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PROGRAM 3 • MAY 2022 • Benefit Concert

Thursday, May 12, 2022 • 8pm | Regent Theatre Oshawa

Performing Grieg & Tchaikovsky Concertos and Chopin • Among the most beloved piano music of all-time!

Two accomplished and striking pianists grace Ontario Philharmonic’s stage. After 2 long agonizing years, OP’s ‘Healing The Soul’ Benefit Concert introducing two of Ontario’s brightest pianists is on your doorstep.

Sheng Cai and Aljoša Jurinić have travelled the world’s most notable stages, leaving lasting impressions. Now, they are here, together, for OP’s momentous return to live concerts, under Maestro Marco Parisotto’s direction.

In this exciting return to the stage, comprising two of the most beloved piano concertos ever composed by Grieg and Tchaikovsky, our soloists also give samples of history’s greatest piano music by Chopin and Rachmaninoff.
Moments Musicaux Op.16, a selection - Sheng Cai, solo piano
          1. Moment Musical Op.16 no.4 in E minor
          2. Moment Musical Op.16 no.5 in D-flat major
          3. Moment Musical Op.16 no.6 in C major
Piano Concerto no.1 in B♭ minor, Op. 23
Aljoša Jurinić, piano soloist accompanied by Ontario Philharmonic
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 - Aljoša Jurinić, solo piano                                                                                                          Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16
Sheng Cai, piano soloist accompanied by Ontario Philharmonic
Frédéric CHOPIN
Edward GRIEG


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ALJOŠA JURINIĆ • biography

Hailed as “a startlingly subtle and visionary pianist” with “a rare blend of charm and mastery”, Aljoša Jurinić has established himself on the international stage at the world’s preeminent piano competitions. Best known for winning the 2012 International Robert Schumann Competition in the composer’s hometown of Zwickau, he was also a laureate at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition and the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition, as well as a finalist at the 2015 International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition. In 2019, the president of Croatia awarded him the Order of the Morning Star for out standing achievements in culture and the international promotion of his country. 

Aljoša Jurinićh as appeared as a soloist and with orchestras at prominent venues, such as the Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein, Salle Cortot (Paris), Gasteig (Munich),Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Osaka Symphony Hall, La Sala Verdi (Milan), BOZAR (Brussels), Lisinski Concert Hall (Zagreb), and Kolarac (Belgrade), as well as important festivals, including Serate Musicali (Milan), Chopin and His Europe (Warsaw), Chopin Festival (Nohant), From Easter to the Ascension(Tbilisi),  Kyiv Summer Music Evenings, Chopin Festival (Mariánské Lázně), International Keyboard Institute Festival (New York), Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Split Summer Festival, and others. During2018, he gave a series of concerts in China and the next year concert tours in both China and Japan. 

His orchestral performances include collaborations with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, Plauen-Zwickau Philharmonic, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kosovo Philharmonic, and Symphony Orchestra of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation, under the batons of esteemed conductors such as Marin Alsop, Jacek Kaspszyk, Ivan Repušić, Thierry Fischer, Edward Gardner, Bojan Suđić, Paul Meyer, Daniel Smith, and Leoš Svárovský. 

A keen chamber musician, Aljoša Jurinić performs in duos with the world-renowned musicians Petrit Çeku (guitar) and Luka Šulić (cello), the latter collaboration earning the prestigious Orlando Award at the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival. His discography includes a solo album, Chopin Alive, recorded at an all-Chopin recital published under Cristoforium Art, a CD box set of highlights from the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition, and his performance of R. Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, at the 2012 Robert Schumann Competition. In 2020,he released an album under KNS Classical featuring live performances of R. Schumann’s Fantasy, Op. 17, and F. Chopin’s 12 Etudes, Op. 25. 

Aljoša Jurinić holds a Concert Diploma (Konzertexamen) from the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, where he studied under Grigory Gruzman, and a Master’s Degree from the Academy of Music of the University of Zagreb, where he studied under Ruben Dalibaltayan. Other teachers who have contributed to his artistic development include Eliso Virsaladze, Noel Flores, and Jasna Reba.


Bornin Montreal of Italian lineage, Marco Parisotto is among Canada's foremost conductors on the international scene. A guest with orchestras around the globe, with unrelentingly high standards of performance, he continues to thrill audiences with his passionate musicmaking. He is the winner of seven major international competitions and crowned these achievements at the1997 “Besançon International Competition for Conductors”, being awarded both the Grand Prix as well as the Prix du Public - a historical first at this elite event.

