From the Maestro
2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday. While considering how to recognize and celebrate that occasion, I realized that a Canada 150 concert could be part of a season featuring the colours and variety of the music of all the Americas. From the Canadian North to the southern tip of Chile, the Americas are home to a little over a billion inhabitants—their music, their rhythms, and their emotions.
The 2017-18 season is full of fantastic, vibrant, and exciting music. Here are some of the highlights:
- For our season opener, OH! CANADA, we are proud to present one of the world’s outstanding pianists, Canadian Stewart Goodyear, for the Canadian premiere of his new piano concerto, Callaloo, a virtuoso showpiece full of the exotic rhythms and colours of the Caribbean.
- In ICETIME, our holiday concert, we present The Hockey Sweater, a nostalgic look at the era when Les Canadiens were often Stanley Cup champions…and the Maple Leafs weren’t!
- We heat up the Calgary winter with FESTIVAL DA MÚSICA, showcasing the rhythms and colours of Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, performed by an all-star cast of Calgarian soloists.
- 2017 also marks the 70th birthday of John Adams, one of the most prolific American composers. We are therefore very excited about bringing you his concerto for 6-string electric violin, Dharma at Big Sur. Adams composed it for the opening of Disney Hall in Los Angeles. This work, performed by CPO concertmaster Diana Cohen, is a live performance experience not to be missed! On that same STARS AND STRIPES program is one of my favourites, Catfish Row, George Gershwin’s own suite from the greatest American opera, Porgy and Bess.
- Finally, we present RISING STARS, the winners of the C3 Competition. To finish THE AMERICAS in a blaze of glory, the orchestra plays Ridout’s Fall Fair and returns once again to John Adams, this time with 4½ of the most exciting minutes in music, Short Ride in a Fast Machine.
As I enter my 10th season with the Calgary Civic Symphony, I continue to be amazed (but no longer surprised) at what this group of music lovers can do. Their dedication to quality and their embrace of some very challenging music is remarkable. Come and experience us—hearing is believing!
Artistic Director and Conductor
Rolf Bertsch’s Biography
“Confident and fluid on the podium, this Canadian is obviously a natural conductor who has been trapped too long in a pianist’s body...” Montreal, The Gazette
Hailed for his passion and natural musicianship, Rolf Bertsch has quickly become one of Canada’s leading conductors. Appointed Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal by Charles Dutoit in January 2000 and named Conductor in Residence for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons. He has built an impressive reputation as a conductor, pianist, communicator, teacher and adjudicator. His career spans a broad spectrum of musical experience and styles. Accordingly, it has taken him to Europe, Asia, and throughout North and South America.
Mr. Bertsch began his musical studies on the violin and went on to study piano, cello, composition, jazz, and conducting. He also holds diplomas from many prestigious institutions including McGill University, the Mozarteum (Salzburg), the Conservatoire de musique du Québec (Montréal), the Folkwang Hochschule (Essen, Germany), and Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts).
Laureate of numerous competitions, Rolf Bertsch served for many years as the pianist of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Additionally, as a solo pianist and also as conductor for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. His career as a pianist has included a solo performance with the OSM in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall.
Rolf Bertsch’s career took an important turn when he was named Resident Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He held the position from 1998-2001. During this highly successful tenure, he also served as Music Director of the Calgary Civic Symphony Orchestra and Altius Brass. He also worked regularly with Calgary’s chamber music ensemble Rosa Selvetica and at the University of Calgary.
Rolf Bertsch has conducted most of the orchestras in Canada including those of Montreal, Toronto, the National Arts Centre, Calgary, Edmonton, Québec, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Nova Scotia. While in those posts, he has collaborated with many of Canada’s and the world’s finest artists.
In 2005, he was part of an international faculty at the Canton International Summer Music Academy in Guangzhou, China. In the last year, he worked at the Canada Council for the Arts as the Program Officer for the Professional Orchestra and Opera/Music Theatre programs. He oversaw the federal granting process for those communities.
In addition to his duties as Music Director and Conductor of the Calgary Civic Symphony, he teaches piano and coaches Academy program students at the Mount Royal University Conservatory. He also works as a freelance conductor, pianist and arts consultant.
Previous Music Directors / Conductors
The Calgary Civic Symphony has had the pleasure of with working with very talented music directors and guest conductors.
- Kenneth L. Nielsen, 1975-1983
- Stephen Franse, 1983-1986
- Janos Horvath, 1988-1993
- Gerald Wirth, 1994-1998
- Rolf Bertsch, 1998-2000
- Mel Kirby, 2000-2002
- Rosemary Thomson, 2002-2008
- Rolf Bertsch, 2008 – present