Colin Maier

Quartetto Gelato opening Creston Concert Society’s 2015-2016 season

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It is a great pleasure for Creston Concert Society to again present the highly entertaining Quartetto Gelato as its 2015-2016 season opener on Sept. 29 at the New Life Christian Church. Its return performance is sure to be as energetic and engaging as when it first appeared over a decade ago.

For nearly two decades, this dazzling ensemble has enchanted audiences and critics worldwide with its exotic blend of musical virtuosity, artistic passion and humour. Classical in training — eclectic by design — Quartetto Gelato not only thrills its audiences with its multi-instrument mastery, but also offers the bonus of a brilliant operatic tenor. With a performance repertoire that spans the globe, including classical masterworks, operatic arias, the sizzling energy of tangos, gypsy and folk songs, the group’s theatrical stage presence and relaxed humor establishes an intimate rapport with audiences worldwide.

QG established itself as a dominant force on the music scene early in its career by winning the coveted title of NPR Performance Today’s debut artist of the year. The selection panel concluded the quartet was “an amazing ensemble that achieves the nearly impossible: they play salon music with real style and classical music with real precision; great chops and a commitment in all that they play.” In addition to being regularly heard on CBC and NPR radio, featured on the Hollywood soundtrack Only You and its 2007 Concert in Wine Country DVD being shown regularly on PBS, two CDs have literally been heard around the world, since they accompanied Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk during his NASA flight on board the space shuttle Columbia.

The quartet features Peter De Sotto, founding member of QG and a remarkable talent whose chameleon-like abilities allow him to perform on the violin not only as a seasoned classical violinist but also as a dazzling gypsy virtuoso. If that is not enough, the real surprise is his fabulous tenor voice, which ranges from South America to authentic Irish folk to the great romantic Italian songs and arias, including Turandot’s “Nessun Dorma”.  A member of the Toronto Symphony for 11 years, De Sotto was voted musician of the year in 1999 by the Toronto Musicians’ Association.

Also on stage will be Alex Sevastian. Born in Minsk, Belarus, Sevastian began his studies on the accordion at the age of seven. He began his professional career in Moscow in 1996, performing with the Russian Radio Orchestra, with whom he toured as a soloist throughout Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, and Japan. His advanced studies took him to the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow where he received his master’s degree in performance in 2002. Sevastian plays accordion, piano, bandoneon and has won four international awards for his accordion playing. After moving to Canada with his family in 2001, Sevastian joined QG in 2002.

Born and raised in Calgary, oboist Colin Maier graduated from the University of Calgary in 1997. In addition to oboe, Maier also plays clarinet, English horn, violin, five-string banjo, acoustic/electric bass, piano, saxophone, flute, guitar, mandolin and musical saw, and says he has yet to master the kitchen sink. He achieved a dream by joining QG in 2009, and said, “It is the greatest honor to follow in [founding member Cynthia Steljes’] footsteps and to share a stage (and while on tour, a carpool and hotel room) with these world class musicians.” As an oboist, Maier has played with groups such as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, National Ballet of Canada, Toronto Concert Orchestra and Symphony of the Kootenays, and had the honor of playing the devil fiddler in the flying blue canoe for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games opening ceremonies.

Cellist Greg Gallagher is the fourth member of the quartet, replacing Liza McLellan on this tour. Gallagher made his professional debut as a soloist with the New Brunswick Symphony in 2005. Gallagher has his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Western Ontario and is currently working as a teacher for the Sistema Toronto music program, as well as freelancing as a professional cellist in Toronto.

Quartetto Gelato performs 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the New Life Christian Church (1821 Elm Street), an alternate location is for this performance only, while new seats are being installed at the Prince Charles Theatre. Tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students, avaialbe in advance at Creative Fix, Black Bear Books and Kingfisher Books, or $25/$12 at the door.

—CRESTON CONCERT SOCIETY

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