CMC BC Head Librarian Stefan Hintersteininger recently spent the weekend of October 19th through 22nd in Prince George, performing as guest principal cellist with the PGSO for the orchestra’s 2017/2018 New Beginnings season-opening concert, O Canada! Celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday. The concert was part of a larger festival in honour of Canada’s 150th, and included participation of the Prince George Conservatory of Music, the School District 37 Tapestry Singers, and the Prince George District Community Arts Council. The festival was made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, the Prince George Community Foundation, and the Government of Canada.

On Friday, October 20th, the Prince George Conservatory of Music, led by Artistic Director Allison Bell, presented a series of free workshops led by local professional musicians. PGSO Principal Clarinet Simon Cole gave a masterclass for young composers, some as young as eight years old. Each composer performed their piece on their own instrument. Simon Cole, himself a fine composer of concert works and film scores, offered thoughtful analysis and constructive suggestions for each piece. On Saturday evening, the Conservatory offered a lovely recital of Canadian works, performed by students and faculty, and including works by Michael Conway Baker, Morris Surdin, John Burge, Keith Bissell, R. Murray Schafer, Simon Cole (a dazzling and virtuosic Trio on Northern Themes), and many more.

The grand finale of the festival was the PGSO’s gala performance on Sunday afternoon, led by incoming Music Director Maestro Michael Hall. The concert opened with a blessing from an Elder of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, and began with a moving song, The Water Carries Us, composed by Kym Gouchie and Jennifer Pighin, performed by the Khast’an Drummers with the SD 37 Tapestry Singers.

It was a pleasure to work with Maestro Michael Hall. He is originally from Toronto, but has mostly made his career in the United States, where he is also presently Music Director of the Kennett Symphony in Pennsylvania. For this occasion, Hall assembled a cheerful, light-hearted program consisting almost entirely of works by Canadian composers. The concert included such favourites as Pierre Mercure’s virtuosic concert overture Kaleidoscope, Vancouver’s own Robert Buckley’s This Is My Home (first premiered at Expo 86) with the SD 37 Tapestry Singers, and Victor Davies’ ebullient Butterfly Dance from Good Times. The concert also included lesser-known but no less lovely works by legendary composer and trumpeter Johnny Cowell (his lushly-orchestrated Canadian Odyssey), Donald Coakley (Once a Canadian Lad), and Elliot Del Borgo (Canadian Legend).

At the conclusion of the performance, Stefan was pleased to present a Barbara Pentland Award of Excellence to the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, in recognition of the orchestra’s long history of presenting music by Canadian composers. The Prince George Symphony Orchestra was represented by board members Diane Rogers and John DeGrace.