Vivaldi in Venice, Boccherini in Madrid, Durante in Naples, and two centuries later, Piazzolla in Buenos Aires: the thread of an extraordinary musical tradition runs through the music, as profoundly Italian as it is cosmopolitan, spanning the flamboyant accents of the Baroque to the suave cantilenas of the master of Argentinian tango. Les Violons du Roy and Nicolas Ellis invite you on a journey of pleasure and harmony in which the Canadian virtuoso Kerson Leong shines in his Lanaudière debut.
Founded by Bernard Labadie and currently under the musical direction of Jonathan Cohen, Les Violons du Roy is an ensemble of fifteen musicians devoted to the repertoire for chamber orchestra, with a special emphasis on music from the Baroque and Classical eras. They perform the latter repertoire using historical copies of period bows. In addition to their regular concert series in Quebec City and Montreal, their numerous North American tours have included regular stops in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The ensemble has performed in Asia and throughout much of Europe, in venues that include the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Berliner Philharmonie. Recordings by Les Violons du Roy have been awarded three Junos, one Félix Award and two GRAMMY nominations. Altogether, these recordings comprise thirty-six titles on the Dorian, ATMA, Virgin Classics, Naïve, Hyperion, Erato, Decca Gold, and Analekta labels.
Artistic Director, conductor and founder of the Orchestre de l’Agora, Nicolas Ellis also serves as Artistic Partner with the Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
He has appeared as a guest conductor with Les Violons du Roy, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Orchestre Métropolitain, Symphony Nova Scotia, McGill Chamber Orchestra, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Toronto. He has enjoyed the opportunity to perform with artists including Jean-Guihen Queyras, Anthony Roth Constanzo and Charles Richard-Hamelin.
Nicolas Ellis completed his master’s degree in conducting at McGill University under Alexis Hauser, also honing his art at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano. In the summer of 2019, he participated in the Verbier Festival Academy, where he served as Assistant Conductor to Valery Gergiev.
Ellis founded the Orchestre de l’Agora in 2013. The ensemble’s mission is to reinvent the role of classical musicians in society by empowering them to collectively strengthen their impact on the world through their talent and commitment. The orchestra has forged partnerships with Les Porteurs de musique and the Share the Warmth Foundation’s music program, giving lessons, concerts, and workshops for children from underprivileged communities and playing in venues that generally have poor access to music, such as psychiatric centres, prisons, women’s shelters, and seniors’ homes. The Orchestre de l’Agora’s concerts have been recorded and broadcast several times on ICI Musique and CBC Music, including its recent production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal. On April 22, 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora donated $138,000 to Earth Day Canada, the Sierra Club, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada through Gala de la Terre, a major fundraising event, with the aim of protecting the St. Lawrence River and Estuary. In February 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora was also the Orchestra-in-Residence for an intensive workshop on bel canto repertoire in collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
Nicolas Ellis is the recipient of the 2017 Fernand Lindsay Career Award and was designated Radio-Canada’s Classical Breakthrough Artist (“Révélation classique”) for 2018–2019. He is also laureate of the 2015 Heinz Unger Award conferred by the Ontario Arts Council.
Kerson Leong first took the music world by storm in 2010 by winning the coveted Junior First Prize at the prestigious Menuhin Competition. Ever since, the young Canadian violinist has astonished and won over both fellow musicians and audiences alike the world over with his rare and innovative mastery of his instrument, his natural ability to convey the subtlest of emotions, and the colossal scope of his live performances. Having been called “Canada’s next great violinist” (Ludwig van Toronto), he has distinguished himself with his unique approach as one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation.
Kerson has played in some of the most prestigious concert venues around the world from Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and the Auditorium du Louvre to Wigmore Hall and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. In the 2020/2021 season, Kerson will perform with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Royale de Chamber de Wallonie in Belgium, Orchestre Symphonique de Sherbrooke, the Toledo Symphony, and new compositions by Samy Moussa under his direction with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In the 2018/2019 season, Kerson was named Artist-in-Residence with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal under Yannick Nezet-Seguin.