If there was an applause-o-meter at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, it would have gone off the dial as three local soloists performed during the RDSO’s Red Deer’s Got Talent concert.
The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra delivered an emotionally charged program on Saturday night, featuring three talented young musicians who each got their start in Central Alberta.
First out of the gate was Red Deer violist Stephanie Galipeau, who trained with local teacher (and RDSO violinist) Louise Stuppard before continuing her post-secondary studies at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York, where she’s now a senior.
The Victoria Conservatory of Music graduate and recipient of many fellowships and scholarships performed Carl Philipp Stamitz’s gorgeously restrained Viola Concert in D Major
The neoclassical piece balances decorous passages with a sense of spareness, even austerity. Galipeau developed an interesting interplay with the orchestra as the composition traded her moody solos with more dramatic orchestral outbursts.
Precision and a controlled emotional range is required for this graceful concerto, and Galipeau delivered an elegant, tonally rich performance.
Camille Saint-Saens’s epic Cello Concerto in A Minor featured the bold, colourful playing of Red Deer-born Rylan Gajek-Leonard.
The cellist has played around the world — including at Carnegie Hall with his string quartet, with the National Youth Orchestra, and on entertainer Raffi’s 2009 children’s album. But Gajek-Leonard got his start with instructor (and RDSO cellist) Janet Kuschak before moving to B.C., and now majoring in music and mathematics at the Bard College Conservative of Music in New York State.
The difficult Saint-Saens piece runs the emotional gamut. RDSO conductor Claude Lapalme described it as being “happy, then there’s anxiety, and all of a sudden there’s a little lullaby in it, then it gets jolly with a touch of melancholy, then again it’s very active…”
Gajek-Leonard managed all the mood swings with gusto — he plays like a painter, throwing dashes of colour against canvas to evoke everything from joy to pathos.
His expressive performance with the orchestra earned him a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of the concert. I suspect this was also meant for the other talented young soloists, including Susanna Heystek of Rocky Mountain House.
The 17-year-old, who won the chance to play with the RDSO at the Red Deer Performing Arts Festival, and also studied with Stuppard, was the soloist on Ludwig van Beethoven’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2.
Heystek beautifully captured the wistful poetry of this dream-like work. The concert master for the Red Deer Youth Orchestra can be a delicate player, but she can also rise to the challenge of the more exuberant passages in this lilting Romance.
The evening started with the RDSO’s wind section performing the upbeat Harmonie For Wind Octet by Bohemian composer Franz Krommer. While the tuneful selection involved some astounding clarinet playing, it’s just as well it was first on the program.
These three young, locally trained soloists would have been hard acts to follow.