Classical Context

2017-2018 season

Rashaan Allwood

 Rashaan will be hosting and performing the piano music of Messiaen in October in a concert titled "Bird Song"

Rashaan will be hosting and performing the piano music of Messiaen in October in a concert titled "Bird Song"

Rashaan Allwood is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he studied piano performance with Professor James Parker and organ with Professor Kevin Komisaruk. He is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Organ and Church Music at McGill University and studying with Professor Hans-Ola Ericsson. He is a keyboard player of great versatility. As a pianist, organist, and harpsichordist, he has played in a variety of settings, including performances with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and the University of Toronto’s Collegium Musicum. Rashaan was the first prize winner of the Concours d'orgue de Québec in 2017 and of the Canadian National OSM Manulife competition in 2016 for the organ category. He also won second prize in the Wadden Sea International Organ Competition and the Lynnwood Farnam Organ Competition in 2017. Rashaan uses cohesive programming, lecture recitals, and multimedia performances to engage audiences. This has led to performances at venues such the Canadian Opera Company Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, the Maison Symphonique in Montreal, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, UK.

Michael Bridge

 Michael Bridge will be performing an exciting recital featuring music from his new solo album  in Classical Context's upcoming concert in May 2018.

Michael Bridge will be performing an exciting recital featuring music from his new solo album  in Classical Context's upcoming concert in May 2018.

Concert-accordionist Michael Bridge is a captivating young musician, redefining the sound and image of his traditional instrument. Named one of CBC’s “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30”, he is internationally renowned for his dynamic stage- presence and unique musical versatility. His repertoire – classical masterworks, baroque, jazz, world music, folk dances, contemporary classical, and digital accordion compositions – smashes all stereotypes concerning the limitations of his instrument. He made his solo orchestral debut with the Boston Pops at 17, and has performed on four continents, now playing over 100 concerts per year.

Michael was given his first accordion at age five, purchased at a garage sale for $5. Now studying accordion performance at the University of Toronto with Joseph Macerollo, he has won numerous prizes including the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award, the U of T Concerto Competition, and the Calgary Stampede Talent Search. In 2013, he placed 2nd at the World Digital Accordion Championships. He has adjudicated accordion competitions and taught masterclasses across the USA and Canada.

Michael is a founding member of Double-Double Duo, having toured Ecuador, Poland, France and across Canada with his collaborator Dr. Kornel Wolak (clarinet). Their debut album launched in 2015, entitled ‘Rock Bach’. He performs in Ladom Ensemble, an acoustic Iranian-Serbian-classical-tango quartet.

An ardent supporter of new music, Michael has over thirty world premieres to his credit, including works by Anna Pigdorna, Airat Ichmouratov and Pouya Hamidi. As a composer, he wrote and recorded two folk albums and is the primary arranger for several of his chamber ensembles. He has gratefully received support for his academic work and touring from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, The Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, the Government of Alberta and the University of Toronto. 


Andrew James Clark

 Andrew James Clark will be accompanying Alice Hong on stage in February 2018 presenting the music of Ives and Bartok.

Andrew James Clark will be accompanying Alice Hong on stage in February 2018 presenting the music of Ives and Bartok.

Andrew James Clark is a multi-faceted Canadian composer currently residing in Toronto. While pursuing composition studies at the University of Toronto and serving as the composer in residence of the University of Toronto’s Wind Ensemble, he simultaneously serves as the Artistic Director of Classical Context, a concert series founded by students from the University providing a hybrid of new music and traditional repertoire to general audiences through lecture presentations. Andrew also holds the position of principal pianist at Heron Park Baptist Church. His piece The Valley of the Dry Bones was recently published by Counterpoint Library as part of their young composers series and he was also recently granted a conducting apprenticeship with Orchestra Toronto to be carried out during the months of March and April 2018. Recent awards include The University of Toronto’s 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award in recognition of Andrew’s efforts in sustaining a music therapy program for elderly homeless musicians located in the downtown core. He has also been awarded the Gabriella Dory Prize in Music and the William Erving Fairclough Scholarship for graduating with the highest standing in U of T’s Undergraduate Composition Program, while also being the chosen recipient of the CNEF Eamonn O’Loghlin scholarship merited by his writings concerning the negative impacts of consumerism on our artistic culture. Andrew is currently employed as a theory and harmony classroom teacher in Scarborough’s Musical World F.A. Group, and as a Piano teacher at Dixon Hall’s Music School.

