Experience a musical wunderkind!
Like Mary Shelley or Clara Schumann, pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason comes from one of those fabled families of artistic super-whizzes. Her brother stunned an audience of two billion when he played at Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding. Her six siblings are all gifted classical musicians. The eldest six, including Jeneba, sailed through Britain’s Got Talent, making it to the semi-finals. It’s a totally wild bio, we know.
Not just an ensemble player, the increasingly distinguished 19-year-old soloist is already catching the attention of The Guardian, BBC Music Magazine, and Decca Classics for whom she recorded a recent, celebrated album.
Under the baton of brilliant Jeri Lynne Johnson (Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra) she performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major. We’ve all known someone to make the case: Mozart is simple, easy listening. All that rich ornamentation of V-I, some might say, is nothing more than decorative icing over a Marie Antoinette cake! If there were ever an example to shoot down the popular libel against Mozart, it’s Piano Concerto No. 23. The slow, minor-key second movement is gothic, almost tragic; classical era music at its most romantic — then, we’re off like a shot, with the iconic third movement. Its dizzyingly decorative patterns on the piano will be delivered by Jeneba with all the gusto they demand. Move over Mozart haters, and let us eat this decadent cake!
A note on our matinees: our matinee concerts are casual afternoon performances (one hour in duration, with no intermission); students will be in attendance, and the program may be shortened from the evening program. Some seating restrictions apply.
The concerts begin at 1.00pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 10th, in Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue. Casual tickets will be available 7 July 2023 here and on MCO’s Ticketline at 204-783-7377.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue
1.00pm & 7.30pm, Wednesday, 10 April 2024
Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor
Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Divertimento in D Major, K. 136
Bluegreen Ecstatic Grey
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488
Jeri Lynne Johnson
In 2005 Jeri Lynne Johnson made history as the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize when she was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Since then she has continued to break barriers in Europe and the US as the first woman and/or African-American woman on the podium for many orchestras and opera companies in the US and Europe including the Bournemouth Symphony (UK), the Weimar Staatskapelle. Recent conducting engagements include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Sao Paulo Municipal Symphony Orchestra, and Santa Fe Opera. Jeri was also selected to conduct the Pulitzer Prize winning composition Stride by Tania Leon as part of the composer’s tribute for the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors performance.
Lauded by the L.A. Times as “a stunning, rhythmically vital conductor,” Jeri is a versatile artist who is comfortable with a variety of genres and styles, Jeri has developed a reputation for offering masterful and compelling performances of contemporary repertoire and has led numerous world premieres. Upcoming 2022-2023 engagements include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Opera Theater of Saint Louis and Santa Fe Pro Musica among others.
Jeri is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra—a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. Established in 2008, Black Pearl combines artistic excellence, cultural diversity and meaningful community engagement and has been recognized nationally and internationally as an award-winning leading innovator in social justice and racial equity. In January 2021, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra had the honour of being the only orchestra in North America invited to participate in a virtual collaborative concert as part of the World Economic Forum at Davos. This inspiring event called See Me! A Global Concert involved filmmakers, visual artists, choirs, orchestras and musicians from around the world.
Based upon her work with Black Pearl, Jeri established DEI Arts Consulting in 2015 as a vehicle to share the insights and results of Black Pearl’s programs through data-driven strategic and creative solutions for cultural institutions seeking to create a culture of belonging.
Pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason is already captivating audiences with her “maturity in performance and interpretation …, the former an uncanny phenomenon” (The Chronicle, Fraser). The third of the Kanneh-Mason clan to establish herself as a soloist, Jeneba recently made her BBC Proms debut with the Chineke! Orchestra, performing the Florence Price Concerto and was heralded by the press as “demonstrating musical insight, technical acuity, and an engaging performing persona” (Music OMH). Jeneba was a Keyboard Category Finalist in BBC Young Musician 2018, winner of the Murs du Son Prize at the Lagny-Sur-Marne International Piano Competition in France, 2014, and The Nottingham Young Musician 2013. She was also winner of the Iris Dyer Piano Prize at The Royal Academy of Music, Junior Academy, where she studied with Patsy Toh.
Recent and forthcoming highlights include debuts with the Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, and the Sinfonia Viva for the New Year Gala. She also undertook an extensive tour with Chineke! across Europe in November 2022 for the Price Concerto, and recorded with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. An avid recital performer, Jeneba will also be making solo debuts at the Zurich Tonhalle, London Wigmore Hall, Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, amongst others, as well as the Lenzburgiade, Rheingau, Cheltenham, Bradfield and Lamberhurst festivals. In 2022, Jeneba also embarked on tours of Australia, USA, Antigua and Barbuda with the Kanneh-Masons. Jeneba was named one of Classic FM’s ‘Rising Stars’ and appeared on Julian Lloyd Webber’s radio series in 2021. She has also been featured on several television and radio programmes, including Radio 3, In Tune, The BAFTAs, The Royal Variety Performance, the documentary for BBC4, Young, Gifted and Classical, and the Imagine documentary for BBC1, This House is Full of Music. In 2023 She co-presented a radio programme on Classic FM entitled The Kanneh-Mason Family Takeover.
She has recorded for the album, Carnival, with Decca Classics.
