Thursday, December 12, 2013

Great Ideas for Orchestras: chamber music concerts

Last night, I played a recital with the violist David Rose on the chamber series that has been launched by our chamber orchestra, group of twenty-seven.  I would love to have all of my friends come to these concerts with me... this is the most vibrant orchestra that I know and I love them.

The concept of a chamber music series attached to an orchestral season springs from the percolating mind of our creative, energetic and buff conductor, Eric Paetkau (all conductors should work out and eat right, just saying).  This is our first season of more concerts, namely 4 orchestra concerts and 12 (count ‘em) chamber music concerts that feature the astonishingly good musicians within the orchestra.

Today I want to talk about the idea of chamber music within the orchestral context….

First of all, it is essential!   

Eric has a vision that is both detailed and allows the musicians to stretch out with their own particular style.  group of twenty-seven is actually drawn from a rotating pool 50 players based mostly in Toronto who have distinctive style, spirit and virtuosity.    Eric is very committed to collaborating with independent-minded musicians, disciplined, all-star players with minds of their own.  The results are vibrant yet cohesive in the extreme. 

With group of twenty-seven, this is the first time in my experience that an orchestral artistic director has opened the door and made it a reality by booking a scheduled chamber series as part of the orchestra’s season.

Eric has curated the series, choosing the artists, fitting them into the schedule and working together to create short programmes (one hour) that are performed without intermission in a comfortable setting.  Part of the vision is having a host who illuminates the music and draws out the musicians.  For our first concerts, the popular CBC host Tom Allen was the host, and for my recital last night with David Rose, Eric himself was the host. 

Which is what I really want to talk about.

And he is encouraging the musicians by committing his time and reputation to creating chamber concerts that truly shine the spotlight on them… this is not a conductor who stands back and waits to see if people are worthy of his time and interest!

I have to admit that I have been too busy woodshedding my concerti and recitals to attend any of the other chamber concerts, but after last night, I am going to make every effort to get to the other chamber concerts in the series… something this valuable needs a lot of support to survive.

The concert last night with David Rose…

For such a short concert (one hour of music), there is so much to say!!!

And what is it with musicians from Saskatchewan!?  Now based in Fredonia at SUNYFredonia, David is originally from Regina and is one of the most refined, thoughtful, responsive, utterly beautiful performers I have ever played with.  It was a complete joy to rehearse with him and to also hear his solos in the concerts.  His style is so different from mine… he takes all the space that is available in the music, yet his pulse is vivid, alert, vibrant.  He is relaxed yet never ever sleepy… it is a new kind of alertness that I will now try to own in my playing.  There is a frank grace, and natural candor that I really have never seen before, and a generosity of spirit that is startling.   And I have never ever played a recital with only a single viola!  A revelation.

When I arrived at the hall, the chairs had been all turned to face the massive fireplace and our artistic administrator, Emma Walker, has placed a log in the fire, ready to light just before the audience arrived.

Eric sat on a couch near where we played, and commented on the music, then invited me and David Rose to join him on the couch to talk about ourselves and our music.  He also invited composer Ann Park Rose to speak about her music, which she did so simply, eloquently and directly.  And he brought artist/mezzo soparano  PaulaAciniega, to the fore to talk about the painting that she did based on the new work on our program, Three Short Stories by Gernot Wolfgang for viola and bassoon.  This is the third large work that she has created this season, and she will go on to finish 9 more for each of the remaining concert.

 There was food at the back of the hall, a gift from our sponsors Cheese Magic and Wanda’s Pie in the Sky… mulled cider and wine perfumed the air.

The small audience was talking cheerfully and there were at least 6 children under the age of 9, all comfortable with their parents or drawing on the vacant stage.

I had a young friend in the audience, a high school bassoonist who was writing a report on the life of a professional musician (well, me).  Anyway, after the concert, she told Eric that she so enjoyed the atmosphere where the music was serious but the communication was casual. 

I have pasted our programme below… I think I should end this post now as it is already too long and I HAVE TO PRACTISE!!

David Rose and Nadina Mackie Jackson
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Heliconian Club
Sonata III  Opus IV (dedicated to Felice Baciocchi)           Niccolò Paganini       
viola and bassoon
i.                Allegro con Zelo
ii.              Allegretto con Moto

Caprices *                                                                               Mathieu Lussier (b. 1973)  solo bassoon  
i.                Rapsodie (1999)
ii.        Tarantelle (2001)        
iii.        Fantaisie (2001)    

Mook-Nyum by Ann Park-Rose (b. 1979)*                                               
solo viola

Sonata V Opus VI(dedicated to Madame T)                      Niccolò Paganini                                          
i.                Adagio con grazia e trasporto         
ii.              Andantino scherzando


Suite No. 2 in D minor                                                           J. S. Bach                   
solo viola
i.                Prelude
ii.              Allemande
iii.             Courante
iv.             Sarabande
v.              Menuet
vi.             Gigue

 Three Short Stories (2001)                                                 Gernot Wolfgang                             
viola and bassoon
i.                Uncle Bebop
ii.              Rays of Light
iii.             Latin Dance


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