As Artistic Director of the Ontario Philharmonic (OP), a title he has held for over two decades, he has earned praise for the orchestra’s development and adventurous performances, and he is credited with building OP to the high standard it enjoys today. Under his leadership, Ontario Philharmonic has received superlative audience and media recognition.

“…a fantastic orchestra [Ontario Philharmonic] being led by a first-rate conductor” • Musical Toronto.

Marco Parisotto’s close association with orchestras is manifested through the strong relationships he has maintained with ensembles under his leadership. In 2013,he was unanimously elected as Music Director of the Jalisco Philharmonic, transforming this ensemble into one of Latin America’s most distinguished orchestras. Under his direction, the Jalisco Philharmonic garnered international attention with its virtuosic performances and participated in recordings, tours, international festivals and major events such as Operalia, The World Opera Competition. During his tenure, the orchestra undertook major concert tours eliciting great critical and public acclaim as they visited Germany, Austria, the USA and Mexico in leading concert halls of Berlin, Munich, Essen, Vienna, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Busan and Mexico City. As well, through Maestro Parisotto, the orchestra completed significant commercial recording projects, starting with the Philharmonic’s first release under the SONY Classical label.

“Amidst this exciting pillar of sound growing constantly, stands Marco Parisotto. Under his control, directing the orchestra with the greatest finesse, like an architect he gives precise instructions that develop into a majestic edifice of sound…  He ingeniously manages the full spectrum of colors of his orchestra… We hope that this fantastic orchestra with this dynamic conductor will visit our German concert halls more frequently, bringing with them their style of spicy and fiery music-making.” •Klassik Begeistert, Raphael Eckardt

Following a special concert celebrating Canada-China relations in 1999 at the Grand Theatre in Shanghai, Marco Parisotto was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until2003.

Marco Parisotto has won critical and public praise for his interpretations of the great Austro-German repertoire - as R. Strauss, Bruckner, Wagner, and as an avid Mahlerian. He has also been acclaimed for his readings of Russian masters as Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and for his passionate performances in the operatic field. He has led productions including, among others, Pagliacci, Cavalleria Rusticana, Carmen, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, La Boheme, Aida, Rigoletto, Don Giovanni and Turandot.

“The star of the evening was without a doubt Marco Parisotto…inspired, passionate and in a virtual state of grace, impressing a supreme flow and agility to this extremely challenging opera [Puccini’s Turandot].” •Opera World.

Marco Parisotto has appeared in major concert halls throughout the world, conducting many leading orchestras including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano "La Verdi", Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano, New Jersey Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, Busan Philharmonic, Osaka Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, Erfurt Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, Georges Enescu Philharmonic, Janacek Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National du Capitole deToulouse, Opéra de Bordeaux, Opéra de Marseille, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Philharmonique de Liège. He was received with great enthusiasm at the international Festivals of Evian, Menton, Besançon, Festival Cervantino, Wieniawski International Festival (Poland), May Festival of Guadalajara, Festival of Opera in Jalisco, Skaneateles Festival New York, Busan Maru International Music Festival and Bolzano Festival; at the Montreal Opera, Shanghai Opera, Opera Giuseppe Verdi di Trieste, Serbian National Theatre; in Mexico with the Mexico City Philharmonic, Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM, Orquesta Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes, Orquesta Sinfonica de UANL, Camerata de Coahuila, Sinfonica Carlos Chavez, Camara de Bellas Artes, Orquesta de Baja California; in China with the Shanghai Symphony, China National Symphony and Gui Yang Symphony. He has also led to acclaim the Polish National Radio Symphony, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, Orchestra Nazionale della RAI of Torino, Orquesta de Cordoba, Orchestre de Bayonne Côte-Basque. On several occasions, at Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris, he was a guest of Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux.  

Marco Parisotto is the winner of seven important international competitions. Aside from his noteworthy awards at the prestigious Besançon Competition, joining the ranks of maestros like Seiji Ozawa and Michel Plasson, other top prizes have included the Tokyo International Conductors' Competition in Japan, Constantin Silvestri Competition in Romania and the Antonio Pedrotti in Italy. He was moreover honored with all other special awards at these events.  

