The Mighty Niagara Guitar Orchestra presents The Guitar Extravaganza 2020. Always a popular annual event, join us for this remarkable evening of student, community, and professional performances on the stage of the Recital Hall.
Saturday February 01, 2020 – 7:30 pm
The Recital Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Brock University’s annual celebration of the guitar continues, featuring The Mighty Niagara Guitar Orchestra, comprised of 70 classical guitarists from Niagara and Southern Ontario. Orchestra members travel from as far as Sarnia, Sudbury, Ottawa and even Boston – all under the direction of Artistic Director/Conductor and Brock University Guitar Instructor, Timothy Phelan.
Tickets: $18.00† adults; $13.00† seniors/students; $5* eyeGo program. General admission.
Tickets available as part of the Brock Student Experience Package.
† Includes the $3 FOPAC Cultural Capital Improvement Fund (CCIF); other applicable fees and taxes are extra.
*No CCIF applied; other applicable fees and taxes are extra.
The 2020 concert is a special Walker Cultural Leader program for the Department of Music. Niagara natives Paul Wiebe and James Bryan (Philosopher Kings, Prozzak, Nelly Furtado, Shawn Mendes) join the special guests and internationally-renowned soloists René Izquierdo & Elina Chekan, and Emma Rush. The music is composed and/or arranged by three Niagara-native musicians: James Bryan, Timothy Phelan & Floyd Turner.
This year’s program features 3 World Premieres:
BEATLES – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, arranged by Floyd Turner.
Written especially for GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA 2020, an arrangement that masterfully incorporates four beloved songs by The Lads from Liverpool: “Michelle”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “The Long & Winding Road”, and “She’s Leaving Home”. (World Premiere)
I Know. Deep Breath. by Timothy Phelan,
Elina Chekan & René Izquierdo, Soloists
Composed especially for GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA 2020, and dedicated to René Izquierdo, Elina Chekan and members of The Mighty Niagara Guitar Orchestra.
Follow Me. by James Bryan, arranged by Timothy Phelan.
James Bryan, Soloist
Composed especially for GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA 2020. Three Songs originally written by James Bryan for Solo Guitar (“The Chase”, “Falling Deeper” & “Follow Me”) and re-imagined for Guitar Orchestra by Timothy Phelan. (World Premiere)
Performers and Composers (in order of appearance):
The Mighty Niagara Guitar Orchestra
Classical guitar orchestras have experienced an immense surge in popularity in recent decades. One of the first such orchestras with international recognition and influence was that of the University of Toronto, under the artistic direction of Professor Eli Kassner, and including founding member Timothy Phelan, who arranged much of its repertoire, and later became its Conductor/Instructor. (One such international performance was at the Havana International Guitar Festival, where a very young René Izquierdo first met and studied with Eli Kassner!). The Mighty Niagara Guitar Orchestra was formed for the very first Brock University Guitar Extravaganza in 2015 with approximately 30 guitarists, primarily from the Niagara Region, and later more than doubling in size, with this year’s members joining us from as far away as Sarnia, Sudbury, Ottawa and Boston! The concert that you are enjoying this evening was accomplished through the diligent individual practise of the guitarists involved, two preliminary optional rehearsals on the preceding weekends for primarily local members who were available, and one very full day of rehearsal today!
A native of Minsk, Belarus, Elina (Ella) Chekan holds Master of Music degrees in Orchestral Conducting, Pedagogy and Classical Guitar Performance from theBelarus Academy of Music and a Master of Music degree from Yale University. She is currently finishing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. Combining active performance and teaching careers, Elina performs as a soloist and chamber musician around the world. Some of her recent appearances include Iserlohn Guitar Festival, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; The Volterra Project, Italy; Guitar Festival in Lanciano, Italy; Series of Concerts in the Camino de Santiago, Spain; Festival in East Carolina University; Barrios Festival in Manaus, Brazil; Brussels Royal Museum of Musical Instrument, Belgium; Yale University; Guitar Festival in Mannes College, New York; Tucson Classical Guitar Society; Guitar Festival in Salamanca, Mexico among others. Elina is a frequent conductor of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra and the Usdan Center for the Performance Arts Guitar Orchestra. Guitar faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee since 2005, Ella is working with musicians and composers encouraging them to write appealing and musically interesting pieces for the next generation of guitarists. In her quest for present-day student repertoire, Ella commissioned Jorge Morel to write a series of solo and ensemble pieces which have been published by Mel Bay. Morel also dedicated to Ms. Chekan his composition Campanas published in The Magnificent Guitar of Jorge Morel. Elina enjoys arranging a wide variety of music for solo and ensemble settings.
