Last season, a bond was forged between Les Violons du Roy, Nicolas Ellis, and Kerson Leong. It is therefore a joy to see them together again to perform works that draw on poetry and the passage of time in a program delicately built around Schubert’s heart-wrenching quartet “Death and the Maiden.”
Conductors and soloists
Nicolas Ellis is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Orchestre de l’Agora and currently serves as Artistic Partner to the Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Mr. Ellis has been invited as guest conductor with Les Violons du Roy, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, the Orchestre Métropolitain, Symphony Nova Scotia, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and has had the opportunity to perform with artists such as cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin.
He completed his Master’s Degree at the McGill University in conducting with Alexis Hauser and was a conducting fellow at the Aspen Music Festival where he studied with Robert Spano. During the summer of 2019, he was part of the Verbier Festival Academy where he acted as assistant conductor to Music Director Valery Gergiev on a production of Die Frau ohne Schatten.
In 2013, he founded the Orchestre de l’Agora, an orchestra whose mission is to position the classical musician as an agent of social change within the community. The ensemble has built collaborations with the music program of the Share the Warmth Foundation and Les Porteurs de musique, giving workshops to kids coming from underprivileged neighbourhoods and to people who don’t have access to music such as psychiatric centres, prisons and shelters for women. Their recent production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal was recorded by ICI Musique and CBC Music and has been broadcasted nationally. During the 2019-2020 season, the orchestra underwent its first tour across Québec, presenting 16 concerts as a string ensemble. On April 22nd 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora donated $138,000 to Earth Day Canada, the Sierra Club Canada and Nature Conservancy of Canada through the Gala de la Terre, an important fundraising event to protect the St-Laurent River’s estuary. In February 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora was also the resident orchestra of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal during a two week intensive clinic on Bel canto repertoire.
Nicolas Ellis is the recipient of the 2017 Bourse de carrière Fernand-Lindsay and the Heinz Unger Award 2015 delivered by the Ontario Arts Council and was recently named Revelation of the year 2018-2019 by Radio-Canada.
Kerson Leong first took the music world by storm in 2010 by winning the coveted Junior First Prize at the prestigious Menuhin Competition. Having been called “Canada’s next great violinist” (Ludwig van Toronto), he has distinguished himself with his unique approach as one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation. During the 2018/2019 season, he was Artist in Residence with Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal under Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
Kerson Leong has played in some of the world’ most prestigious concert venues, from Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Auditorium du Louvre to Wigmore Hall and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He is in regular demand as a soloist, having performed with such ensembles as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Gulbenkian, the Stockton Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, as well as numerous other orchestras in his home country.
He is also an avid and passionate chamber musician. Since his debut at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland in 2011, he has been featured at many renowned international festivals and concert series, including the Verbier Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Fraenkische Musiktage, Flâneries musicales de Reims, Bergen International Festival, Trasimeno Music Festival, Schiermonnikoog Chamber Music Festival, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Ottawa International Chamberfest, Music and Beyond, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s Virée classique, and Domaine Forget International Music Festival among others.
Kerson Leong released Bis, his first album for Analekta showcasing a collection of encore pieces, to critical acclaim. He recorded John Rutter’s Visions with the composer himself and the Aurora Chamber Orchestra for Collegium Records, after giving its world premiere in London, UK. He has also been invited by Canadian composer Francois Dompierre to record his piece Les Diableries.
Kerson Leong performs on a 1741 Guarneri del Gesu courtesy of Canimex Inc, Drummondville (Quebec), Canada.
A Letter from the Afterlife from Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems
Langsamer Satz (version for string orchestra)
Concerto funebre for Violin and String Orchestra
Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D. 810 “Death and the Maiden” (version for string orchestra)