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Remembering the Titan


THUNDER BAY, ON   ---   May 4, 2012  Some concerts are more memorable than others, and the closing concert of the TBSO season titled “Titans” Jamie Parker in reference to Mahler’s symphony by that name. Mahler struggled a great deal in writing all of his orchestral works, in the end he wanted his composition to achieve his very own high expectations. After all in music composers are competing against the giants from the past as well as their contemporaries.

Mahler wrote for large orchestral forces, his orchestra had more musicians than we will ever see on stage in Thunder Bay. There were 41 musicians on stage for this performance, there were two extra cellos, an additional French horn player, and the full single reed family of instruments were heard but one musician played more than one instrument. Bartholomew Poyser showed he is a multi-talent many by playing the tuba. There was a harp on stage as well as extra percussion and violin players.

Arthur Post has managed to pull a rabbit from a hat in that he has produced a convincing Mahler sound from our normally Mozart sized TBSO. The addition of a single French horn may not sound like a big deal but the horn section contributes a disproportionately large percentage of the sound you hear from the orchestra. I am sure that 4-5 horns could easily balance the rest of the orchestra. We have had an excellent string section for many years , the woodwinds have always been brilliant and in recent years equally brilliant brass players have rounded out the orchestra.  So with a little imagination and the talent we have in this orchestra, Arthur Post has managed to do justice to Mahler’s Titan Symphony. I might add that the excellent venue, Thunder Bay’s Community Auditorium was a silent star in the programme.

The last concert of the season is always bitter-sweet. We had a great orchestral season this year; each concert offered so much to look forward to. This particular concert felt like a reunion of past and present. James Parker returned to play  Mozart’s twelfth piano  concerto. His playing, the music and the orchestra worked together to produce a sound that was simply sublime. He has played with the TBSO about four times in the past and as a member of the Gryphon trio he will be returning to grace our concert hall next season.

It was old home week for two other reasons as well. Steve Collins and Tim Fitzgerald, once members of the TBSO, were among the addition and substituting musicians on stage. Time had remarked how nice it was to come to Thunder Bay for this concert, “it’s such a great orchestra”.

This masterworks concert was programmed in the traditional manner, beginning with an orchestral appetiser, a concerto of note, and closing with a full symphonic masterpiece. Many of the other concerts in this season’s series contained elements intended to grow the audience and perhaps attract more pops people to these concerts. For whatever reason, this concert was the best attended concert for the masterworks series. No gimmicks!

Canadian composer Jordan Nobles piece opened the concert. His piece inspired by the mystery of the Aurora Borealis was new to me. It was everything that an orchestral appetiser should be. The beautiful sounds of the strings were highlighted with a very creative use of percussion. Bows were used to play cymbals and bells of various sorts. The sound was just right for the effect of the Aurora Borealis.

This will be a memorable concert, the orchestra needs to end on a strong note because it is the reputation and memory of this season that will help launch next season. All patrons entering the Auditorium Thursday night were greeted by orchestra members armed with a season’s brochure for next season.  By subscribing early you cans save up to 40% of single ticket prices. Visit their website at for more information or call 807 474 2284.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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