Jeneba holds the Victoria Robey Scholarship to The Royal College of Music, studying piano with Vanessa Latarche. She is grateful to Lady Robey, The Nottingham Soroptimist Trust and to The Nottingham Education Trust.
Matthias McIntire is a composer, performer, and educator active across a broad spectrum of contexts. His compositions reflect his eclectic background in performance (violin, viola, voice, and electronics), Western classical and new music, as well as jazz, fiddle, free improvisation, field recording, foley art, and electronic music.
Matthias creates varied work for acoustic instruments, with and without electronics. His music has found inspiration from a variety of sources including personal expression, reflections on the complexity of the human psyche and emotions, connection and collaboration with others, a love of nature, the act of making and using his own field recordings, birds, the urgency of climate change, a love of all things colourful, the spaces between musical genres he has studied, feelings of mystery and magic in the world, and his time spent time traveling, to name a few.
His compositions have been presented in Canada, the United States, and Europe by ensembles/venues including New Music Concerts, the Canadian Music Centre, Fall for Dance North, TEDx, The University of Toronto, Array Space, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, New Art/New Media, Ottawa Chamberfest, the Center for New Music, One Found Sound, the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Seattle, New Music for Strings, among others.
Matthias holds a DMA in Composition from the University of Toronto under the supervision of Christos Hatzis and Eliot Britton. He also holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Violin Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Glenn Gould School (Toronto), respectively. Matthias is currently the Composer-in-Residence at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance in Nova Scotia where he is working on his first string quartet for the Verona Quartet, dreaming up collaborations with pianist Tong Wang and Bang-on-a-Can cellist Arlen Hlusko, researching Cape Breton fiddle music for an upcoming trio for F-Plus, and helping to organize Lamp’s 2023 Composition Academy.
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Allegro assai
Mozart began Piano Concerto No. 23 in Vienna in 1784 and completed it there in early 1786. The premiere, with himself as the leader and soloist, took place on March 2nd.
From quite early on, Mozart demonstrated that meeting all the challenges of composing effective and entertaining concertos came naturally to him. It didn’t matter what the solo instrument was, or whether he played it professionally—the result was always eloquent and supremely perceptive. He also developed another ability that’s vital to the effective creation of both concertos and operas: a profound grasp of how to create effective dialogue between music makers, be they singers in an opera, or a concerto soloist and the accompanying orchestra
The winter and spring of 1785/86 proved a period of amazing creative activity, even by his standards. In addition to this piano concerto, he also composed two others (the jovial, expansive No. 22 and the defiant, poignant No. 24); a one act stage farce, The Impresario; the Masonic Funeral Music; a host of brief chamber, solo, and vocal works; and his masterpiece of comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro. Taken together, they demonstrate the astonishing variety and consistent high quality of which he was capable.
This concerto opens in leisurely fashion, with the orchestra presenting the movement’s principal materials. The soloist then treats them with a winning mixture of elegance and delicious flights of fancy. With only the briefest of digressions, the mood throughout is utterly contented. The atmosphere changes radically in the slow movement, one of Mozart’s most poignant creations. The piano leads off, introducing a main theme in the rhythm of a siciliano, a melancholy Italian folk dance. Passionate outbursts have no place here, but just the same, Mozart sets forth the depth of his despair in most telling fashion. The finale brings further contrast, lightening the mood completely. Mozart brings back the sun, more welcome than ever in the wake of the dark, preceding adagio.
Divertimento in D Major, K. 136
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The sixteen-year-old Mozart composed a set of three divertimenti for strings, of which K. 136 is the first, in his native Salzburg during the early months of 1772. He and his father, the ever-practical, ever-ambitious father had recently returned from their second trip to Italy. Papa Mozart wisely felt that establishing a reputation in that most musical of lands could only enhance the likelihood of his son’s being able to develop his miraculous gifts to their fullest and most lucrative degree. Wolfgang arrived back in Salzburg bearing a commission for a new opera, Lucio Silla, which was to be premiered in Milan.
Why he composed the divertimenti remains a mystery. He may have planned to take them along on his return trip, hoping like any clever, self-employed entrepreneur that they would (a) bolster his fame, especially since he had taken care to give them gracious, tuneful Italianate features that he felt sure would please that country’s music lovers; and (b) remove some of the pressure he felt likely to come his way to write such ‘occasional’ music during the hectic period leading up to the premiere of the new opera.
They share two unusual features: each has three movements, rather than the four or more that were typical of a divertimento or serenade; and they are scored for strings alone, rather than the standard mixed-instrument ensemble. Mozart may have intended them to be performed by individual players, as string quartets. It is possible that they are the works that his father, Leopold, offered to the publisher Breitkopf in February 1772—without success. In recent times they have been played most often by orchestral strings.
No record remains of their first performances. One likely possibility is that they debuted in the luxurious private salon of Count Firmian, Governor General of Milan. Mozart had met this generous music lover during his earlier visit. What is known for sure is that Lucio Silla knocked ‘em dead when it first hit the boards on 26 December. Twenty further performances followed before Mozart returned to Salzburg in March 1773.
The D Major Divertimento has another Italianate connection: its succession of movements correspond to those found in the type of overture or sinfonia that introduced operas in Italy during that period. The bright and sunny opening movement (which is quite demanding for the violins) is followed by a warm, songful slow movement and a merry, breathless finale.