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Jonathan Hulting-Cohen

Audience as a Critic - 2019-2020


Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, sax
Nadine Shank, piano

 – Programme –
Jacques Ibert
Concertina da camera
J. Ring / F. W. Hager
Danse Hongroise
Francis Poulenc
Sonata for oboe and piano
Baljinder Singh Sekhon II
Paquito D’Rivera
Invitación al Danzón
John Harbison
San Antonio Sonata
Jackson Berkey
Homage to Emily Dickinson
Astor Piazzolla
Three Tangos

 – Encore –
Reprise of Danse Hongroise

 – Young Artist Program –
Ray Guerard, piano

Karol Szymanowski
4 Études, Op. 4 – Andante




I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the concert from the performance by Young Artist Ray Guerard to the encore of Danse Hongroise.  I am always interested in hearing music by living composers and also music that I haven’t heard before, so that was a real treat.  Jonathan Hulting-Cohen is a marvellous performer with a personality to match.  Nadine Shank’s notes were very informative & her playing is superb.  I left the concert feeling uplifted. Thank you for this wonderful series which I have been attending with my sister since day one, year one.  We really have nothing else like the Virtuosi concert series in Winnipeg the closest being the Chamber Music Society concerts with Gwen, David & associates. (KW)

The artistic virtuosity of both performers was outstanding.  I particularly enjoyed their explanations of the pieces, and in particular, Nadine’s most descriptive phrases gave us an idea of what to expect in the Poulenc work. As the work expressed very contrasting moods and dynamics, her description gave us the feeling the work would virtually cover every possible nuance. And it did!  The Ibert work left the audience breathless with the tremendous bravura and party rhythms.  Both performers are totally in sync with one another – a true partnership.  The Hungarian Dance featured the usual change of tempi and accelerandos followed by contrasting slower parts.  The D’Rivera was delightful!  Lovely to hear both soprano and alto saxophone tonight. (At intermission I wondered if maybe tenor or baritone would appear?!!) PLEASE invite Jonathan and Nadine back again!  Bravo Nadine on all those turning pages!!! Gradient – I doubt Cristofori or Adolphe Saxe ever envisioned the “snaps” (à la pizzicato) on saxophone and prepared piano effects at various ranges. Even glissandi with CD case! Ternary form par excellence!  Homage to Emily Dickinson – How lovely and musical this was and very soothing.  San Antonio Sonata – Thank you Nadine for your background on your Dad’s contribution to the Big Band Era.  It was very obvious that Jonathan and Nadine were dancing with their bodies on their instruments.  Tangos – Totally different dances, the 2nd slower one surprised me. Piazzolla has contributed so much to the world of tangos.  Once again, thank you Jonathan for your introductions. Encore!  Again, a wonderful interpretation of a great Hungarian Dance. Congratulations on a THOROUGHLY fascinating evening of splendid music. Please come back! (MJM)

Amazing duo – They complement each other with such intuition – obviously very much in tune with each other.  The saxophone sounds as though it is speaking to you. (Anonymous)

Ibert – Athletics for fingers and lungs – exciting and virtuosic.  The Danse Hongroise was reminiscent of Brahms and his violinist touring the dance halls.  Great contrasts of tempo and dynamics – it showed the musicians’ fine technique and musicianship well – Very enjoyable.  Poulenc – Wonderful melodically and sensitive. Fascinating and strange, but great fun and quite a shock to change the sound of the piano and give a different approach to the music. Berkey – warm cantabile and beautiful lyrical quality. Piazzolla – Wonderful rhythmically and melodically. Great concert. (VH)

Very enjoyable – the unique selections were a pleasant surprise.  Jonathan Hulting-Cohen’s enthusiasm for the saxophone was evident, and Nadine Shank’s attentive accompaniment was a fine match for his playing.  Thank you!  A very pleasurable evening. (Anonymous)

A really fine concert! Hearing a classical saxophonist combines some familiar elements of repertoire with strange and pleasant new sounds.  This seems to keep the audience very interested.  Kudos for the pianist who was very busy at the keyboard! In all, many magical moments. (ME)

Very impressed with Young Artist Ray Guerard.  Excellent pianist and saxophone player.  Mr. Jonathan Hulting-Cohen’s opening remarks set a good tone.  Novelty – Gradient. Favourite – Berkey and Homage to Emily Dickinson. (MPL)

Good concert. Nice to step outside the box. Appreciate the guided tour. (Anonymous)

The sax was a sax but the pianist was something else. (Though she could have used a page turner.) (MT)

Two students from Professor Strub’s course, “Psychology and the Arts”:

  1. The unexpected classical music world that the Virtuosi Experience brought was eye-opening. Young Artist Ray Guerard’s performance was a unique and splendid display of young talent. With the crowd full of the older generation, his amazing performance held against the opinion that classical music is dying – it was mature but remained fresh and easily tolerable for younger ears. However, the main event, a solo saxophonist, was weirdly impressive. The enjoyment of the performers blended together between the piano and the saxophone. The music whisked people away from reality – from the lovely upbeat sounds, to soft and moving melodies that brought out deep emotions. The Virtuosi Experience brought classical music closer to the ears, touched down deeper, and stayed near the heart. The classical music scene is somewhat overpowered by popular music for the younger generation. But this surprisingly talented pool of classical musicians tonight signals a hope for classical music to thrive for a long time.
  2. The Virtuosi Concert was a different experience for me, as I do not typically listen to classical music or go to formal musical events. I enjoyed the experience and music more than I expected and it was a reasonable amount of time for the experience itself. I have gone to formal sit-down art performances in the past, but mostly for plays. It was a very different experience as it was an auditory art experience, without any visual aspects, besides watching the musicians themselves. I enjoyed being able to relax in my seat and not have to look around at anything, but rather focus on the sounds around me. It took a little bit of time to calibrate myself and my senses into focusing and keeping my focus on sound alone. It was different musical patterns as well listening to a regular song. The music is actually very similar to another form of art, storytelling. I found that each piece of music followed a story, with similar features such as the introduction, rising of action, hitting a peak of climax, and a resolution. It was very interesting following the auditory story and imagining the story the composer was trying to convey.
    Another interesting part of the concert was noticing the setting itself and the unspoken rules of the event. It felt very formal, where guests to this event had expectations for their behaviour. Everyone was expected to sit still throughout the event and remain quiet. There were unspoken rules of when to applaud the performance and when not to. Personally, it was strange to not move around listening to music, as I’m used to dancing to music or having it in the background during eating or drinking socially. It seemed a high expectation – but understandable – to show respect and to enjoy the experience. It was something I had to get used to, and once done, the quietness was peaceful, and the experience enjoyable.