Composer Profile – Andrew Staniland



Composer Andrew Staniland has firmly established himself as one of Canada’s most important and innovative musical voices. Described by Alex Ross in the New Yorker magazine as “alternately beautiful and terrifying”, his music is regularly heard on CBC Radio 2 and has been performed and broadcast internationally in over 35 countries. Andrew is the recipient of the 2009 National Grand Prize in EVOLUTION, presented by CBC Radio 2/Espace Musique and The Banff Centre, top prizes in the SOCAN young composers competition, and the 2004 Karen Keiser Prize in Canadian Music. As a leading composer of his generation, he has been recognized by election to the Inaugural Cohort of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists Royal Society of Canada in 2014.

Andrew has been Affiliate Composer to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2006-09) and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (2002–04), and has also been in residence at the Centre du Creation Musicale Iannis Xenakis (Paris, 2005). Recent commissioners include the Gryphon Trio, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Toronto Symphony, cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, and American Opera Projects. Andrew is the lead composer/educator with the Gryphon Trio’s Listen Up! education initiative, created and produced in collaboration with the Gryphon Trio and music educator Rob Kapilow. Andrew also performs himself, both as a guitarist and working with new media (computers and electronics). Andrew is currently on faculty at Memorial University in St John’s Newfoundland.

The SSO opens their 86th Season with Andrew’s Voyageur – from the composer:

‘Voyageur was commissioned for the TSO’s Northern Residency Tour in 2007 as part of a program to also feature Beethoven’s venerable 5th, penned in the early 1800s in Austria – a time and place that was producing what we now call the classical canon, but also a point in time at which Canada was so young we had yet to traverse it by water. In Europe, composers were defining and exploring the symphonic form; in North America, voyageurs were searching for a water route over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean – an interesting comparison. I was inspired by the adventurous, boisterous spirit that these early voyageurs must have had. Composers at their best embody this very spirit: exploring the new and unfamiliar, charting new courses of statement and expression.’



Meet Charles Richard-Hamelin

Silver medalist and laureate of the Krystian Zimerman award of the best sonata at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015, Charles Richard-Hamelin is standing out as one of the most important pianists of his generation. He also won the second prize at the Montreal International Musical Competition and the third prize and special award for the best performance of a Beethoven sonata at the Seoul International Music Competition in South Korea. In April 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Career Development Award offered by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto.

He has appeared in various prestigious festivals including the Prague Spring Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, “Chopin and his Europe” Festival in Warsaw and the Lanaudière Festival in Canada. As a soloist, he has performed with various ensembles including the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven Academy Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, OFUNAM (Mexico), Korean Symphony Orchestra and I Musici de Montréal.

Originally from Lanaudière in Québec, Charles Richard-Hamelin studied with Paul Surdulescu, Sara Laimon, Boris Berman and André Laplante. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in performance from McGill University in 2011 and a master’s degree from the Yale School of Music in 2013 and received full scholarships in both institutions. He also completed an Artist Diploma program at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal in 2016 and currently takes lessons on a regular basis with pianist Jean Saulnier. His first solo CD, which features late works by Chopin, was released on the Analekta label in September 2015 and received widespread acclaim from critics throughout the world (Diapason, BBC Music Magazine, Le Devoir).




“The fondamental qualities that we’ve always seen in this pianist remain the same : a real sonority that comes from his entire body, a large palette of colors and a real poetic sense. With his recent gain of freedom and experience, a true discourse emerges. […] His conduct is always impeccable. By conduct, I mean the architectural and emotional conception of a work, the tempo and mood relations, the dynamic layering. Additionally, when appropriate, a highly sensitive ear to the art of transition. That is exactly what gave him high marks in Warsaw, giving listeners the impression of living an experience, especially in the Third Sonata.”

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir (November 27, 2015)

“I had been waiting for such a performance since the beginning of the Competition. The man is every inch an artist, an extraordinarily mature musician who focuses on the beauty of Chopin’s works, which he performs with a high degree of consciousness. He is one of the few who can find a wise balance between the spirit of Chopin and his own individuality, which he demonstrated, for instance, in his masterful interpretation of the Ballade in A-flat major.”

