The SPOGreatMusic Performance Series: S41E09

Release Date: February 12, 2021

On this ninth episode of our SPOGreatMusic Performance Series (Season 41, 2020/2021), we’re pleased to present the following videos:


Félix Mendelssohn’s “Variations sérieuses”, Op. 54

The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra is thrilled to include this fine performance by young and talented local pianist, Vanessa Yu. Vanessa is also a New Generation Artist.

“Variations sérieuses”, Op. 54, is a composition for solo piano consisting of a theme in D minor and 17 variations. It was completed on June 4, 1841. A typical performance lasts about eleven minutes.The work was written as part of a campaign to raise funds for the erection of a large bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in his home town of Bonn. The publisher, Pietro Mechetti, asked Mendelssohn to contribute to a ‘Beethoven Album’, published in January 1842, which also included pieces by Liszt, Chopin, Moscheles, and others, of which the proceeds would go to the Monument. (Schumann’s “Fantasie in C” was the final result of a work originally intended for the same purpose). Mendelssohn is known to have written three sets of piano variations, but only this one was published during his lifetime. Many of the variations require a virtuoso technique. [Source: Wikipedia]


“Ningyo” – Animated Short Film

Jason Cao, filmmaker and animator; Brandon Walker, 2021 music composer. This animated short film follows a girl on the journey of discovery and revelation. Created by a graduate of the Sheridan College Animation program and featuring newly composed music. For more information on the Sheridan College Animation program, visit


茉莉花 Jasmine Flowers

Folk song from Jiangsu Province; Arranged and conducted by Eugene He; Yiping Chao, Lead Soprano.

Since 2017, the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra Women’s Choir, under the leadership of Yiping Chao, has delighted audiences throughout Ontario. Yiping also often plays cello with the SPO, and has a very talented family. Her son, Kevin Zi-Xiao He, has been part of our New Generation Composer Workshop activities, and is a talented and evolving composer, musician, and performer. We appreciate the support of Yiping, her family, and her community of fans and supporters in bringing great music and cultural opportunities together in our amazing community of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

For this performance, the SPO Women’s Choir is accompanied by the Odin Quartet, featuring Alex Toskov (violin I), Tanya Charles (violin II), Laurence Schaufele (viola), and Samuel Bisson (cello). Joining the ensemble also are Gillian Howard (oboe) and Lucy Lu (piano).

The SPO is proud to offer this video in celebration of Chinese New Year. It year 4719 on the Chinese calendar, and 2021 here in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.


绒花 Velvet Flowers

Liu Guofu and Tian Nong, composers; Wang Ming, lyrics; Arranged by Eugene He; Yiping Chao, Lead Soprano. For this performance, Yiping performs solo with the Odin Quartet, featuring Alex Toskov (violin I), Tanya Charles (violin II), Laurence Schaufele (viola), and Samuel Bisson (cello). Joining the ensemble also are Gillian Howard (oboe) and Lucy Lu (piano).

This song was featured in the 1979 film, “Xiao hua”, which translates as Little Flower. Learn more here.


紫藤花 Wisteria Flowers

Wang Quan and Han Wei, composers; Wang Ming, Shi Guangnan; Arranged by Erhei Liang; Yiping Chao, Soprano; Daniel Robinson, Baritone. For this performance, Yiping performs with baritone, Daniel Robinson, and the Odin Quartet, featuring Alex Toskov (violin I), Tanya Charles (violin II), Laurence Schaufele (viola), and Samuel Bisson (cello). Joining the ensemble also are Gillian Howard (oboe) and Lucy Lu (piano).


Ontario Sketches: Reflection on the Huron Carol – Scrolling Score

Arranged by Bruno Degazio. The third movement, “Reflection on the Huron Carol” tells the musical story of the first meeting of the Ojibway Indians with Europeans in 1634. It presents the creation of the beautiful Christmas song, now known as “The Huron Carol”, as a process of mutual engagement between the foreign explorers and the native Canadians of the Great Lakes.

On a cold mid-winter night, fragments of a lonely melody are heard. Interjections from the Ojibway warriors and the tribe’s shaman interrupt the melody . The visitors respond with a folksong-like counter-theme; and after some creative dialogue between the two parties the full melody of the newly created Christmas Carol (the first such music written in the New World) is played by both the European and Native Canadian musicians. The traditional Ojibway musical material, specifically, “A War Song” and “A Dream Song”, has been adapted from the collection in the classic study by Frances Densmore, Chippewa Music (Smithsonian Museum, Washington, 1910).

“Reflection on the Huron Carol” was written for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017. It is part of “Ontario Sketches”, a set of pieces for orchestra written on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation.


‘Les Baisers Perdus’ by MIKA

Featuring Joey Niceforo and the Odin Quartet. Performers: Joey Niceforo, vocals; Raffi Altounian, guitar; Mor Shargall-Bisson, flute; Alex Toskov, violin; Tanya Charles Iveniuk, violin; Veronica Lee, viola; Samuel Bisson, cello

LES BAISERS PERDUS by MIKA | from “No Place In Heaven” (2015) | Written by Mika & Doriand | Original arrangement by Simon Leclerc & Lucio Fabbri | Transcription by Samuel Bisson | Audio & Video Editing by Samuel Bisson.


