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Jaap Nico Hamburger: “Piano Concerto”

Jaap Nico Hamburger: Piano Concerto from celebrated composer Jaap Nico Hamburger – performed by pianist Assaff Weisman.
The recording was produced by Vancouver-based Misha Aster and the work was performed by pianist Assaff Weisman and l’Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under the direction of Vincent de Kort. This dramatic concerto is full of drive, explosive energy and pathos. While reminiscent of great works by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, it is truly a unique work among Canadian piano concertos and  modern classical compositions. 

Jaap Nico Hamburger is the current Composer in Residence with Mécénat Musica in Montréal. His compositions include commissions from Turning Point Ensemble, Ensemble Caprice, the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, and an original contribution for the project ‘400 years of Dutch Keyboard Music’. He was recently commissioned by the Dutch Government and the United Nations to compose a new concerto for harp and orchestra, to be premiered by Lavinia Meijer and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2021. Other commissions include works for Discovery Channel, and broadcasting companies in the UK and the Netherlands. He is a Canadian Music Centre Associate Composer, President and CEO, Orange Music Inc., a Vancouver music production company; and, a former Director of City Opera Vancouver.

Born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, he started his musical education at the age of 3, and studied piano with Ruben Lifschitz, Alexandre Hrisanide and Youri Egorov. He graduated from the Royal Sweelinck Conservatorium of Music, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with a soloist degree in piano. He has lived in Canada since August 2000. Anticipated recordings include the release of Jaap Nico Hamburger: Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. (November 6, 2020)

Pianist Assaff Weisman has been captivating audiences with his intensity, lyricism and communicative style since his solo debut at the age of twelve. The Greenville News observed “this piano virtuoso has facile fingers that toss off daredevil passages with ease and a mind for music that is as nimble as his fingers.” Mr. Weisman is a graduate of the Juilliard School where he studied with Herbert Stessin and where he is a member of the Evening Division piano faculty.  Prior to his studies in New York Mr. Weisman studied with Professor Victor Derevianko in Israel and was supported by scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

Conductor Vincent de Kort, born in the Netherlands, is very much in demand as a symphonic as well as an opera conductor. Recently he made very successful debuts at the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as well as at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg (invited by Valery Gergiev). He is a regular guest at the opera houses of Dresden, Stockholm, Edinburg, Leipzig, Tokyo, Vienna, Vilnius, Tours, Luzern, Bern, Magdeburg, Johannesburg, Hawaii, Kazan. He studied with Mariss Jansons in Oslo and in St. Petersburg with the legendary Professor Ilya Musin, who was also the teacher of Valery Gergiev, and was the assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and William Christie. 

One of Quebec’s leading cultural ambassadors, the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal was founded in 1981 on a bold gamble: that the best way to promote symphonic music is by creating strong ties with the public. For 20 years now, the OM has grown alongside its artistic director and principal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose career continues to reach new heights. Their exceptional collaborative relationship has given rise to many ambitious musical projects, some of them quite daring, under the leadership of the Montreal conductor. 

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“The Seeker” from Canadian composer Kevin Lau

May 20, 2020 (Halifax, NS) “The Seeker” from celebrated composer Kevin Lau – performed by pianist Victor Cheng, is released June 5, 2020 through Halifax, NS – based classical record label, Leaf Music.

Kevin Lau

Kevin Lau is one of Canada’s most active young composers. A prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, ballet, and film music. Described as a “self-assured voice” (Barczablog) with a “masterful control over his idiom” (Classical Music Sentinel), Kevin Lau has established himself as one of Canada’s leading young composers. Awarded the 2017 Victor Martyn Lynn-Staunton Award by the Canada Council for Outstanding Achievement, Kevin’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles across North America, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Major works include Le Petit Prince, commissioned by the National Ballet of Canada and choreographed by Guillaume Côté.

“The “Seeker” is an archetype—a person who pursues dramatic experiences in search of meaning, pushing the limits of his/her abilities (and skirting the edge of danger in the process) in order to find transcendence. The music is a sonic and physical exploration of the ‘daredevil’ spirit, found particularly in high-level athletes and performers. The playful, quick-footed tune that opens the piece unfolds largely without a harmonic ‘safety net’, careening through a variety of increasingly daring episodes, before returning to the opening few bars: a tranquil homecoming after a fulfilling journey. I am grateful to Victor Cheng, pianist and athlete extraordinaire, for so perfectly embodying the spirit of the “Seeker”.” – Kevin Lau

Kevin’s discography includes the JUNO-nominated “Spin Cycle” (Centrediscs), featuring the Afiara String Quartet and DJ Skratch Bastid; “Encount3rs” (Analekta) featuring the NACO; “Solo Seven” (ATMA Classique) featuring violinist Marc Djokic; “The Sounds of Our Time” (Naxos) featuring cellist Rachel Mercer, “Premieres” (Cambria Records) featuring violinist Conrad Chow and “A Dream of Dawn” (Leaf Music) premiered by the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra at Musikverein, Vienna, Austria . In addition to composing concert music, Kevin is also active as a film composer, arranger, and pianist. He has written the scores to over a dozen films, including Charles Officer’s feature documentary Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018), and has created arrangements for artists such as Sarah Slean, Suzie McNeil, Christos Hatzis, and groups such as the Art of Time Ensemble. He has performed many of his own works and collaborates frequently with artists such as Scott St. John (violin), Lynn Kuo (violin), and Victor Cheng (piano).