Róża Światczyńska, Polish Radio 2 (October 7, 2015)

“His sense of time, his sense of harmony, above all his structural originalities are immensely sophisticated and daring. Richard-Hamelin seemed to be aware of the total Chopin – not just melting us with liquid line after liquid line of Chopin’s famous melodies, but exposing inner voices and harmonic twists in both left and right hands, and illuminating Chopin’s extraordinary structural gambits, especially in his Third Sonata which closed the program. At the end of a very long program of Chopin, Hamelin entranced his audience with the soft languor of his playing at one moment, passage-work that was always musical at another, bravura playing at yet another. He is an artist firmly on a unique and original path.”

Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail (January 17, 2016)

Aside from Cho’s epic performance, second-place winner Charles Richard-Hamelin also received much-earned roaring applause for his interpretation of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58. Richard-Hamelin’s set was so elegantly executed that one couldn’t help but be baffled that his performance was ranked second.

Julie Jackson, The Korea Herald (February 3, 2016)

 “Charles Richard-Hamelin’s cultivated playing showed in the emotional depth of his A flat major Ballade.”

John Allison, The Telegraph (October 22, 2015)

“Charles Richard-Hamelin ended the semis with a superbly absorbing concert where he seemed to follow his hands like a child after a butterfly. After an astonishing Pour le Piano by Debussy and some sweetly imaginative Scriabin, he performed Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 opulently and with unbelievable ease. He transmits love for the instrument.”

Lev Bratishenko, The Gazette (June 1, 2014)

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony

It’s tempting to feel sorry for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Hidden away amid the Fifth (the most famous opening four notes in the history of classical music, the Sixth (how could anyone fail to love the ‘Pastoral’?) and the mighty colossus that is his Ninth, you feel as if the Seventh is a work that could easily get forgotten.

That fate has arguably befallen Symphony No. 8 – but not No. 7. The raw power and drama found in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 seem, in many ways, to be receiving their first full outing here. There’s a visceral quality to the music – not least in the almost crazed finale when the musicians appear to be playing as if their lives depend on it. The sombre second movement, which featured in the film The King’s Speech and summed up the moment perfectly, is a wonderful blend between orchestral gravitas and the swelling tunes Beethoven writes so well. In the case of the premiere, those orchestral musicians included fellow composers Meyerbeer, Spohr and Moscheles, with Beethoven himself on the podium.

Described by Wagner, no less, as ‘the apotheosis of the dance’, this four-movement symphony begins in grave, sombre tones. Not for Beethoven the stirring opening to the Fifth, or the lilting, sunny start to the Sixth; instead, the orchestral colours are dark, creating a sense of foreboding about what’s to come. The lightness of touch in later parts of the symphony – particularly the third movement – is therefore surprising, with some parts seeming very consciously to link back to the light-hearted mood of the Pastoral. The unbounded finale, meanwhile, was apparently summed up by Tchaikovsky as ‘a whole series of images, full of unrestrained joy, full of bliss and pleasure of life’.


Beethoven’s 7th

The Seventh Symphony’s premiere concert [on December 8, 1813] was performed to benefit the soldiers wounded a few months earlier in the battle of Hanau. It was one of Beethoven’s most successful concerts.

Viennese audiences, miserable from Napoleon’s 1805 and 1809 occupations of Vienna and hopefully awaiting a victory over him, embraced the symphony’s energy and beauty.

Even today, the second movement remains extremely popular and is often performed separately.

Occasionally, Beethoven wrote something that was immediately recognized as both artistically great and hugely popular. An example is the second movement of his Seventh Symphony, a piece that was often performed separately from the complete Symphony and that may have been Beethoven’s most popular orchestral composition.

It also exerted extraordinary influence on later composers, as the slow movements of Schubert’s “Great” C-major Symphony and E-flat Piano Trio, Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, and other works attest.

After its premiere, the Seventh Symphony was repeated three times in the following 10 weeks; at one of the performances the “applause rose to the point of ecstasy,” according to a newspaper account.