He took his training both as a violinist and pianist and studied conducting with eminent maestros including Leonard Bernstein. Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Brück, Yuri Temirkanov, Georg Tintner and, initially, with Raffi Armenian at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec in Montreal.

SHENG CAI • biography

Recently described as "having the inner passion paired with Rubinstein's nonchalance" by Thüringer Allgemeine in Germany, Canadian pianist Sheng Cai has embraced the keyboard tradition which epitomizes the greatness of the romantic virtuoso. His performances of major keyboard works of the past centuries have touched audiences and won the praise of critics on four continents. The Toronto Star headlined “This is a young man with real talent... from a clear, singing tone to a subtle sense of rubato to a judicious choice of tempi " and described as a pianist " with great confidence... gave more lucidity, color and power" by the Birmingham News. Sheng Cai has been honoured with a number of prizes and awards and continues to push the boundaries in interpreting both the established and rarities of the piano literature.

Since his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at just fifteen years old, Sheng Cai has performed a broad spectrum of concerto repertoire from Mozart to 21st century composers with invitations to dozens of orchestras worldwide as guest soloist. Recent concerto performances include invitations to perform with the Toronto Symphony, Quebec Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Windsor Symphony, Canton Symphony of Ohio, Fort Collins Symphony, New Bedford Symphony, Irving Symphony of Texas,  and with Shanghai Symphony, Shenzhen Symphony as well as with Philharmonisches Orchester Erfurt in Germany, Krakow Philharmonic of Poland, North Czech Philharmonic, Jalisco Philharmonic and Orquesta Filarmonica Boca del Rio of Mexico, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota in Colombia among many others. In Canada, Sheng Cai was also invited to perform with the Vancouver Symphony for the lunar New Year Gala Concert and has performed with numerous regional orchestras in the US and Canada from coast to coast such as Kingston, Kamloops, Folsom Lake symphonies, Glacier symphony of Montana. He has recently worked with many conductors such as Keith Lockhart, Yoav Talmi, David Lockington, Robert Moody, Charles Olivieri-Munroe, Myron Michailidis, Donato Cabrera, Robert Franz, Dina Gilbert, Guoyong Zhang, Marco Parisotto and Eckart Preu.

In solo recitals, Sheng Cai has been heard in many prestigious venues in North America, such as Steinway Hall in New York, Jordan Hall in Boston, Chicago's international Music Center, the Cleveland Play House, the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, CBC's Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, and other distinguished venues in Stratford, Elora, Montreal and Winnipeg. In China, he inaugurated the Ningbo concert hall, giving both recitals and concerto performances. As a chamber musician, Sheng Cai has collaborated with a number of fine artists, including the Enso String Quartet. Many of his performances have been broadcast on across North America such as CBC Radio Canada and WCLV Radio station in USA.

by John Green

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23

The term ballad(e) first came into use historically a sa French poem-song commonly played by early minstrels throughout England and Europe. Originally, the pieces were intended to be sung or danced to. During the Romantic Period they evolved into solo instrumental works, most often for the piano. Frederic Chopin adopted the term under his compositional genius and wrote four Ballades between 1831 and 1842. Each is a particularly singular work, distinctly separate from the other three, all containing difficult and technical challenges.  At the time, the pieces were considered to be somewhat of a novelty; no other composer had ever used the term to describe music for solo piano.   
The No. 1 in G minor was completed in 1835 and grew from sketches Chopin made while residing in Vienna in 1831. The main sections of the work are composed around two themes: the first in G minor includes passages of remarkable musical complexities. The second theme in E flat major, is again followed by dramatic technical development. Chopin concludes the piece with a rousing Presto—rapid scales that signal the end of the Ballade followed by energized octaves and final forte chords.

The Ballade in G Minor is among Chopin’s most popular works; its elegance, melodic abundance and technical mastery make in nothing less than a stunning showpiece. On one occasion, after Robert Schumann heard the Chopin Ballade played by the composer in Leipzig, his comment was simple and to the point: “I have heard a new Ballade by Chopin. It seems to me to be the work of his genius. I have told him it is my favourite of all his works.”

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor

One of the most popular of all piano concertos was composed by Edvard Grieg in 1868.   It is among the earliest of his important works and the only piano concerto he finished. It was an ambitious undertaking that provides ample evidence of Grieg’s love of Norwegian folk melodies; his music is respected and recognized through an embodiment of the land and its people.            

