Brett Polegato’s artistic sensibility has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics: “his is a serious and seductive voice” says The Globe and Mail, and The New York Times has praised him for his “burnished, well-focused voice” which he uses with “considerable intelligence and nuance.” He appears regularly on the world’s most distinguished stages including those of Lincoln Center, La Scala, the Concertgebouw, the Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, the Teatro Real, Roy Thomson Hall, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and has collaborated with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniele Gatti, Andris Nelsons, Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, Jeffrey Tate, Marc Minkowski, and Martyn Brabbins. He can be heard as soloist in the Grammy Awards’ Best Classical Recording of 2003 – Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano.
Brett’s 2016/2017 season began in July when he created the role of Father Thomas Nangle in John Estacio’s new opera, Ours, for Opera on the Avalon in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The opera was written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, to pay tribute to the men and boys who gave their lives that fateful day, and to honour the work of Father Nangle. In October, he appears as Paolo in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Pacific Opera Victoria before travelling directly to Italy to reprise his critically acclaimed portrayal of Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde for the Opera di Roma with maestro Daniele Gatti. In January, he made a long-awaited return to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra where he sang the baritone role in Jeffrey Ryan’s Afganistan: Requiem for a Generation. In February, Mr. Polegato appears once more with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in performances of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem and, after a series of recitals across Canada in March, will return home to sing the role of Jesus in Elgar’s The Apostles with the Pax Christi Chorale in Toronto. June finds him once more in concert with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and he concludes his international season in July at the Festival de Lanaudière where he will make his role debut as Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin,
Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He completed his bachelor and master’s degrees at the Juilliard School in New York City. As a recipient of arts awards from the Canada Council, he continued his musical studies in Italy and England.
Mr. Kortgaard has performed as a soloist with major Canadian orchestras and has given recitals throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in England, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and China. He is one of the country’s most respected concert pianists, having appeared with most of the country¹s leading orchestras and recital societies. Mr. Kortgaard has become one of the most in-demand colleagues of Canada’s most esteemed vocalists, and is a frequent partner of sopranos Measha Brueggergosman and Wendy Nielsen, mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell and cabaret diva Patricia O’Callaghan. For five years, he was resident musician at the University of New Brunswick, and he is now artistic director of the Indian River Festival in Prince Edward Island.
Robert Kortgaard recently joined forces with pianist Peter Tiefenbach to create an impressive new ensemble. As two of Canada’s most accomplished and virtuosic musicians, they have been amazing concert and broadcast audiences across the country for many seasons, both as individual artists and in collaboration with some of Canada’s finest musicians. Now they lend their unique gifts to the large and varied body of repertoire for two pianos, four hands.
Concert-accordionist Michael Bridge is a captivating young musician, redefining the sound and image of his traditional instrument. Named one of CBC’s “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30”, he is internationally renowned for his dynamic stage- presence and unique musical versatility. His repertoire – classical masterworks, baroque, jazz, world music, folk dances, contemporary classical, and digital accordion compositions – smashes all stereotypes concerning the limitations of his instrument. He made his solo orchestral debut with the Boston Pops at 17, and has performed on four continents, now playing over 100 concerts per year.
Michael was given his first accordion at age five, purchased at a garage sale for $5. Now studying accordion performance at the University of Toronto with Joseph Macerollo, he has won numerous prizes including the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award, the U of T Concerto Competition, and the Calgary Stampede Talent Search. In 2013, he placed 2nd at the World Digital Accordion Championships. He has adjudicated accordion competitions and taught masterclasses across the USA and Canada.
Michael is a founding member of Double-Double Duo, having toured Ecuador, Poland, France and across Canada with his collaborator Dr. Kornel Wolak (clarinet). Their debut album launched in 2015, entitled ‘Rock Bach’. He performs in Ladom Ensemble, an acoustic Iranian-Serbian-classical-tango quartet.
An ardent supporter of new music, Michael has over thirty world premieres to his credit, including works by Anna Pigdorna, Airat Ichmouratov and Pouya Hamidi. As a composer, he wrote and recorded two folk albums and is the primary arranger for several of his chamber ensembles. He has gratefully received support for his academic work and touring from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, The Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, the Government of Alberta and the University of Toronto.
Highly praised on two continents for his glorious tone, precise technical control and musical imagination, Kornel Wolak is well on his way to a major career as a soloist and chamber musician in both classical and cross-over repertoire. Critics have hailed him for his playing that showed “admirable calm and patience in shaping beautiful sonorities…full of energy,” (Andrzej Chylewski, Glos Wielkopolski); “beautiful [playing] in the lyric selections…a lot of imaginative colors, dynamics, and rubato,” (Jolanta Brozda, Gazeta Wyborcza), and “control and a smooth, elegant expressivity are what make Wolak shine,” (John Terauds, Toronto Star).
As a member of the renowned Quartetto Gelato from 2007 to 2009, Wolak performed on its 2009 recording, Musica Latina. He also appears as soloist on a 2007 CD of Karol Kurpinski’s Clarinet Concerto, released by Channel II of Polish Radio – a CD that was nominated for Poland’s highest recording award, the “Fryderyk”. Wolak is a regular fixture on the airwaves, including CBC Radio 2, Classical 96.3 FM, Public Radio International, and in the US, on National Public Radio.
