Les Amis

—named after the ensemble of that name, who feature in the concert:

Lynn Kuo, Violin and Marianna Humetska, Piano

The concert takes place: Friday, March 2, 2012 at

St. Andrew’s Church, 82 Kent St. Ottawa – 8:00 p.m.

The program for this week’s Thirteen Strings Concert fits nicely into the five facets which are central to the orchestra’s programming.

1/ We have music of the baroque: Handel concerto grosso opus 6 no.6.

This is one of my favorites of the set. (Which my “other” orchestra, Aradia, in Toronto, have just finished recording for a 3 CD set to be released next year.) Both the Thirteen Strings members and audience have said to me that they wanted to do more baroque music. So we have provided complete concerts of baroque music—the next concert is Handel’s Giulio Cesare semi-staged. But it is also popular to combine some baroque with mixed programs of other repertoire.

Here the concerto is played by the amazing Jordi Savall and his orchestra Le Concert des Nations


2/ The next facet is the English 20th century string repertoire– also a favorite of mine. We hear Peter Warlock’s Serenade for Strings. It is a beautiful, pensive work, written for the sixtieth birthday of Frederick Delius. I haven’t heard a performance of this live and I doubt that it has ever been performed in Canada….?

Here’s a performance of the Serenade:

3/ We have the Romantics! The Thirteen Strings have always had a great flair for the Romantic repertoire and in this instance we have Janacek’s early Suite for Strings. (Please note this is a change from the advertised Rautavaara Suite for Strings.)

This music fits the orchestra well– it is a work in miniature, yet with profound emotions. Janacek originally conceived the work as a suite– with baroque, or old fashioned titles: Prelude, Sarabande, Scherzo (this one is definitely reminiscent of the Eroica Scherzo!), and Air.

Here is the beautiful Adagio, 2nd movement of Janacek’s Suite for Strings

The Thirteen Strings orchestra has a penchant for unusual repertoire and has always been a big champion of Canadian composers. When I came on board as Music Director I said that I wanted to commission some new music. One of the composers I have become interested in is the Chinese/Canadian composer Alice Ping Yee Ho.

Alice lives in Toronto, although her music is performed internationally. We met up over a year ago, with the idea that the orchestra would commission a new work from her. She gave me a CD with a work, which I absolutely loved: the Capriccio Ballo for Violin, Piano, and Strings

I decided I would like to do this work in a concert along with the new work. Since the Ballo was written for violin and piano and orchestra I thought it would be fun to invite the Toronto duo Les Amis, which comprises Lynn Kuo Violin and Marianna Humetska Piano, to take part, perform the Ballo and also be the center-piece for the new composition.


Check out Les Amis:


I asked that the new work have a Chinese instrument component and so Alice wrote the new work for Anna Guo who plays the Yangqin.

Alice has written a work entitled: Sì Yì (四藝) – The Four Arts

This is what she has written about it:

Program note:

Inspired by the Chinese philosophy of study of beauty, this composition is conceived in four short movements that reflect four Chinese art forms in an abstract or imaginary description as:

I. Hua (畫) – the slow unveiling of the mystery of Chinese brush painting.
II. Qin (琴) – the joy of music making.
III. Shu (書) – a practitioner’s poetic expression in the art of Chinese Calligraphy.
IV. Qi (棋) – discovering the wits and wonder in a game of chess.

The three solo instruments: violin, piano, Yangqin, and the accompanying strings ensemble become the four components that bring special meaning or representation to these four ideas of beauty. In each movement, the special art element will be highlighted by featuring a solo instrument or in their combination; the nuances of the Chinese and Western instruments are mixed or interchangeable. Each movement will be constructed with a distinct instrumental color and temperament, at times there will be some nostalgic references or reinvention of traditional Chinese music as well as Baroque style playing.

This piece is written especially for violinist Lynn Kuo, pianist Marianna Humetska, Yangqin player Anna Guo, commissioned by Ottawa Thirteen Strings with conductor Kevin Mallon.
Alice Ping Yee Ho

Although the work is difficult for the players, and it will be a challenge to pull it off, I find that it is beautifully imaginative and evocative. There are interesting colors and a sense of depiction of another- worldly quality. This is music that will touch the listener. Personally I am proud to be associated with this music and I can only urge the public to run to this concert to hear this première!

Please check out Alice’s website:


One Response to “Les Amis”

  1. Ian G. Sadler on January 7th, 2013 6:12 pm

    I wish music like that Heseltine (Warlock) Serenade would be programmed far more often along with works by Gerald Finzi and E.J. Moeran. I`ve recently acquired the score for Moeran`s Violin Concerto, an absolutely stunning piece, yet no one plays it.