Music analysts have long claimed that the A minor concerto’s genesis was Grieg’s having heard a performance of Robert Schumann’s A minor concerto played by Clara Schumann. James Keller, music critic with the San Francisco Symphony, comments, “It is perfectly normal for audience members hearing Grieg’s Piano Concerto to remark on how very much it reminds them of Schumann’s Piano Concerto—in both cases in the key of A minor, in both cases representing the composer’s only full-fledged entry in the genre.”            

It would be irresponsible, however, to suggest that Grieg’s concerto is simply an imitation of Schumann’s. The Grieg concerto has individual qualities pointing directly at the composer’s originality; it exhibits the distinctiveness of his own voice. Nowhere in the entire concerto is this more evident than in the folk-inflected finale, a movement greatly admired by both Liszt and Tchaikovsky.        

A note of interest: Grieg’s A minor concerto was the first piano concerto ever recorded. It was engineered in 1909 by German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, but because of the limited technology of the time it was heavily abridged; the entire concerto ran just six minutes.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Moment Musicaux Opus 16

The story of Sergei Rachmaninov’s career as pianist, conductor and composer is somewhat unusual. He lived his life over the border of two centuries. Considered to be the last of the great Russian Romantic composers, his compositional style was locked into the 19thCentury. But as the impending 20th Century loomed he began witnessing monumental changes in music, changes he was not inclined to embrace. Referring to his contemporaries, including such luminaries as Glazunov and Jean Sibelius, he remarked to music critic Leonard Liebling:

“I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien. I cannot cast out the old way of writing, and I cannot acquire the new. I have made intense efforts to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me. Unlike Madame Butterfly with her quick religious conversion, I cannot cast out my musical gods in a moment and bend the knee to new ones.”

This disinclination toward the new had its consequences.

In the fall of 1896, the twenty-three year old Rachmaninov found himself in dire monetary circumstances. He had recently been robbed of his finances during a train trip and was under the added pressure of the demand for a promised symphony. To a fellow composer he wrote, "I hurry in order to get money I need by a certain date ... This perpetual financial pressure is, on the one hand, quite beneficial as by the 20th of this month I have to write six piano pieces."

The happy result of this unfortunate situation was the Moments Musicaux, Op.16,composed between October and December of that year—an impressive output for such a short time period. Despite the seemingly hasty production, the six pieces that make up Moments Musicaux are anything but insubstantial. Had the composer been able to write within a less constraining atmosphere he could not have surpassed the sheer musicality of these masterworks. Each displays an individual form requiring considerable virtuosity, distinctly different levels of complexity, and unequalled melodic beauty, certainly in keeping with the composer’s firmly planted romantic roots.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor

On Christmas Eve, 1874, Tchaikovsky’s close friend, pianist Nicholas Rubinstein, played the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Rubinstein’s reaction to the piece was nothing less than frigid. At its conclusion Tchaikovsky recalled, “a torrent of words from Rubinstein, ‘your concerto is utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable, passages are commonplace and awkward’”—harsh criticism for what would soon become one of the best-known, best loved and most often performed masterworks in the entire classical repertoire. At its formal premiere in the United States, Boston in1875, it was a monumental success and has remained so ever since.            

The work follows the traditional pattern of three movements. The first, marked Allegro non Troppo e Molto Maestoso, opens and introduces the movement’s initial theme. Part of its development Tchaikovsky said he had heard sung by a blind beggar in the Ukrainian folk song, The Song of the Blind. It is unmistakably one of Tchaikovsky’s most recognized and best-loved melodies.      

Movement two, Andantino Semplice, follows Tchaikovsky’s frequent habit of “borrowing quotes”. This one, in the middle section, is from the French melody Il faut s’amuser, danser et rire, (One Must Have Fun, Dance and Laugh).            

The final third rondo movement is marked Allegro con fuoco. Complete with enthusiastic Russian folk melodies it is an incomparable romp between piano and orchestra. As one critic put it:  “a miracle of thematic invention and orchestral technique”, virtuosity that brings the concerto to a dazzling ending.            

Among all the piano concertos written before or after, the work has gained a popularity beyond comparison. It is estimated today that one could not identify any orchestra world-wide that has not had, more than once, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 on its play list.