Led by pianist/artistic director Catherine Wilson, Toronto’s Ensemble Vivant continues to receive international accolades and is a favorite wherever the group performs. Since its inception over thirty years ago, “Canada’s Chamber Music Treasure” (Toronto Star) has been a pioneer, championing exciting, innovative programming that ranges from classical to Latin jazz and tango. EV is known for its depth of artistry, passionate performances and engaging stage presence. Canadian music icon Rick Wilkins raves: “This is the highest-level chamber music-making. No matter the genre, there is magic in Ensemble Vivant’s music-making.”
For Ensemble Vivant’s latest TD Sunfest date, the group will be augmented by jazz greats Mike Murley (tenor & soprano sax), Kevin Turcotte (flugel horn/trumpet) and Barry Elmes (percussion) in an eclectic program that features selections by Astor Piazzolla, Leroy Anderson, Charlie Chaplin and more. The concert celebrates the release of a brand new CD-DVD (EV’s 13th recording) of the Tribute to Rick Wilkins performance captured last spring at Grace Church on the Hill in Toronto. Special guests for that occasion included Guido Basso (flugelhorn, trumpet), Mike Murley (sax) and Brian Barlow (drums & percussion). The DVD portion of this new release was directed and edited by London, Ontario-based Darryl Lahteenmaa.
Ensemble Vivant is dedicated to fostering a love of great music among our youth. Through the not-for-profit charity EUTERPE (named after the Greek Muse of Music), the musicians enrich the lives of children and others on multiple levels. Catherine Wilson’s research on “Music and Healing,” for which she received her Ph.D., supports Euterpe’s initiatives, which have also been endorsed by the scientific community. Thanks to EUTERPE’s support, EV + guests will be performing a special children’s concert on March 23rd at 1:00 PM at Woodland Heights Public School.
RICK WILKINS, C.M.
Hamilton-born Rick Wilkins, C.M. is one of Canada’s most accomplished saxophonists and a world-renowned arranger, composer, conductor and performer. Throughout his career, Rick has worked with a variety of music legends, including Oscar Peterson, Anne Murray, The Boss Brass, Burton Cummings, Wayne and Schuster, Peggy Lee, Celine Dion, Oliver Jones, Guido Basso, Julie Amato and Tommy Ambrose.
Rick enjoyed major success in the world of radio and television, creating music for programs on CBC TV and Radio, as well as on CTV. He was music director for a CBS television series and several specials starring The Jackson Five. Also, he conducted a portion of the opening ceremonies of the Calgary Olympics and served as music director for the gala opening of Toronto’s SkyDome (now Rogers Centre). In addition, Rick rescored the ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ theme and wrote the theme for CBC’s ‘The National’.
Less well known is that, for close to three decades, Rick Wilkins and Ensemble Vivant have enjoyed a rich musical collaboration and friendship. From the outset, Rick championed the group’s artistry, sensitive musicality and diverse range of styles & genres. Ensemble Vivant’s Tribute to Rick Wilkins gives a glimpse into the wealth of inspired repertoire that he’s written and, in earlier days, produced for them. Rick is an honorary board member of Euterpe: his advocacy for the charity has deep roots as he recalls how music inspired him in his youth and how it became his life.