Soaring orchestral melodies and thousands of birds circling overhead?  It could only be the creation of Maestro Rune Bergmann and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) June 1st and 2nd in Alberta.

This past weekend we had the extraordinary opportunity to hear a beautifully orchestrated and highly diverse program led by Maestro Bergmann, played by our CPO,and featuring world-renowned Israeli clarinetist Sharon Kam.

Kam swayed as she played, perfectly in sync with her clarinet.Refined and passionate, she showedwhat Mozart meant us to hear with his classic Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622.

Playing for much longer than most soloists (happily for us!), Kam took us on a journey that included Debussy’s Premiere Rapsodie for Clarinet and Orchestra and demonstrated what the clarinet in the strong, but delicate, hands of a master is capable of. Ethereal and other-worldly, and at times almost unbearably sweet, the joy and sadness of one of Mozart’s last works was in perfect harmony with the CPO. Thank you, Sharon Kam.

Continuing our adventure, Maestro Bergmann presented the stunning Cantus Arcticus, Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, Op. 61 by a Finnish composer little known to most Calgarians. Einojuhani Rautavaara captured the magnificent  birdsong of the north and combined it with an orchestral piece of unearthly beauty and joy, impressing both audience and the musicians, who seemed to enjoy the piece as much as the listeners.

The Jack Singer Concert Hall was filled with the sounds of thousands of birds swooping and calling and migrating swans chattering to each other as they flew overhead. It was so real and so well done that people would start from their reveries and look up to see if there really were wings above their heads.

Soaring atop a wave of music, the orchestra was lush and perfectly balanced. Adding the natural sounds of birdsong created an unparalleled experience of wonder. I closed my eyes and was transported back to the northern tundra filled with musk-ox and swans – an unlikely fusion- and I thought of life on the shores of Antarctica. This concert featured the noise of life that is music at its best.

The CPO’s Resident Conductor Karl Hirzer managed the flights of the birds like a master, always with an intent, rapt and gleeful expression. Hirzer reflected the mien of the audience;I’ve rarely seen listeners so completely transported.

With Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” we flew over the lands of Russia, coming to earth with  the second standing ovation of the evening. People simply didn’t want to leave.

The CPO continuously creates musical experiences of this magnitude. The programming is a combination of talent, imagination, technical expertise, and courage.

Thank you to Maestro Bergmann, CEO Paul Dornian, soloist Sharon Kam, and of course our amazing and dedicated CPO musicians for their willingness to undertake every challenge with grace, creating this highlight of the Season.

The Brussa Brava! Legacy Programme is a proud sponsor of Maestro Rune Bergmann. Thank you also to many of the other sponsors and people who make this happen, including the John and Naomi Lacey Virtuoso Programme, and the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust.

 Written by Andrea Brussa.


Andrea Brussa is the founder of the The Brussa Brava! Legacy Programme. This programme has sponsored over 80 guest conductors. The Brussa Brava! Legacy Programme is the proud sponsor of CPO’s Music Director, Rune Bergmann for the 2017/2018 Season.

Your donation towards the Brussa Brava! Legacy Programme serves to elevate the music and the reputation of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.