For the first time ever, The National Youth Orchestra of Canada partnered with The European Union Youth Orchestra for a historic collaborative tour of Ontario and Quebec. The tour reunited members of our orchestra from years past, while allowing them to forge new musical partnerships with musicians from across Europe.
The orchestra convened for the first time only three days before the first concert in Toronto’s Koerner Hall. However, under the guidance of esteemed conductor Sascha Goetzel, both orchestras gelled together naturally, and even in the small rehearsal room in The Meridian Arts Centre, you could tell that this was going to be a special tour. Maestro Goetzel, from Vienna, inspired the musicians to reach new heights as they weaved through a stunning repertoire featuring Wagner, Stravinksy, Rossini, and Canadian composer John Estacio’s Frenergy.
NYO alum Blake Pouliot joined the orchestra as a guest soloist, and he provided a spellbinding performance on Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Ravel’s Tzigane. Blake also treated the audience in Koerner Hall to his own special composition, to celebrate the first time he had been on stage at Koerner Hall since winning the 2013 Michael Measures Prize with NYO Canada.
Following a stunning concert at Koerner Hall, the musicians packed up for another concert at the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston. With an orchestra of 75 musicians, this was no easy task, and thanks to our partners at VIA Rail, we were able to quickly travel from city to city. After Kingston, the Frenergy orchestra convened again in Montreal, for their third concert in three days at the gorgeous Basilique Notre-Dame. The magical venue was the perfect backdrop as the orchestra entertained a crowd of over a thousand attendees, who provided donations to The Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s educational program, La Musique aux enfants.
After a day off in Montreal, the orchestra travelled to Ottawa, where the European and Canadian musicians enjoyed a tour of Canadian Parliament before a concert at the marvelous National Arts Centre. The European musicians had the opportunity to perform for ambassadors and dignitaries from their own countries, and the Canadian musicians showcased why they’re the pride of Canada’s musical future. The concert concluded with a joint encore: the orchestra performed NYO’s traditional choral piece, Lead Us Home by Canadian composer Matthew Emery, and following warm embraces, the orchestra played together for one last song, this time the EUYO’s traditional encore.
It was a whirlwind week, and it was hard to believe that these musicians had first met only days before. Each of the four Frenergy Tour concerts were captivating, with breathtaking performances from all our musicians. Through intense rehearsals and a sprawling, swift tour, the EUYO and NYO forged bonds that will remain strong forever. We look forward to collaborating with our European Union counterparts in the future!