Kornel Wolak’s artistry has been admired by audiences at over 90 concerts in North America alone. As a soloist, he has performed with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Sinfonietta, Poland’s Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening 60th season gala concert, the Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, and Charleston (North Carolina) Symphony Orchestra, amongst others. He has a return engagement with the Poznan Philharmonic later in 2010. As a chamber musician, he has appeared with the Wieniawski String Quartet, the Glenn Gould String Quartet, and the Lodos Wind Quintet. His orchestral experience includes regular freelancing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as other Ontario orchestras.
Intent on increasing the clarinet repertoire, Wolak has performed the Toronto premiere of John Adams’ “Gnarly Buttons” Clarinet Concerto, broadcast on CBC Radio 2, and Marc Neikrug’sThrough Roses at the Glenn Gould Studio.
Also devoted to music education, Wolak established Music Mind Canada (MMC), an initiative that designs, promotes, and produces educational programs for schools, local communities, and other groups interested in learning about music. Well-structured “theme recitals” are one of many ways that he introduces music to wide audiences. The W?oc?awek Tribute noted that “Mr. Wolak’s natural way of connecting with the audience made his educational series of recitals entitled From B(ach) to Z(emlinsky) an unexpected learning through the art experience for everyone….with his excellent balance of playing, lecturing, and demonstrating made the music accessible…. The audience was moved by the music, properly informed by the artist, and thoroughly entertained.” Between 2007 and 2009 alone, Wolak has performed more than two dozen school shows across Canada and the US, promoting classical and cross-over music to young audiences.
Mr. Wolak won the Royal Conservatory’s Concerto Competition in 2006, the Glenn Gould School’s 2005 Concerto Competition and the Presser Music Award from the Presser Foundation Earlier, as a student, he won first prize in the Poznan Clarinet Wind Instruments Competition, the Polish All-Wind Instruments Competition, and the Indiana University Clarinet Department Competition. He has honed his craft through studies with clarinet masters at summer music festivals in Prague, Paris and elsewhere. Dedicated to being a fully rounded wind player, Wolak has also studied period instrument performance.
THE WINDERMERE STRING QUARTET
Elizabeth Loewen Andrews
As first violinist in the Windermere String Quartet and a core member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Elizabeth Loewen Andrews demonstrates her musical versatility, at home in both period and modern performance. Her interests, as well as her experience in solo, chamber and orchestral performance, have brought Elizabeth opportunities to perform in England, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, and Israel. Elizabeth performs regularly with Tafelmusik and the Talisker Players. She has also performed with Esprit Orchestra and Aradia Ensemble, and for Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Orpheus Choir, and the Elora Festival Singers. Elizabeth holds a Master of Music Performance from the University of Toronto where she studied with Annalee Patipatanakoon, violinist of the Gryphon Trio.
Violinist Michelle Odorico joins the Windermere String Quartet in the 2014-2015 season. Michelle received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Ottawa under David Stewart, and was a member of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. In her final year of undergraduate studies, Michelle developed a passion for baroque music and has recently completed her Master’s degree at the University of Toronto specializing in Baroque violin under Tafelmusik’s director, Jeanne Lamon. Since returning to Toronto, Michelle has performed with the Talisker Players, Musicians in Ordinary and Elixir Baroque Ensemble. Michelle loves to teach and is interested in music education for young children. She is also a member of the indie-pop band LYON.
Anthony Rapoport is principal violist of Sinfonia Toronto, with whom he has appeared as soloist on CBC Radio. As a founding member of the Aradia Ensemble, he recorded over a dozen internationally released CDs of baroque music on period instruments. On tour with Aradia, he was acclaimed as “a splendid violist” by the New Zealand Herald. In the summer of 2014, he collaborated with Form Contemporary Dance Theatre on the critically acclaimed Storm and Silence at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Anthony received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School in New York as a student of Lillian Fuchs. His document for the research requirement was Jimi Hendrix as Guitarist/Composer on ‘Axis: Bold As Love.’ As a prolific teenage composer, he performed his own Viola Concerto in Toronto and on tour in London and Glasgow, UK. He has been active in the peace movement, and is an enthusiast of contact dance improvisation and yoga.
Laura Jones’ kaleidoscopic career comprises performances historical and modern, solo, chamber and orchestral, on both cello and viola da gamba. In addition to her duties as cellist of the Windermere String Quartet, she is Assistant Principal of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Cellist/Gambist and founding member of Nota Bene Baroque, and a member of the Talisker Players, with whom she has appeared at chamber music festivals in Elora, Ottawa, and Vancouver. She is represented on recordings by The Golden Age of String Quartets, with the Windermere String Quartet; Serenade Française, a CD of music by French composers recorded with her father, pianist Lawrence Jones; the world premiere recording of the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano by John Ireland, with the Riverdale Ensemble; and Where Words and Music Meet: Talisker Players at Massey College. She is a cat person, and a flamenco dancer by avocation.