Rene Izquierdo, a native of Cuba, graduated from the Guillermo Tomas, Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana. In the United States, Mr. Izquierdo earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma from the Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale he represented the university in an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse du Paris and worked with guitarists Olivie Chassain and Roland Dyens. Rene has appeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. He has shared the stage with prestigious guitarists including Eliot Fisk, Benjamin Verdery and Jorge Morel, as well as renowned flutist Ransom Wilson, soprano Lucy Shelton, David Jolley and Paquito d’Rivera. Renowned composers such as Jorge Morel and Carlos R. Rivera have dedicated works to him. Mr. Izquierdo is a recipient of numerous awards. He is a winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, Extremadura International Guitar Competition, Schadt String competition, Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition, among others. He is currently a professor of classical guitar at the Wisconsin State University in Milwaukee and an active solo performer and chamber musician worldwide. Rene has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kassner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser and Anthony Newman, among others.
Guitarist/Conductor/Composer/Arranger/Educator (and St. Catharines native) Timothy Phelan made his CBC debut recording at the age of eighteen as concerto soloist with Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and American conductor James DePreist, and he has since been heard in solo, concerto and chamber music broadcasts over CBC Radio & Television, Radio France, Radio Caribbean, Cuban Radio & Television, and Radio Jalisco (Mexico). He performs internationally as a solo guitarist, chamber musician and conductor, with concerts in many places throughout the world, including Canada, the USA, Mexico, Cuba, Martinique, Europe, Scandinavia and China (including performances in the megacities of Chongqing & Chengdu, and masterclasses at the Sechuan Conservatory of Music). Tim’s recent chamber music collaborators include fellow Canadian guitarist Emma Rush, violinist Julia Wedman (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra), Swedish cellist Kristin Malmborg, and Niagara Symphony Principal Flutist Doug Miller. As a member of The Gallery Players of Niagara, Tim collaborates with artists including world-renowned Canadian baritone Brett Polegato, the Eybler String Quartet and members of Tafelmusik. Tim is a prolific composer & arranger of music for solo guitar, guitar ensemble, and chamber music combinations with guitar. He has performed his compositions for guitar & choir with several of Canada’s finest choral ensembles, including Chorus Niagara & the Niagara Symphony, and he regularly conducts his guitar orchestra compositions at international guitar festivals. A former faculty member at both The University of Toronto and Mohawk College, Tim has taught at Brock University for the past decade.
Composer/arranger/guitarist Floyd Turner (b. 1955) began his guitar studies in 1962. His fate was sealed when, on the February 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan Show, he witnessed the first North American appearance by The Beatles. While in high school, he studied Piano and Theory with Ethel Kindy, and later, Classical Guitar performance with Jonathan Earp at Brock University. He subsequently studied Jazz Guitar performance with Lorne Lofsky and Jazz Theory with Shelly Berger at Humber College. Floyd currently focuses on new repertoire for solo Classical Guitar – both original compositions and concert-level solo arrangements of popular songs with a special focus on the 1960s. Many of these solo compositions and arrangements have been performed internationally by Timothy Phelan, in places as far-reaching as Mexico, Sweden and China, and several of his arrangements of Canadian music were recorded by Emma Rush on her Canadiana CD. Floyd’s large-scale work, Carpe Noctem, for Guitar Soloist with Guitar Orchestra (2017), was premiered at Brock University’s Guitar Extravaganza III with internationally-renowned Scottish guitarist Matthew McAllister as soloist. Floyd lives in Niagara Falls.
