Greg Burton, conductor
Celeste Jankowski, leader
Henry Purcell: Abdelazer Suite
Mary D. Watkins: Soul of Remembrance, from Five Movements in Color
The Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra proudly presents a collaborative, online-only concert experience from some of our province’s finest young musicians! First, hear them perform Henry Purcell’s bright, lively Abdelazer Suite – a blend of tunes and dances originally written to accompany a play by famed 17th-century writer Aphra Behn. You’ll be sure to recognize the Suite’s iconic Rondeau, an irresistible earworm that’s been heard on countless TV shows and films.
Plus, hear the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra’s first-ever performance of Soul of Remembrance, a beautiful, haunting masterpiece from American composer and jazz pianist Mary D. Watkins. Praised as an “enthralling and moving” work (American Record Guide), Soul of Remembrance was written as a statement about the African-American experience. “I saw my own people in their long march to fully express themselves as fully human,” Watkins has explained. “It’s bittersweet and nostalgic, a song of sorrow and a song of hope.”
About the Artists
Mary D. Watkins, composer
Mary D. Watkins is a prolific composer, arranger, producer, pianist, and recording artist. She has won critical praise and awards for her numerous symphonic works, film scores, songs, and pieces for classical and jazz instrumentalists. Soul of Remembrance is one of her most popular orchestral works. It has been recorded by the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Chicago (Albany Records 2009), and it has been performed recently by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Symphony. She has also composed three full-length operas on historical themes: Queen Clara (about Clara Barton, 2005); Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story (2009); and Emmet Till, the Opera (2019). She is currently working on a short opera for White Snake Projects, which is scheduled to premiere online in May 2021.
Watkins has a degree in classical composition from Howard University, and she has composed both classical and jazz music, often fusing the styles and incorporating other forms of American music including gospel, spiritual, and pop genres. She won a Female Composer grant from Opera America in 2020, and she has previously won composer fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gerbode Foundation, Meet the Composer Foundation, California Arts Council and the City of Oakland. To learn more and watch video excerpts of her work, please visit www.marydwatkins.com.
Greg Burton, Artistic Advisor, Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra
Greg Burton continues to manage a varied career in music that includes conducting, performing, and teaching. He is currently on the faculty of Mount Allison University, teaching courses in the music department and conducting the Mount Allison University Orchestra. Greg performs regularly as a trombonist with Symphony New Brunswick. He was privileged to have been Music Director of the York Symphony Orchestra, The Halton-Mississauga Youth Orchestra, and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. Greg enjoys working with university-aged musicians, and has held positions at a number of universities, including Acadia University, The University of Toronto, McMaster University, and Arizona State University.
Celeste Jankowski, leader
Celeste Jankowski does not remember a moment in her life without classical music. Her earliest memory is nap time at age three. She would be placed in a big comfortable chair next to the grand piano and would fall asleep listening to her mother practise Chopin’s Etudes. These etudes still remind her of her early childhood and hold a special place in her heart. Her mother, a classical pianist and a passionate lover of music, had a great influence on all of her children’s musical education. All four children are accomplished string players.
At age five, Celeste begged her mother for violin lessons after hearing her older sister play. The following year, Celeste (and her mother and older sister) traveled to Tokyo, Japan to study for three months with the renowned pedagogue, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. Soon after her trip to Japan, she was accepted into the Washington D.C. Youth Orchestra Program, where her love of playing orchestral music took hold, and the rest is history!
Celeste holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and is currently a member of the First Violin section of Symphony Nova Scotia. She has also performed for many years as a member of two early music ensembles: La Réjouissance and Tempest Baroque Ensemble.
Celeste’s greatest joy in her musical life is teaching young people. She is the First Violin coach for the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra and the conductor of the Chamber Orchestra at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. She loves to share her passion for music with others.
"The spirit of the traditional spiritual imbues this piece with a haunting power, reminding us of the beauty of being fully human, especially in the midst of exile, enslavement, and sorrow."– Medium