In the United States African Americans make up 1.8 percent of classical orchestra musicians nationwide, while Hispanics make up 2.5 percent. Women make up 14.6 percent of U.S orchestra conductors. The pioneering Ontario Pops Orchestra, one of the most diverse professional orchestras in Canada, highlights the work of women, indigenous and colored composers, and instrumentalists. Featuring works by Holst, Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi conducted by Music Director Carlos Bastidas, the OPO is soon releasing its debut album: Breaking Barriers with impressive results.
Three Black women are the soloists: violinist Tanya Charles Iveniuk, violinist Yanet Campbell Secades, and bassoonist Marlene Ngalissamy. The two CD recording includes concertos by Bach and Vivaldi alongside Gustav Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550.
All three of the featured soloists are sterling musicians. Cuban-born Yanet Campbell Secades and Tanya Charles Iveniuk both display impressive command of their instruments as the violin soloists in Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter from The Seasons, in the Violin Concerto in A minor, No. 1, BWV 1041 by Johann Sebastian Bach, and in the Violin Sonata No. 3, BWV 1005 by J.S. Bach. Antonio Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV 484 is elegantly played by Marlene Ngalissamy. All three of the featured soloists are sterling musicians. All three have found fertile musical ground in Canada, forging careers are orchestra members, soloists, chamber musicians and educators.
Credit must be shared by OPO Music Director Carlos Bastidas, who has consistently championed the work of musicians from minorities, since the orchestra’s founding in 2014. Beyond the impeccable musicianship and care given the music by the Colombian-born conductor, his commitment to provide opportunities to deserving minority musicians serves as an example we could learn to follow on this side of the border.
Rafael de Acha © 2023