Thompson-born violinist Steven Tsitsos returned home Sept. 26 to offer a classical concert treat to his hometown fans in kicking off the City of Thompson's Concert Series for 2009-10 at R.D. Parker Collegiate's Letkemann Theatre.
Classical guitarist Alvin Tung, who completed his bachelor and master degrees in music at the University of Toronto, accompanied Tsitsos.
Without words, Tsitsos and Tung let their music speak eloquently as the auditorium had more than 200 guests in attendance for the Saturday evening performance.
At the age of 26, Tung was the youngest doctoral guitar recipient from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. He won the silver medal at the prestigious Tokyo International Guitar Competition, becoming the first Canadian in the 35-year history of the competition to ever win a prize. He teaches guitar and chamber at the University of Toronto.
Tsitsos is one of Canada's fastest-rising classical musicians and his story is well known locally. He started both piano and violin at the relatively late age of 10. Upon his insistence, his parents agreed to make the 1,500-kolometre 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 nine consecutive silver medals.
In 2003, Tsitsos opened for violinist Jasper Wood during his Prairie debut tour and has appeared on the CBC Radio program "Definitely Not The Opera (DNTO)."
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, now 20, 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 that night two years ago 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.
On Saturday night this year, Tsitsos and Tung's repertoire included Argentinean Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango, which tells the history of tango in four chunks of music -- Bordel 1900, Café 1930, Nightclub 1960 and Concert d'aujourd'hui - styled at 30-year intervals.
Some of Piazzolla's same work from Histoire du Tango was performed here last fall in the same venue by
the duo of Winnipeg-born pianist David Moroz, a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, and classical saxophonist Allen Harrington, the youngest professor in the Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, when they offered their program last Nov. 12 in the second of the City of Thompson Concert Series for 2008-2009.