RICH and smooth, lustrous and shining, mellow and golden; eloquent and sensuous, vibrant and sparking, or introspective and calm; but also fiery and dazzling: these are some of the many characteristics of the instrument that has been chosen to open the 39th concert year of Consortium Aurora Borealis this Saturday. The Golden Violin is an apt title for the sounds that will be heard in this, the first of seven concerts in, as Consortium’s 2017-2018 season of musical offerings has been designated.

Superstar violinist Yehudi Menuhin once said, “The violinist is that peculiarly human phenomenon distilled to a rare potency - half tiger, half-poet.”

Cast in this role is Thomas Cosbey, concertmaster of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, who will be coaxing a wide range of sound and expression out of his instrument. His instrument both sings and dances.

Partnering with Cosbey is pianist Heather Morrison, who will play an equal role in drawing out the music, which is often every bit as demanding in the piano part as in the violin line. These two performers are both favourites of Thunder Bay audiences, and Consortium is delighted to welcome them back. They will perform works mostly from the Romantic Era, including virtuosic showpieces as well as music of a gentler nature. Many moods will be depicted, with a diversity of styles. The selections come from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and America.

The centrepiece is the extraordinary, magical Violin Sonata No.1, Opus 78 (Rain Sonata) by Brahms, with literary and musical allusions to rain throughout.

Also on offer are appealing short lyrical works by Schumann and Fauré, a soulful Hebraic-inspired piece by Bloch, and a rhapsodic, folk dance-inspired Czárdás. Cosbey then gets a fiery workout in tours-de-force works by virtuoso violinist/composers Bazzini and Sarasate.

Thomas Cosbey moved to Thunder Bay from his hometown of Regina in 2007, to assume the position of Concertmaster of the TBSO. He has been featured as soloist with a number of symphony orchestras, has collaborated in concert with various well-known musicians, has often been broadcast on CBC Radio, and has won top prizes at numerous competitions.

Cosbey is rooted in Thunder Bay’s classical music scene, performing with Consortium Aurora Borealis, SYKE, and others. He has held the position of Music Director of the Thunder Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra since 2012, and maintains a busy violin studio. Cosbey performs on a violin by Hungarian maker István Konya (1974), which will be heard to its advantage in Monti’s famous Hungarian Czárdás.

Heather Morrison, principal keyboard with the TBSO since 1976, is a lecturer in Lakehead University’s Department of Music. She is also concert co-ordinator and faculty pianist for Interprovincial Music Camp, held annually in the Muskokas. Chamber music has always been central to her life; she has enjoyed collaborations with many local, national and international artists. She is a founding member of the trio MuSiC in Common, and is an active clinician and adjudicator across the country.

Morrison recently started her second term as a Unitarian Lay Chaplain, her first official duty being to perform the wedding ceremony for Sonya Nanos, who appeared as cellist with Consortium in several concerts. Morrison has been appearing with Consortium since 1981, and last year celebrated her 40th anniversary of bringing joy and music to the people of Thunder Bay.

This concert provides a wonderful opportunity to experience a memorable and thrilling evening of music-making with two of our very finest local musicians! Everyone is warmly invited to be part of the excitement!

Elizabeth Ganiatsos is the Artistic Director of Consortium Aurora Borealis

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