Canadian Chamber Ensemble
Canadian Chamber Ensemble (Stratford Festival Ensemble 1974-6, Stratford Ensemble 1976-80). The ensemble, consisting of 16 principal musicians from the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (string, wind, and brass quintets and a percussionist), was founded by music director Raffi Armenian in 1974. It was associated 1974-6 with the Stratford Festival, during which time it won an Emmy Award for a televised version of Menotti's The Medium. It has continued to form the nucleus and chamber music arm of the Kitchener-Waterloo SO.
The ensemble began international touring in 1984 with trips to Spain, Central and South America. In 1986 the CCE toured Europe again, and also travelled toExpo 86 and the USA. In June 1989 the ensemble undertook its second South American tour, giving three weeks of concerts in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In April 1990 the CCE made its third European tour, including performances in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland; it was the first major Canadian ensemble to perform in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The CCE has released a number of recordings, including the Canadian Music Council's Grand Prix du Disque winner, Serenades, which was also nominated for a Juno Award, as was an earlier recording with Maureen Forrester. Six recordings have been produced since 1994, four for CBC: Ragtime, with mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell in R. Murray Schafer's Minnelieder; Claude Vivier's Pulau Dewata appears in the Wine, Women and Song collection; in 2002, Karina Gauvin's Chants d'Auvergne (folksongs of Joseph Canteloube, arranged by Armenian) was nominated for a Juno Award.
Susan Hoeppner's 1997 compilation of flute solos (available through Marquis Music) features Howard Hanson's Serenade. Peter Hatch's Gathered Evidence disc brings together the Penderecki String Quartet and harpsichordist Cynthia Hiebert.
In 1990-1 the Canadian Chamber Ensemble performed two concert series in Kitchener-Waterloo: the Chamber Series, six concerts of classical chamber music, and the Nine Decades Series, three performances of contemporary chamber music. The latter series was designed and conducted by Gary Kulesha, then Kitchener-Waterloo SO's composer-in-residence. Since 1994 the CCE's annual concert programs have gradually been reduced from six to four. In celebration of its 30th anniversary (2004), CCE presented four pairs of concerts in Waterloo and Guelph, surveying the chamber music of Franz Schubert.
CCE members toured Japan in June 1996, performing at the Takefu International Music Festival. Chosei Komatsu conducted a program that included Scott Irvine's Aubade for Trumpet and Chamber Ensemble and William McCauley's Five Miniatures for 10 Winds.
At a recent performance of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, which was CCE's sole presenter 1974-81, Raffi Armenian remarked, "Had it not been for KWCS, CCE would never have got off the ground."