Performer and Composer Bios


VANESSA YU: Vanessa began playing the piano at the age of six and has received awards at various competitions since then. She recently won a first prize certificate at the 2020 Piano League Piano Star International Competition and placed second at the 2019 Canadian Music Competition Nationals. Other accolades include top prizes at the ORMTA Young Artist Competition, Unionville Music Competition, North York Music Festival, and OMFA Provincials, among others. Vanessa was also the recipient of the Most Promising Pianist scholarship award at the 2020 Toronto Kiwanis Festival. Vanessa is also an SPO New Generation Artist.

Vanessa enjoys connecting with others through music and has performed in numerous galas and concerts. Recent performances included a solo program for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s season opening and a concerto debut with the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra. She is currently a full scholarship first-year student at the University of Toronto in the studio of Dr. Enrico Elisi. Additionally, Vanessa has studied with Dr. Michael Berkovsky and Victoria Gimelshtein. She holds an Associate Diploma in Performance (ARCT) from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Aside from music, Vanessa is a freelance calligrapher and active community volunteer with a love for plants and cozy lattes. Check out her website.


BRANDON WALKER: Brandon is an award-winning, creative, and versatile composer, multi-instrumentalist, recording producer, engineer, and supervising sound editor with over 40 years of experience in classical, jazz, and popular genres as well and film and television soundtracks. Brandon is an Associate Composer Member of the Canadian Music Centre, member of the Canadian League of Composers, Screen Composers Guild of Canada, American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers, and a writer/publisher with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

Currently, Brandon is writing and recording for two of his own projects, entitled “Symphonic Sounds” and “Fats Squared: the Music of Fats Waller and Fats Domino.” Other projects in progress include the publication of chamber works and the production of original music demos with StaffPad music software.

Brandon is a 2020 Niagara Music Award winner for “Best Producer of the Year”, recognizing work with Niagara Music Jazz Artist Award winner, The Jimmy Stahl Big Band. His compositions have won multiple awards in 2019 & 2020, including contests with The Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, Reno Pops Orchestra, as well as The Professional Composers Forum. In July 2020, Brandon was a featured artist on the CAMÕES TV program, “Stella’s Studio”.

Other career highlights include eight Golden Reel Award Nominations as well as the winner of a Gemini and two Directors Guild of Canada Awards. As a writer and a publisher with ASCAP, his compositions have been heard on National Public Radio, KUSC, JazzFM, and many other radio stations across North America as well as on television.

Learn more about this talented Canadian composer by visiting his website, or his LinkTree site.


ODIN QUARTET : Born in early 2015 on the Philosopher’s Walk in downtown Toronto, the Odin Quartet unites four musicians who represent the diversity that Canada takes pride in. Violinist, Alex Toskov, is originally from Belgrade, Serbia. Tanya Charles Iveniuk, also a violinist, grew up in Hamilton, Ontario with roots in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Veronica Lee, born in South Korea, is a violist from LaSalle, Ontario. French-Canadian cellist and composer, Samuel Bisson, hails from Ottawa, Ontario. In June 2015, the Odin Quartet was selected to be one of the few ensembles to participate in the Luminato Festival’s epic production of R Murray Schafer’s, Apocalypsis. Through this, the Quartet had the opportunity not only of being mentored by the award-winning Afiara and Cecilia Quartets, but were also invited to collaborate with them on outreach and performances shortly thereafter. Since then, the Odin Quartet has been frequent performers of the Ottawa Valley Music Festival, Barrie Concert Series, Guelph Connections, Music in the Atrium, Music at Mount Pleasant, and Music Niagara. The Quartet, which takes its name from the one-eyed Norse deity, aims to promote modern Canadian compositions in addition to collaborating with other musicians and artists of other disciplines.

The Odin Quartet has served as the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s Ensemble- in-Residence since September 2017. In 2018, the ensemble premiered a new piece by Samuel Bisson, entitled EPITAPH foratonality, which featured the Quartet as soloists with the Scarborough Philharmonic, conducted by Ronald Royer. Collaborations have included artists such as Atis Bankas (violin), Victoria Kogan (piano), Raffi Altounian (guitar), Carmen Romero (flamenco dancer), Christopher Kelk (actor, storyteller), the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Spectrum Music. In 2019, the ensemble celebrated the inaugural concert of its Drying Ink series, performances dedicated to the premiere of new, Canadian works written for the Quartet. Currently, they look forward to incoming compositions from their Lockdown Lullabies call for scores. This project, initiated in May of 2020, aims to inspire composers, worldwide, to continue to create and stay in positive spirits during the challenging times related to the COVID-19 health crisis. Learn more about the Odin Quartet on their website .


Click here to return to our 2020/2021 SPOGreatMusic Performance Series listings.

Click here to go to our 2020/2021 SPOGreatMusic Podcast Series listings.