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Tsitsos to kick off City of Thompson Concert Series for 2009-10

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Thompson-born violinist Steven Tsitsos will kick of the City of Thompson’s Concert Series for 2009-10 Sept. 26 at R.D. Parker Collegiate’s Letkemann Theatre, says Chris Sharpe, the city’s new culture co-ordinator.

Tsitsos is establishing himself as one of Canada’s fastest-rising musicians. He started both piano and violin at the relatively late age of 10.

Upon his insistence, his parents agreed to make the 1,600-kolometres round-trip to Winnipeg since there was no violin teacher in Thompson. Both an accomplished violinist and pianist, Tsitsos entered the Royal Conservatory of Music at the age of 11 and in 2007 he completed his ARCT Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory for violin and piano at the age of 17 and has received 9 consecutive silver medals.

In 2003, Tsitsos opened for violinist Jasper Wood during his Prairie debut tour and has appeared on the CBC program “Definitely not The Opera.”

Highly interested in chamber and more modern music, Tsitsos is constantly expanding his repertoire and also composes both classical and contemporary music. He is also an advocate for lesser-known composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tsitsos has attended the prestigious Chautauqua Music Festival in New York three consecutive times on full scholarship.

Since his professional debut, Tsitsos has become a distinguished recitalist with sold-out recitals in North America and Europe.

As an independent recording artist, Tsitsos self-titled debut CD garnered an immediate amount of success, his most recent recording entitled “Impressions” features works by Faure, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Lalo.

He has long studied violin under renowned violinist Jacques Israelievitch and piano with both Peter Longworth and acclaimed concert pianist Andre Laplante.

Tsitsos performed a Christmas concert, presented by the now-defunct Thompson Arts Council, accompanied by Longworth, at the Letkemann Theatre Dec. 15, 2007 which included Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, and the Sonata No. 7, Op. 30. No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven. Longworth is a faculty member of the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he also maintains a private studio. The page-turner was Tsitsos’ first piano teacher, Allison Coles.
The second half of that evening almost two years ago began with Ravel’s Piece en forme d’habanera, and Six Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok. Next came Poeme Op. 25 by Chausson and Danzas Espanolas by Granados. Fritz Kreisler, a master composer for the violin, provided Steven’s last performance piece, Tambourin Chinois.
Tsitsos currently lives in Toronto and is working towards a career in chamber music and solo performance.

Tickets for the Tsitsos’ concert are $25 each, plus taxes, says Sharpe, or $100 a ticket package for all five events in the ever-popular series. Tickets for all of the performances can be purchased in advance at the Recreation Centre office from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. All of the shows are at the Letkemann.

On Nov. 16, it will be Everything Fitz, a family band featuring the high-energy fiddling and percussive step dancing of four of Canada’s finest young musicians. With roots in the Canadian old-time fiddle tradition, their unique stage show combines a variety of musical styles- everything from Celtic, bluegrass, western swing, to entertaining novelty tunes and choreographed step dance routines.

Julie, 19, Kerry, 18, and Tom, 15, are all champion fiddlers and provide intricate three-part fiddle harmonies as well as solo improvisations on fiddle and mandolin. Additional instrumentation includes Pat, 20, on percussion along with parents Pam and Paddy providing accompaniment on piano and bass guitar.

On Nov. 27, Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers will be in town for a performing arts show. The group says there goal is to “create a place on the local, national and international arts landscape that enables vital intersections, linkages and exchange among dance creators, dance interpreters, spectators and communities. Our values, programs, and activities are based on respect for our history, the ongoing development of our artists, and to our place in the community.”

For country music fans, the Drumheller, Alta. crooner Jaydee Bixby will be here Jan. 16.

At 17, with his hip-swaggering Elvis Presley-esque stage manner, he became the fifth season’s runner-up on Canadian Idol.

“As a singer, I started out around the campfire having a good time listening to my parents,” Bixby has said. “But it wasn’t until hearing Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog’ for the first time that I fell in love with music, particularly country. That led to performing at rodeos and eventually I thought, ‘Well, you only live once. You might as well try out for Canadian Idol.’ I never thought I’d make it as far as I did but I set out goals the whole way and I reached them. It was hard work but the outcome was great. Now I can see where I can take it.”

After Canadian Idol, he released his debut album, Cowboys and Cadillacs, with his parents performing back-up vocals.

The Manitoba Theatre Centre, based in Winnipeg, is scheduled to be in Thompson for a performance Feb. 28 to wrap up the City of Thompson’s Concert Series for 2009-10 during their 2010 regional tour of Robert Chafe’s 2002 play Tempting Providence, originally commissioned to be a “portable” play to be performed in Newfoundland and Labrador’s senior citizen homes and schools, written as a series of episodes that chronicle the early years of Myra Bennett’s life in Daniel’s Harbour, Nfld. MTC’s regional tour of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario runs from Jan. 30 to March 3.

Next winter will mark the 32nd consecutive year the MTC has gone on regional tour. Last year, MTC brought to Thompson Theresa Rebeck’s one-character play, Bad Dates, starring actress Precious Chong, daughter of Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, as Haley Walker in a monologue by a Texas woman transplanted to New York City. MTC also took the play to Churchill, making their first stop there in 17 years, as well as Atikokan, Sioux Lookout and Dryden in Northwestern Ontario.

The Borderlanders touring quartet – made up of Canadian singer-songwriters Sylvia Tyson and Ron Hynes and their American counterparts Gretchen Peters and Graham Isaacson – wrapped up the City of Thompson Concert Series for 2008-2009 last January. That series kicked of Oct. 30, 2008 with country music star Shane Yellowbird, followed on Nov. 12 with an evening classical music program offered by pianist David Moroz and saxophonist Allen Harrington.

MTC brought Rope’s End, Doug Bowie's bittersweet 2006 comedy came to Thompson Jan. 29, 2008 as part of its annual regional tour in January 2008, wrapping up a four-concert series for 2007-2008, which also included the Winnipeg Mennonite Children’s Choir in September 2007; Tanglefoot in November 2007; and Sophie Bouffard and David McIntyre Jan. 8, 2008.

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