fiddles will have families toe-tapping along with Natalie MacMaster (October 28-29).
Have you ever listened to a thrilling soundtrack that completely elevates the film you’re watching? No surround sound will ever compare to an orchestra playing that score live alongside the film. This season, the WSO is putting on its Hollywood best with box office smash hits, including Frozen (November 25-26), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (March 15-16), and Star Wars: A New Hope (May 3-4) – all featuring some of the film’s most popular motifs.
Movie lovers can get their holiday fix at the symphony as well. Just in time for Halloween, Frankenstein (October 20) will come alive onscreen while Christmas cheer will be spread for all to hear during Elf (December 8-9). As well a focus on some of the film’s greatest scores will be highlighted in a performance of Oscar-winning soundtracks (April 6-7).
Get your tickets
While the WSO’s season is already underway, there are plenty of opportunities to attend any performances you like. Season packages are still available, while regular attendees can subscribe to WSO Unlimited - where a monthly membership will allow you to get tickets for just $5 each. Symphony fans under the age of 40 can also enroll in the Soundcheck program, with significant discounts on ticket prices and access to exclusive events throughout the season.
To help create a full-evening event, a new Thursday Classics series ushers in an intermission-free 75-minute concert starting at 7:00 p.m. – providing an opportunity for a pre- or post-concert trip to one of the Exchange District’s wonderful restaurants. Some restaurants, breweries and distilleries –all walkable from the concert hall – even offer discounts to ticket-carrying WSO patrons to help elevate your evening.
A new ‘UnTuxed’ series has also launched this year, with hour-long noontime concerts in a more casual environment featuring a selection from the evening programs. Is your social calendar already booked for the night of a WSO performance? You just might be able to stop by the Centennial Concert Hall for a lunchtime serenade instead.
Visit wso.ca to learn more about upcoming concerts and how you can continue to support your Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.