Monthly Archives: November 2016

Blue Engine String Quartet and Robert Kortgaard

December 1, 2016 brings us a concert called Pocket of Time, a musical tribute to Pulitzer Prize poet Elizabeth Bishop.  Soprano Suzie LeBlanc will be accompanied through out the evening by pianist Robert Kortgaard and the Blue Engine String Quartet.

For this concert, the Blue Engine String Quartet will feature Anne Simons (violin), Jennifer Jones (violin), Kerry Kavalo (viola), Hilary Brown (cello).  Formed in 1997, the members of the quartet are all members of Symphony Nova Scotia.  When not performing with the symphony or as the quartet, they are often sharing their knowledge through teaching.  You can read more about the quartet here –

Pianist Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina and grew up in Calgary.  He studied at the Juilliard School, obtaining both his bachelor and his master’s degrees there.  He continued his studies in England and Italy thanks to awards from the Canada Council.  Today he is based in Toronto and travels the world to perform.  He is also the Artistic Director of the Leigh Summer Festival.  Find out more about the festival here –

Join us on December 1st to hear these great artists live!


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Suzie LeBlanc

Suzie LeBlanc will take to our stage on December 1, 2016 with a musical tribute to Pulitzer Prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop.  She will be joined by pianist Robert Kortgaard and the Blue Engine String Quartet.

LeBlanc was born in Edmunston, New Brunswick and has performed around the world.  In addition to performing and recording, she is the co-artistic director of Le Nouvel Opéra ( in Montreal.

While generally known for her baroque singing, her concert on December 1st will be focused on another one of her passions – Elizabeth Bishop.  She is the honorary patron of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia.  LeBlanc was involved in the creation of the Centenary Festival, which took place in 2011, and the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, which was released in 2012.  Find our more about Bishop on this website –

Learn more about Suzie on her website at

The December 1st concert in titled “A Pocket of Time” and includes the following pieces:

The silken water is weaving and weaving by Alasdair MacLean

Sunday 4am (Elizabeth Bishop) by John Plant

String Quartet No 1, Mvts I – III; Serra Da Piedade de Belo Horizonte (piano solo); Cançao do Poeta do Seculo XVIII, W. 486 (Alfredo Ferreira Rodrigues) by Heitor Villa Lobos

Paris 7am (Elizabeth Bishop) by Ivan Moody

A short slow life (Elizabeth Bishop) by Emily Doolittle

6 Songs, Op. 107 by Robert Schumann

Lullaby for the cat (Elizabeth Bishop) by Peter Togni


Tickets can be booked from our website at

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Bach, Schumann, Balakirev, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev

By guest blog writer Julie Berridge

On November 15, Danny Driver plays the compositions of Bach, Schumann, Balakirev, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev.

French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816 was written by Johan Sebastian Bach between the years of 1722 and 1725. It consists of 7 movements: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte, Bourrée, Loure and Gigue. Allemande in 4/4 time opens with a gentle interweaving of notes, and then becomes more lively. The Courante is light and quick and the Sarabande, is more stately. (The Sarabande dance started in Spain and as a somewhat lively dance and became more stately when it spread to France.) The Gavotte, a ballroom dance is followed by a country dance. The Loure is a soaring melody and the closing Gigue is a fugue in three voices.

Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13 consists of 12 etudes and was written in 1834. It’s been called one of the greatest musical achievements of the 19th century. In these 12 etudes, the piano is made to sound like an orchestra. From the one instrument, we hear woodwinds and brass, drum beats; horns and trombones, and violin and cello.

The second half of the evening features three Russian composers: Balakirev born in 1837, Rachmaninov born in 1873 and Sergei Prokofiev born in 1891. In Balakirev’s Nocturne No 2 in B minor (1901) Chopin’s grand nocturnes can be heard. Rachmaninov is said to have been inspired by the feelings conjured up by images when composing his etudes. Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7 in B♭ major, Op. 83 (1942) was one of his “war sonatas”. It is said that in these sonatas, Prokofiev unfavourable feelings about Stalin were revealed. Ironically though, this Sonata received a Stalin prize.

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Danny Driver

Pianist Danny Driver will be making his Toronto debut on our stage on November 15th.

Born in London in 1977, Driver speaks Hebrew as well as English and is a descendant of Baal Shem Tov.  He has gained an international reputation as an outstanding British pianist in recent years.

He originally started his studies with Natural Science but eventually changed to study music at the Royal College of Music.  Driver was appointed the Professor of Piano at the Royal College of Music starting this past September.  He also performs world-wide with orchestras, in recital, and as a chamber musician.

Recording with Hyperion, Driver has several acclaimed recordings and is known for championing less well-known or neglected composers like York Bowen and Mily Balakirev.  He has recently recorded another CD in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto Series which should be released soon.

Join us to hear him live in Toronto –

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