Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor Street West

All concerts 8:00 pm
(7:15 Pre-Concert Chats)
Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory

Press Quotes

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“[Pauk] has created in the Esprit Orchestra one of the finest contemporary music ensembles in the world.”
- Heidi Mackenzie, Point of View Magazine, Spring 2008

“My rule of thumb is always if instantly I want to hear it again, then it’s music that really struck me and I feel that way about both pieces [Frehner’s Sanctuary and Current’s Kazabazua]. I would give anything to have them play it again.”
- Ellen Nichols quoted in, October 26, 2006

“Enter the Esprit Orchestra of Toronto. Under Alex Pauk’s baton, this award-winning orchestra searches out contemporary Canadian works and presents them to a growing audience of adventurous listeners.”
- Peterborough Examiner, October 27, 2005

“A full orchestra winding itself up and racing through the curves, with a mad shifting profusion of detail in the scoring, was a miraculous apparition.”
- Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail, March 25, 2006

“Esprit, as befits the name, is always optimistic about taking on challenges.”
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star, March 8, 2005

“The vocal efforts were convincing and the orchestra’s alertness to shape, mood and complex rhythmic structures chillingly effective. It was in clear support of the need for a full production of [The Scarlet Princess].
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star, March 8, 2005

“Hopefully, Esprit’s searching modernism will continue in such a powerful vein.”
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star, March 8, 2005

“Such artistic bravery on the part of Esprit deserved a reward.”
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star November 30, 2004

“Esprit’s 55 players grappled very well with the challenges of this program, under the baton of Alex Pauk. The success of the show may be gauged by the fact that the orchestra that played the final notes seemed a different entity from the one that began the concert, as if all this mulling over character and identity had altered the band’s DNA, or at least analyzed it in a new way.”
- Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail, May 28, 2005

“When it was finished, I would have been happy to hear it all over again. It made for an outstanding conclusion to a well-curated program, convincingly played by Esprit Orchestra with conductors Alex Pauk and Robert Aitken.”
- Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail, December 3, 2005

“The Esprit Orchestra performed with panache all evening, rendering the difficulties in all these scores with seeming ease. And conductor Alex Pauk kept his forces disciplined, on the beat and together. After 20 years, Pauk and Esprit have the satisfaction of knowing that their pioneering efforts on behalf of contemporary music are beginning to pay off.”
- Robert Harris, Globe and Mail, February 25, 2003

“I look forward to hearing all of these pieces again, especially if as superbly performed as they were by Esprit Orchestra.”
- John Lehr, Toronto Star, February 25, 2003

“Soloist Marie Bedard handled her difficult part, so much of which lies in the violin’s highest register, with great sensitivity and firm control, and Alex Pauk pulled out a similarly attuned performance from the accompanying Esprit Orchestra”
- Robert Harris, Globe and Mail, April 1, 2003

“Esprit clearly aspires to be a business for the long term. With a conductor who may literally be a visionary, the orchestra surely has a chance.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, April 22, 2003

"It's time to put aside ancient prejudices about 'new' music and taste the delicious range of musical art being produced today. And there's no better place to do so than with the Esprit Orchestra, Canada's only orchestra devoted to contemporary and new music. xpand your horizons. You won't regret it."
- Robert Harris, Globe and Mail

“[Letters from Mignon] had a performance by mezzo-soprano Eleanor James and the orchestra under Alex Pauk, that left us wondering why it is not in the repertoire of every major orchestra in the country. While Ms. James is around to sing it, I cannot imagine a symphony audience that would not fall immediately under its spell.”
- Ken Winters, Globe and Mail, October 9, 2002

“Throughout the program, the Esprit Orchestra justified Alex Pauk’s characterization of his players as devoted servants of contemporary music....these Toronto freelancers have joined their conductor in taking on the championship of a repertoire all too often neglected by our major civic orchestras.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, October 8, 2002

“Esprit Orchestra raises the profile of modern orchestral music”
- Rachelle Younglai, The Liberty Gleaner, April 2001

“Alex Pauk has fought the good fight for unfashionable contemporary music with his Esprit Orchestra for 17 seasons, a tough task when many Canadian eyes glaze over at the mere thought of anything newer than Shostakovich and Schoenberg.”
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star, March 26, 2000

“Esprit is not most orchestras. It has championed every form of Canadian orchestral music for the past 17 years.”
- Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail, June 2, 2000

“[Esprit Orchestra] has been cultivating an audience and educating young people to provide for the future: inspiring, educating, and passing on the dream.”
- John Lehr, Toronto Star, November 15, 1998

“The orchestra contains some of Toronto’s finest freelance musicians, it plays with a sense of discipline, and long experience with difficult contemporary scores precluded its being daunted by the music’s technical challenges.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, October 21, 1998

“To hear the Esprit Orchestra play it, contemporary classical music has never sounded better.”
- Bob Clark, Calgary Herald, June 13, 1998

“The only orchestra that’s dedicated to our music is the Esprit Orchestra, and that’s why I asked Esprit’s conductor, Alex Pauk, to be my music director for Princess of the Stars.”
- Murray Schafer quoted in Globe and Mail (by Colin Eatock), September 6, 1997

“There isn’t another orchestra with a concert-by-concert record approaching that of Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra in the propagation of Canadian music.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, March 31, 1996

“Alex Pauk, Esprit’s founder, music director and tireless guiding spirit, conducts straightforward performances of all four scores.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, November 18, 1995

“Soloist Adele Armin, performing on a RAAD electric violin, took centre stage and held it more through the conviction of her playing than through anything specific she was given to say. The compliment extends to the orchestra, whose skilled dedication to the extraordinary demands of contemporary repertoire was in evidence throughout the concert.”
- Elissa Poole, Globe and Mail, October 24, 1995

“[Rivka Golani’s] individuality commanded respect. As did Esprit Orchestra and conductor Alex Pauk, who throughout the concert managed potential balance problems brilliantly, and threw some inspired playing into the bargain.”
- Tamara Bernstein, Globe and Mail, February 6, 1995

“The Esprit Orchestra is a listener-friendly ensemble. It bends over backward to make the 20th century music in which it specializes accessible, offering a coffee chat with composers or musicians before each Toronto concert.”
- The Financial Post, March 20, 1992

“A typically well-planned Esprit contemporary music lesson? Yes.”
- William Littler, Toronto Star, December 2, 1991

“The orchestra’s spirited playing and sure-handed guidance by Alex Pauk shine.”
- De Jong, American Record Guide, January/February 1992

“I’ve only twice felt that a conductor was on my side, one was Alex Pauk...”
- Murray Schafer, quoted in Globe and Mail (by Robert Everett-Green), February 16, 1991