alice hong

Alice Hong - Classical Context

Alice Hong holds a Masters degree in violin performance studying privately with Cho-Liang Lin at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music as a Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Scholar, and a Bachelor Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, along with a minor in composition. She is currently a student at University of Toronto under the tutelage of Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Crow, pursuing her Doctorate in Musical Arts as a Harold Carter Fellowship Recipient.

Growing up, Alice spent a year studying violin performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After returning to her hometown in Georgia, she appeared as a soloist with and was concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, also being a recipient of the ASYO Scholarship. She also was featured as a performer and composer of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Conversation of Note series with Robert Spano. She has since appeared as a soloist with orchestras across the southeast and has held concertmaster and principal positions for orchestras at Spoleto USA, Sarasota Music Festival, Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Brevard Music Center, and orchestral ensembles at the Banff Centre. She currently plays with ensembles local to Toronto, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, guest principal second for the Rose Orchestra, and has appeared as a soloist with the University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble. Alice has also appeared in masterclasses and worked with acclaimed professors such as Pamela Frank, Donald Weilerstein, Viktor Danchenko, Noah Bendix-Balgley, and Soovin Kim, amongst others. She is a first-prize winner of the International IMKA Music Competition and has earned recognition in the Lennox, Mika Hasler, and Hellam string competitions, and her recorded and live performances have been featured on WABE 90.1 Atlanta and WSMR 89.9 Tampa.

As an avid chamber musician, Alice has performed alongside esteemed musicians such as Frans Helmerson and Mihaela Martin, James Ehnes, Jonathan Crow, Andres Diaz, Barry Shiffman, Miguel de la Silva and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She participated in several semesters of CIM's Intensive Quartet Seminar,  and her chamber groups have also worked with and played in masterclasses for Shmuel Ashkenasi, Juilliard Quartet, Chiara Quartet, Dover Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, Cavani Quartet, and St. Lawrence String Quartet among many others. She also toured as the first violinist of the first quartet to embark on Heifetz Institute's "Heifetz on Tour" series. Some of her summers have been spent at festivals such as Kneisel Hall, Sarasota Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Banff Centre Masterclasses for Strings and Winds, Heifetz Institute of Music, St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Foulger Institute of Music, International Music Academy of Plzen, Brevard Music Center, and Sewanee Summer Music Festival.

Alice is also an international award-winning composer. Her first symphony, Mystic Trilogy, was premiered at age 11 and has since had compositions performed in Hungary, China, Czech Republic, Canada, across America, and featured as film scores for Studio 3D productions. Her pieces have won multiple awards from the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, first prize and audience prize at the 2nd International Keuris Composition Competition for her full orchestra piece Phoenix, first prize at Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition, and first prize of Cleveland Institute of Music’s inaugural Carl E. Baldessere Competition for composer-virtuosi. She is currently published by Edition MatchingArts and have had her pieces programmed in venues such as the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Spoleto Festival USA, the Primrose International Viola Competitions recitals, ASO Conversation of Note series, and the Northern California Viola Society as the commissioned work for their Young Violists Competition. Among some of the performers of her pieces include members of the New York Philharmonic and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, members of the Cypress String Quartet and Rolston String Quartet, Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, the Amersfoort Youth Orchestra, CIM Symphony Orchestra, and students at Rice University, Peabody Conservatory and Cleveland Institute of Music. She, herself, has been given the opportunity to perform her pieces at the Kennedy Center and as part of Spoleto Festival USA, and frequently participates in new music ensembles and premieres.

Alice is an activist in bringing awareness to the importance of music programs and community appreciation for classical music and musicians, specifically for the members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In her efforts, she organizes and hosts the annual ATL Symphony Appreciation Concerts since 2012, programming ensembles with Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra alumni in collaboration with Atlanta Symphony members to celebrate the great contributions of the symphony to the community of Atlanta.