Have a Highland Romance…with the Peterborough Symphony!

06 Nov 2013, Posted by admin in News


PSO logo

For immediate release:

November 6, 2013

For interviews contact:

Tori Owen, General Manager: 705-742-1992

Michael Newnham, Music Director: 705-760-1693


For PHOTOS visit:

  (Michael Newnham) https://www.dropbox.com/s/kvh58zl4c8kfr2l/IMG_8780%20Michael%20with%20Feeling.tiff

(Violin Soloist, Tak Kwan) https://www.dropbox.com/s/d2rx4irqq1icmzh/IMG_9323%20Tak.jpg

Have a Highland Romance…with the Peterborough Symphony!


Peterborough, ON – On Saturday, November 16th the Peterborough Symphony celebrates St. Andrew’s Day with Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, and shares Scotland’s love affair with the violin as Concertmaster Tak Kwan features with Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances No. 1.  “Highland Romance” promises to sweep you off your feet and transport you to another time and place for a taste of Scotland!

slider-takTak Kwan started playing violin in Hong Kong at the age of seven. He won numerous prizes in competition and was invited to perform as a soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Ensemble in 1986.

In 1988, he received a scholarship from the Hong Kong Bank to attend Wells Cathedral School in England, during which time he studied under Simon Fischer. He was also invited to give a recital in West Germany. He later received scholarships to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he studied with David Zafer, Lorand Fenyves and Jose-Luis Garcia. During his study, he received scholarships to attend the Colorado Springs Music Festival in 1994 and 1995. In 2011, he was selected to attend the Starling-DeLay Violin Symposium at Juilliard School of Music.

From 2002 to 2010, Tak toured the United States and France as a soloist as well as a chamber musician. In 2003 and 2007, Tak gave performances to a crowd of over 10,000 in Toronto and Tampa, Florida respectively. In 2010, Tak was invited to perform a premiere work of string quartet as the leading violinist in St. Paul, MN. In the same year, he performed for the Queen of England in Toronto.  He also appears in different music festivals in Ontario as a soloist as well as an adjudicator.

In addition to his Peterborough role as concertmaster, Tak is also concertmaster for the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir where he will be featured as a guest soloist in February, 2014.  Married to Tara-Lee, Tak is a fitness buff, avid tennis player and marathon runner. His latest hobby is to spend time with their first child, Katherine Hannah who will turn 10 months old in November.

The Scottish Symphony (excerpted from program notes by Joe MacNab)

Felix Mendelssohn established himself as Mozart’s only rival as far as precocity is concerned and by the age of eleven he had written more than sixty compositions including a cantata and an opera.  Claiming to have been inspired to write the Scottish Symphony on his first visit to Britain in 1829, Mendelssohn did not complete it until 1842.

After a series of successful concerts in London on that first of ten visits to the British Isles, he set off on a walking tour of Scotland visiting Hollyrood Palace and jotted down the symphony’s opening theme.  He continued work on sketches for a symphony but after 1831 set the piece aside.  In 1841 he came back to it.  It was his fifth and final symphony although it was the third to be published and therefore is known as symphony number three.

“The emotional scope of the work is wide,” consisting of an introduction probably inspired by Weber, which is a landscape painting in his best style. Then we hear a melody in a minor key, which is as “ Scotch [sic] as heather”.  There is a sudden thunderstorm – Mendelssohn’s attempt at realism – then finally a return to the peaceful landscape.  The lively second movement is melodically and rhythmically in the style of Scottish folk music, although no direct quotations have been identified.  The slow movement apparently was inspired by his meditations at Hollyrood Palace, but to some it feels more like a return to Germany!  The finale is a “wild dance of rude Highlanders” who stamp furiously into a coda that strangely returns to Germany.  It has a majestic theme that closes the work in a completely different manner from that which has preceded it.

Violin Concerto No.1  (Max Bruch 1838 – 1920)

Bruch started composing at an early age. Having a mother who was a singer and teacher helped.  His first compositions, some chamber music, were written at age 11.  In 1852, he won a prize for his string quartet and the money allowed him to study composition and theory with Ferdinand Hiller.  In 1858 he established himself as a music teacher in his hometown, Cologne, where his first opera was performed.  His activities included composition, teaching and conducting which took him all over the place.  Recognition of his importance as a composer came in 1891 when he was given the title of Professor at the Berlin Academy.

His tuneful style had affinities with music of various countries, but this easily understood music tended to have a limited shelf life.  Bruch’s music has always been more popular abroad than in Germany.  Indeed, during the Nazi era, it was banned because he was thought to have Jewish roots (because of the success of his Kol Nidre).  The three pieces that have remained in the repertoire are for violin and orchestra; this work is a favourite the world over.



Highland Romance

November 16, 2013 at 8:00pm, Showplace (290 George St. North)

GUEST ARTISTS: Tak Kwan, violin

Tickets: $39.50/36.50/28.50 for Adults | $15 for Students & Rush Seats | $15 for Tweet Seats (#psolive) | $5 for eyeGO

Peterborough Symphony Orchestra Music Director Michael Newnham celebrates his 13th season with the orchestra.  Maestro Newnham begins each concert evening at 7:10pm with fascinating and engaging pre-concert chat, which can include guest appearances and multi media presentations.



The Peterborough Symphony Orchestra is celebrating 46 years as a cultural cornerstone of our community, and has developed a reputation as being one of the best community orchestras in Canada.

Learn more at www.thepso.org or by calling (705)742-1992.


The Peterborough Symphony is generously supported by:


Glen Colbourne Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation

City of Peterborough

Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation

The Pilkington-Henniger Charitable Trust

The Dawe Family Foundation

The Barns Donation Fund

The Peterborough Foundation

RBC Emerging Artists Program

Glen Colbourne Fund/Toronto Community Foundation

The Ontario Arts Council

The Peterborough Examiner

The New Classical 103.1

Natas Café