MOZART & MENDELSSOHN: A tale of two prodigies
Artistic Director: Jean-Sébastien Lévesque
March 19, 2022 @ 7:00 pm
Fulford Hall, Salt Spring Island
W. A. Mozart - Missa brevis in D minor K. 65 (K. 61a)
W. A. Mozart - Violin Concerto #5 K219
(Victor Fournelle-Blain, violin soloist)
Felix Mendelssohn - The Hebrides Overture, Op. 26
Felix Mendelssohn - Psalm 42
(Gwen Jamieson, soprano soloist)
A prodigy is someone who shows exceptional competency or ability for their age. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn are considered to be two of the most remarkable prodigies in Western music history.
Mozart’s Missa brevis in d minor, K. 65, was written in 1769, when Mozart was twelve years of age. He wrote and played the work at the highly regarded and respected University of Salzburg's Kollegienkirche. Even at this young age, we see an impressive mastery of the compositional techniques of the time and amazing creativity.
Mozart’s fifth violin concerto illustrates the technical challenges that musicians of the time could master and shows Mozart's use of various musical characters: a refreshing and lively first movement, a more poetic and slow second movement and, for the finale, a minuet. This movement not only surprises us by being a slow dance instead of a usual fast paced rondo, it also includes a section that recalls the rhythms and spirit of Turkish military bands! We are delighted to have Victor Fournelle Blain, from the Montreal Symphony, performing this concerto.
Mendelssohn was also a child prodigy. He began writing music at the age of 10, but was known from a much younger age to have a very creative mind. We hear this in Die Hebriden : a piece that is believed to recount Mendelssohn's travels in the British Isles. Psalm 42 shows a more mature side of Mendelssohn, and he considered this cantata to be his most accomplished sacred work. BotR welcomes Gwen Jamieson once more to our stage, as our guest soprano soloist.
Violinist and violist Victor Fournelle-Blain is leading an active career as an orchestral and chamber musician, soloist and teacher. Currently Associate Principal Viola of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, where he previously held section and 2nd assistant positions, he was also Principal Viola of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has taught viola at the University of Toronto and Université de Montréal, and now teaches at McGill’s Schulich School of Music. In the summer season he attends festivals such as Concerts aux Îles du Bic, Orford Academy, Camp Musical des Laurentides and Formandi Festival (Guadalajara, Mexico).
Victor first studied the violin at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal under Johanne Arel, then completed a Master of Music under Ani Kavafian at the Yale School of Music, after which he obtained an Artist Diploma at McGill’s Schulich School of Music, studying the viola with André Roy. Winner of the 2012 Prix d’Europe, of McGill’s 2014 Golden Violin Award, and second prize winner of the 2010 OSM Standard Life Competition. He currently plays a Carlo Tononi violin, generously loaned by Canimex.
Victor Fournelle-Blain, violin
Gwen Jamieson, soprano
Gwen Jamieson’s passion for early music is reflected in her frequent solo appearances in Victoria. In February, 2021, she was featured by the Early Music Society of the Islands in a videoed mainstage performance, “Airs de Cour and Courtly Airs”, accompanied by Douglas Hensley and Martin Bonham. Gwen has appeared regularly with the Ancient Music Society of Victoria, including a gala concert in 2019 with Benjamin Bagby. She has also performed a number of times as part of the annual UVic Medieval Conference and has been a member of the medieval-folk ensemble Banquo for several years. Gwen has appeared in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Oratorio and Advanced Vocal Performance Programs, including solo work in Handel’s Solomon. She has two CD recordings to her credit.
Gwen’s evident talent and interest in early music attracted the attention of the late Michael Jarvis, who invited her to become a Choral Scholar with St. Barnabas Anglican Church. In that position, under the new directorship of Marco Vitale, she continues to be immersed in sacred Renaissance polyphony.
In 2019, Gwen made her debut as solo soprano in Handel’s Messiah, with the Bach on the Rock choir and orchestra under the direction of Michael Jarvis. Her performance earned a review that singled out her performance, saying, “The soprano soloist’s voice and wonderfully expressive face was one of the highlights of the performance.”
Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Victoria, and a Diploma in Vocal Performance from Camosun/Victoria Conservatory of Music.