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Saman Shahi added to the Leaf Music Roster

December 2, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – Halifax based classical record label, Leaf Music is pleased to announce that Canadian composer Saman Shahi is joining the label’s roster. An active composer, performer and advocate of contemporary classical music, Shahi’s work steps outside convention and is deeply influenced by Iranian traditional music, rock and electronic music.

Shahi’s first release with Leaf Music will be the song cycle Songs of a Wandering Soul set to be released June 19, 2020. The work features Tiffany Hanus (voice), Scott Peterson (Electric and Double Bass), Cheryl Ockrant (Cello), Natalie Wong (Violin), Peter Lutek (Clarinet, Bassoon) Derek Grey (Percussion). The recording was produced by the composer himself and recorded at Canterbury Studios, Toronto, Ontario.

Along with Songs of a Wandering Soul, Shahi is currently preparing material for his first full-length album in late 2020 entitled Breathing in the Shadows. The title comes from a song-cycle by Shahi based on poetry by women from across the globe, commissioned and sung by Soprano, Maureen Batt. The album will feature performances by tenor Fabián Arciniegas, collaborative pianist Tara Scott, and solo piano by Shahi himself. This project is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council. One of the song cycles featured on this album, “Orbit” won the second prize in the Canadian Association of Amatuer Musicians’s inaugural Composition Competition in 2019.


Based in Toronto, Shahi is a founding member and executive director of Iranian Composers of Toronto (ICOT), Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, and an affiliate member of the Canadian League of Composers. He was recently appointed as the Music Director at the Peterborough Concert band, and works as a composer-teacher with the Canadian Opera Company. His works have been performed by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Youth Symphony Orchestra, Symphony on the Bay, Orchestra Toronto and others across Canada. He has received commissions from ensembles worldwide including the National Ballet of Canada, and Tirgan Festival.

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Maureen Batt met en vedette “Lady of the Lake” de Walter Scott

Maureen Batt, une chanteuse soprano basée à Halifax, lance cette année son premier album Lady of the Lake, qui met en vedette sa voix captivante ainsi qu’une rencontre entre les univers de Schubert et de la compositrice canadienne Fiona Ryan.

“La musique d’une autre époque rejoint celle de Fiona, qui apporte aussi une voix moderne aux morceaux de Schubert. C’est spécial.”

Cette relation entre les mondes est soulignée sur Lady of the Lake par la contribution des deux compositeurs qui se sont inspirés du même poème de Sir Walter Scott. Batt livre ceux-ci avec brio, en saisissant les subtilités de chacun des univers musicaux, vocaux et lyriques de Schubert et Ryan.

“La musique classique moderne capte mon attention. J’aime chanter des oeuvres écrites par mes collègues et amis. Ça me donne de l’énergie.”

Batt avoue être enthousiaste à l’idée d’avoir endisqué les chansons de Ryan, écrites exclusivement pour ce disque.

“On connaît déjà bien l’oeuvre de Schubert. Tandis que beaucoup de compositeurs écrivent pour des musiciens, Fiona sait aussi écrire pour les chanteurs. C’est un talent spécial, selon moi. Nous sommes si chanceux d’avoir Fiona, ici, à Halifax.”

Lady of the Lake fut lancé cet été via l’étiquette Leaf Music et distribué par Naxos. L’initiative de faire appel à un compositeur canadien fut lancé par le propriétaire de Leaf Music.

“Je lui ai suggéré de demander à Fiona. Le projet au complet a pris trois ans, avec un total de six jours d’enregistrements, étalés sur deux semaines.”

Bien qu’elle ait étudié la musique, avec une maîtrise et un baccalauréat en poche, respectivement des universités de Toronto et Dalhousie, la relation de Fiona avec cette discipline artistique remonte à d’autres instruments comme le piano, le violon ou le saxophone.

“Quand j’étais adolescente, je faisais partie d’une chorale. D’autres filles me disaient qu’elles avaient des cours de chant en privée et j’ai fait part de cette information à ma mère.”

C’est là que c’est fait le déclic chez elle.

“Chanter c’était organique et bien plus naturel que lorsque j’étais au piano.”

C’est à l’école secondaire, à Fredericton, qu’elle s’est mise à perfectionner sa pratique grâce à des cours de chants qui lui ont permis de trouver sa voix.

“En dixième année, mon école secondaire présentait la comédie musicale Carousel, composée par Richard Rodgers. On a fait des auditions pendant une longue période de temps pour les divers rôles. Je voulais celui de Nettie qui interprète You’ll Never Walk Alone, qui allie la comédie musicale au chant classique. En répétant ce morceau avec ma professeure, j’ai commencé à apprendre à chanter d’une manière classique.”

De là, elle mène une carrière avec brio qui l’a amené tant à chanter, qu’à étudier, peaufiner et enseigner sa technique au Canada et aux États-Unis, en plus d’avoir également cofondé diverses compagnies.

“À l’école, on apprend l’histoire, les différents styles et la diction lyrique, mais il faut pratiquer le métier pour le comprendre. C’est un style de vie être chanteuse et il faut savoir prendre des risques et vivre ces expériences pleinement.”