Emma Rush’s career has commanded world recognition. Recent touring highlights include a four-city tour in China, starting with the Altamira Shanghai International Guitar Festival, appearances at major guitar festivals including Festival de Guitarras Lagos de Moreno (Mexico), the Nyköping Gitaarseminarium (Sweden), and a prestigious concert at the Internationales Gitarren Symposion, Iserlohn (Germany). She tours throughout North America and in 2016-17 toured extensively in Eastern Canada as a Debut Atlantic artist. She performs regularly as Azuline Duo with flutist Sara Traficante and in 2018-19 the duo toured throughout Western Canada in the Yukon, BC, and Alberta. Rush recently appeared in the McMichael Gallery’s Group of Seven Guitar Project documentary alongside such notable guitarists as Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Cook, and Don Ross. In 2018 Rush completed two residencies to both create and research at the Sointula Art Shed in British Columbia and in Lübeck, Germany. She has received three City of Hamilton Arts Awards, and has had her work supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Hamilton City Enrichment Fund, and FACTOR. Rush is on faculty at Mohawk College in Hamilton. She has been a guest lecturer at colleges and universities throughout North America and was an Artist-in-Residence at the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University in the fall of 2016. Rush is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Guitar Hamilton concert series that includes the Hamilton Guitar Festival.
Paul Wiebe was born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario. After completing a B.A. in Music at Brock University, he went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a focus on music of the early modern period. Paul studied guitar with Timothy Phelan and Jonathan Earp. He has performed solo recitals and as an accompanist, and spent several years as a vihuelist in the University of Michigan’s El Mariachi Michicano. He has sung in numerous choirs, including the Avanti Chamber Ensemble. Paul currently lives with his family in St. Catharines, where he is an elementary school teacher.
James Bryan (b. James Bryan McCollum) is a Juno and Latin Grammy-winning Canadian guitarist, songwriter and producer. From his contributions as a member of 90’s acts Philosopher Kings and Prozzak, to his solo career and work with international artists Nelly Furtado, Luis Fonsi, Shawn Mendes and more, James has played on countless recordings and performed on stages from Wembley Stadium to Madison Square Gardens and Massey Hall. At the heart of all this music is the passionate, soulful and uplifting sound of James’ guitar. Hailed as one of Canada’s top guitarists, few songwriter/producers balance musicality and inspiration in the studio as effortlessly as James, and his track record with artists such as Nelly Furtado, Yuna, Backstreet Boys, Olly Murs, Luis Fonsi, Shawn Mendes and many more have proven the success of his approach. James grew up in St. Catharines and local guitar mentors include Timothy Phelan, Guy Cayen, and Warren Stirtzinger. While studying at the University of Toronto, James and some friends formed the Philosopher Kings, signing his first record deal with Sony at the age of 18. Platinum albums, a Juno award for best new group and tours across North America, Japan and Brazil gave James his first taste of success. His next band, Prozzak, became a pop culture phenomenon in Canada, further proving James’ skills as a songwriter and producer. His reputation for crafting hit songs, along with James’ instantly recognisable guitar style, began attracting other acts including Fefe Dobson and Nelly Furtado. After playing on her Grammy-winning debut Whoa Nelly and followup Folklore, James travelled the world with Nelly on the Loose Tour, including the Princess Diana Memorial Concert at Wembley Stadium in 2007, sharing the stage with Sir Elton John, Pharrell, Rod Stewart, Kanye West and more. Since then, James’ credits include co-writing and producing songs for Nelly’s Latin Grammy-winning album Mi Plan, work in London UK with Jessie J, James Morrison, Jason Mraz, James Blunt, and more, co-writing several songs for Lisa Marie Presley’s album Storm & Grace, and work with Malaysian singer/songwriter Yuna that led to MTV Europe Music Award and World Music Award nods. James has released three albums as a solo guitarist: Beautiful World (2005), By Your Side (2017), and Hush (2019).
In conjunction with Guitar Extravaganza 2020, guest artists René Izquierdo & Elina Chekan will also give masterclasses, plus a concert of their own featuring Solo and Duo Guitar Music.
Open to the public, Rene will give a class on Cuban Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday January 31 in MWS 156.
Also open to the public (with an auditor’s fee of $20) will be masterclasses for advanced students from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday February in MWS 104 and 107.
The concert of Solo and Duo Music will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday January 31 at St. Barnabas Church in St. Catharines. (Poster, left)