Behind the Ballet: Christopher Wilkinson, Symphony Nova Scotia CEO - Ballet Jörgen
Symphony Nova Scotia CEO Christopher Wilkinson & Conductor, Artist in Residence & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

 

 

 

The world premiere of Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™ is fast approaching. Canada’s Ballet Jörgen is thrilled to debut its newest production in Halifax on September 28 with the live orchestral accompaniment of Symphony Nova Scotia. Based in Halifax, Symphony Nova Scotia reaches over 80,000 Nova Scotians each year with performances and education programs across the province.

In this interview, Symphony Nova Scotia CEO Christopher Wilkinson shares his reflections on the orchestra’s history with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen and the exciting process of preparing for the world premiere of Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™.

 

“We’re one of the few major Canadian orchestras that regularly collaborates with a professional ballet company, and that’s really important to us.”

 

 

Describe the history of Symphony Nova Scotia’s relationship with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen.
Canada’s Ballet Jörgen and Symphony Nova Scotia have presented ballets together in Halifax for well over a decade. We’ve performed Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and contemporary productions like Anastasia. It’s been a long and fruitful relationship. I feel it’s important for our orchestra to present high-quality ballet and opera here in Nova Scotia, so this tradition with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen is vital to meeting that goal.

What does it mean to Symphony Nova Scotia to be partnering with CBJ for the world premiere of Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™?
We’re thrilled to be part of this collaboration and world premiere. We’re one of the few major Canadian orchestras that regularly collaborates with a professional ballet company, and that’s really important to us. We’re proud to have this association with a company that is so dedicated to bringing ballet to communities throughout Canada and, in particular, throughout the Maritimes.

 

 

 

The Alderney-Landing at Symphony Nova Scotia, photo by Kathy MacCulloch.

 

“It’s crucial to have consistency of tempo and a strong awareness of how the dancers are feeling.”

 

 

 

Who will be conducting the orchestra for the world premiere?
Our Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser will be conducting. Daniel has worked with us for a number of years, and he’s very popular with our audience. He also conducted Swan Lake with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen in Thunder Bay and Coppélia this past spring in Halifax, so there’s a deeper connection than just this one performance.

Are there special considerations that must be made when playing orchestral music to accompany dance?
Tempo is really important to dancers, so the conductor needs to be very aware of what’s happening onstage. Our orchestra is following the conductor, of course. If there’s a little bit of extra time needed for something, the conductor must allow for that flexibility. It’s crucial to have consistency of tempo and a strong awareness of how the dancers are feeling.

What is the orchestra’s process of preparing for this world premiere?
We first find out what the instrumentation is and what the arranger is planning, so we can know what size of orchestra we need to have available. We then go through a process of preparing the parts for the musicians. Once they’re done, our concertmaster puts in bowings, which is part of unifying all the string players. The musicians will get their music at least two weeks in advance for private preparation. Then we have a week of rehearsals: orchestra rehearsals, rehearsals with the company, dress rehearsals with the company, and then the shows!

Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet™ premieres in Halifax with the live accompaniment of Symphony Nova Scotia September 28, 2019. For ticket information and tour dates, visit the CBJ website.

 

Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.

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