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May052013

So Much Wonderful Music To Explore

This coming Wednesday we will start rehearsing our second show for Lula Lounge, a programme of music by Latin American composers.

It's so exciting to be finally making euphonia happen. I've talked about it for so long! And the group of musicians who are creating this ensemble with me are phenomenal. I am now certain that Toronto was the right choice.

We launched our residency at Lula on April 15th with a programme that included Philip Glass' Symphony no.3;  5 songs from Beck's 'Song Reader' (orchestrated by Jordan O'Connor) and Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony 110a.

The night was a great success. Musically we acheived our goal. We showed how classical music, however 'serious' can easily adapt to non-traditional settings like a night club. In fact the most successful piece of the night was not the popularist contemporary classical symphony by Glass or the orchestrated pop tunes of Beck but the intense, complex, attention demanding Chamber Symphony by Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

People chatted through the Glass and the Beck. This was okay, we anticipated this. The whole point of the evening was to present a formal performance in an informal setting. We didn't mind a little bit of chatter in the background. However, when it came to the Shostakovich we hoped that this chatter would be minimal. In reality, the audience and staff of Lula Lounge were absolutely silent during the 25 minute work!

From the moment the cellos whispered the opening D,Eb,C,B motif until Shostakovich's same four note musical signature closed the work, after five emotionally intense movements,  you could have heard a pin drop. It was wonderful. As one audience member, a man in his twenties who had never been to a classical concert, said to me, "my mind didn't wander for a moment!"

Of course it is Shostakovich's genius that held everyone spellbound, but I do believe that performing his Chamber Symphony at Lula Lounge where the experience was unexpected and the environment intimate amplified the drama of the work.

After our first show at Lula I'm itching to explore more repertoire. This month we will be performing music by Latin American composers including a stunningly beautiful piece by Manuel Ponce "Estampas Nocturnas". In June our programme will centre on the original 13 instrument version of Aaron Copland’s "Appalachian Spring" and July's show will grow from Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto. So much wonderful music to explore, I hope you can join us.

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