The Kingston Symphony Orchestra’s ode to bad behaviour

Evan Mitchell discusses excess, gluttony and upcoming performances 

Evan Mitchell conducts the Kingston Symphony Orchestra.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by the Kingston Symphony association

This weekend, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra is going to be letting their hair down.

Playing this Saturday and Sunday at the Isabel Bader Centre, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra accompanied by the Queen’s choral ensemble will be performing the 1930’s Carmina Burana—symphony’s ode to bad behaviour. 

Kingston Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Evan Mitchell—who’s programming and conducting the evening—is excited to put on a show celebrating the excesses in life. 

“[Carmina  Burana] is one of those pieces that we know everyone loves, so it’s always a lot of fun whenever we’re able to perform it,” Mitchell said in an interview with The Journal.  “It’s a very raucous piece, filled with all sorts of craziness—it’s really a chance for us to let our hair down.”

For Mitchell, this will be his first time programming the production and he plans to put his own spin on the evening. Due to the length of the production, pieces need to be added to justify an intermission. 

To add on to the running time, the Orchestra will be performing two additional pieces. The first will be an overture from the opera Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret) in which a woman is trying to hide her smoking habit from her husband, but her secrecy leads him to believe she’s having an affair. 

The second piece will be performed by the choir’s Soprano soloist Elizabeth Polese, who will be singing a piece from Ethyl Smyth’s Opera in which the character Mrs. Waters shares her thoughts on finding love at a later age. As she’s sharing her deepest thoughts, drunken pub-crawlers tumble into her tavern at 3 a.m. for a final drink. 

These pieces, Mitchell believes, play on the themes of excess and temptation that are explored in Carmina Burana and will complement the story for the audience. 

For many, a trip to the symphony can seem a daunting experience, but Mitchell wants to dispel that myth. While many believe that a trip to the symphony will be a stuffy affair, he thinks that productions like Carmina Burana show that symphony can be anything but stuffy. 

“We’re constantly fighting a war of perception. An afternoon at the symphony is an afternoon of exposure to great art, and great art in all of its forms can be the entire spectrum of emotions—both big and small,” he said. 

Mitchell added that regardless of perception, the coming-together of 50 to 60 musicians to share their art and their work is bound to be an intimate and heartfelt experience. 

In addition to the performance, Mitchell will host an open discussion an hour before the shows, open to all ticket-holders. Queen’s students will have access to tickets at a discounted ticket rate.

While the orchestra performs regularly throughout the year, Carmina Burana is an opportunity for students unfamiliar with it to dip their toes into new realms and discover excess at the symphony.  

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