St. Albert cellist performs newly commissioned composition


Alberta Baroque Ensemble’s new commission has a remarkable pedigree, and by all accounts it is primed to draw a broad audience.

Last year, music director Paul Schieman commissioned Allan Gilliland, chair of MacEwan University’s music program, to compose a new cello work to coincide with the ensemble’s 35th anniversary.

Although a year late for its remarkable world premiere, the much-anticipated Concerto for Cello, Strings and Harpsichord is Virtuoso String’s showcase concert piece on Jan. 31 at Robertson Wesley United Church.

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra violinist Robert Uchida and cellist Ronda Metszies, two musicians who embrace passion and integrity, were tapped to carry the 10-minute work’s distinctive voices.

When offered a cello solo, Metszies was flattered and fascinated with the idea of playing music not yet written. At first, the ESO cellist had a few jitters about performing a score sight unseen.

“What if Allan hands me music I can’t get behind?” Metszies was mentally asking.

“I was trusting Allan would write something I could pour my heart into and he was trusting me with his baby – that I would take it and present it to the world with his vision. It was a big responsibility,” said the St. Albert resident.

Schieman had no such qualms about offering her the solo.

“She’s amazing. She’s so well trained and over the years she’s really developed her technique. Her personality always comes through. She can take a piece of music and make it strong and beautiful,” he said.

When Gilliland sent her the score in late August, she first worked through it at her parent’s Gull Lake cottage completely surrounded by nature.

“This is beautiful,” she thought putting her soul into the romantic piece.

“It’s beautifully written, very soulful and very playful. There is a lot I could grab and pull out of it. It’s also very accessible and fits in very well with what we do.”

Coffee rings on the score have replaced the jitters, a good sign the music has journeyed toward its completion.

“OK. I’m ready. Bring it on,” laughs Metszies.

Virtuoso Strings concert also features Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach’s Sinfonia in D Minor, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Concerto for Violin in B Flat Major, Georg Philip Telemann’s Suite Les Nations Anciennes et Modernes and Jean-Marie Leclair’s Concerto for Violin in A Minor.

For more information visit


Virtuoso Strings
Alberta Baroque Ensemble
Sunday, Jan. 31 at 3 p.m.
Robertson Wesley United Church
10209 123 St.
Tickets: $30 regular, $25 senior/students
Call 780-420-1757 or online at or at door


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.