My soloist is a witch

My soloist is a witch


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2011

Most classical composers would do just about anything, short of skinny-dipping in Times Square in mid-January, to see their name up in lights. Vincent Ho, who is Canadian and very young – neither of which is an excuse – was casting around for attention on the eve of a premiere when he named the inspiration of his new percussion concerto as ‘a modern-day shaman, an intermediary between the human and the spirit world.’

Now I know Dame Evelyn Glennie has her spooky moments, but I’ve never thought of her before as a queen of the ouija board or one of the three predictors in Macbeth. She is a lady who bangs things for a living, and on Jan 29 in Winnipeg she will be knocking out Mr Ho’s new concerto, titled (you guessed) The Shaman. Come to think of it, though…

Press release follows:







By Vincent Ho

Percussion Concerto featuring Dame Evelyn Glennie

Winnipeg, Toronto & Ottawa


World Premiere Performance: January 29, 2011

Opening Gala of Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s 20th New Music Festival

Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg


Toronto Premiere: March 2, 2011

Part of Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto


For Immediate Release – Toronto, ON – January 5, 2011Following the success of his refreshing Arctic Symphony in February 2010, Canadian composer Vincent Ho delivers a brand new piece filled with fire and unbridled energy. The Shaman – a percussion concerto written for Dame Evelyn Glennie – will receive its world premiere on January 29, 2011 by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. This performance, conducted by Alexander Mickelthwate is part of the WSO’s New Music Festival: 20th Anniversary Edition.  Ms. Glennie will also perform The Shaman with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Peter Oundjian on March 2, 2011, as part of the TSO’s New Creations Festival. Moreover, Ms. Glennie will reprise The Shaman with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra as part of their 2012/2013 season (details TBA). The Shaman has been commissioned by the WSO, NACO and The Manitoba Arts Council at the request of Dame Evelyn Glennie. After hearing about the Arctic Symphony last year, the celebrated percussionist took note of Vincent Ho’s talent, remarking that his ‘consideration towards the audience’s experience is as important as the music itself.’ 


Ho’s Arctic Symphony has been described as “a beautifully thought-provoking way to promote the message of climate change”, and acclaimed as “a mature and atmospheric work that firmly establishes Ho among North American composers of note” (Winnipeg Free Press). But this time, Ho wanted to “unleash his inner inferno”. The Shaman, a 30-minute piece in three movements, is filled with passion and sizzle, and culminates in an explosive finale.


“For me, Dame Evelyn Glennie is a modern-day shaman – an intermediary between the human and spirit world”, explains Vincent Ho. “Her performances are more than just visual or aural experiences – they are “spiritual” events. She has the uncanny ability to draw the audien

ce into a magical world and take us on wondrous journeys that are beyond material existence. Every performance she delivers leaves the audience spellbound and spiritually nourished.”



Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. As one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians on the scene today she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion, and creating performances of such vitality that they almost constitute a new type of performance.  




Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1975, Vincent Ho has emerged as one of the most exciting composers of his generation. His works have been hailed for their profound expressivity and textural beauty that has audiences talking about with great enthusiasm. His many awards have included Harvard University’s Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts’ “Robert Fleming Prize,” ASCAP’s “Morton Gould Young Composer Award,” four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio’s Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers’ Competition). He is currently the Composer-In-Residence to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. After studying music in Calgary, Toronto and Paris, he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California in 2006. An accomplished pianist, Vincent Ho is also a former dance teacher and an avid runner. He enjoys exploring the vast world of creative thinking, bridging Eastern and Western musical languages.


In September 2010, Vincent Ho was signed by the prestigious Promethean Editions“Promethean Editions is thrilled to announce the addition of Vincent Ho to our group of House Composers, and being 35 years old is the youngest, alongside Gareth Farr, Christos Hatzis and John Psathas. Ho shares with Promethean Editions’ other House Composers a musical ethos that is high in energy, emotionally evocative, and integrates contrasting influences into a cohesive and unique style of his own”, said the announcement. “Vincent Ho brings to Promethean music that fuses instrumental timbre and characteristically textural gestures with provocative trajectories and an immediacy that conductors, orchestras, audiences and critics alike are talking about with enthusiasm.”


Vincent Ho’s upcoming projects include a Concerto for Piano, Strings, Percussion and Spatialized Winds/Brass (for Jenny Lin, soloist and the WSO), a Cello Concerto (WSO), and a piece for Flute and Piano. The young composer is also working at re-editing past works for Promethean publications.


For more information, please visit:

·         Vincent Ho:

·         Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra:

·         Toronto Symphony Orchestra:

·         National Arts Centre Orchestra:




By Vincent Ho

World Premiere Performance: January 29, 2011

Pre-concert talk at 7:30PM; 8PM performance

2011 Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival

Alexander Mickelthwate, WSO Director

Centennial Concert Hall: 555 Main St Winnipeg, Manitoba

For tickets, visit


Toronto Premiere: March 2, 2010

8PM performance; Intermission Chat in the Lobby

Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival

Peter Oundjian, TSO Music Director

Roy Thomson Hall: 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto

For tickets, visit




Media contact: Francine Labelle/flINK

416 654-4406< /u>