Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mercoledi Musicale

Ontario Youth Choir at
the National Gallery, Ottawa
Though I have not written much about, well anything lately but music more specifically since my return to Ottawa it has not been for a lack of music or musical events in my life.  Sadly of opera there is little here but we do have a rich orchestral and concert season and the luxury of not one but two summer classical festivals.  That and our darling Cathy who makes sure we are kept well aware of what is happening chorally and orchestral in town.  Thanks to her urging we attended a marvellous concert by the Ontario Youth Choir which for its unique blend of music, fascinating staging and young voices made for a remarkable evening on the theme "What is Life?" Though they may not have answered that question the young singers, from all over the province, gave every indication that music was their lives!  And they greatly enriched our lives with their music that evening.

Music and Beyond and Chamberfest both offer a wealth and variety of music over their respective two-three week periods.  In the case of both festival there can be as many as 5 events taking place in one day - some in small venues, others in more spacious halls, some may only last an hour while others are a full evenings entertainment.  Over July and August we had dance, chamber music, vocal recitals, piano concerts, trios, quartets, organ recitals, choral concerts, music from Renaissance to atonal, late night jazz, modern chamber operas and to end the Festival season a late night concert by Lemon Bucket, the only Balkan-Gypsy-Klezmer-Party-Punk Super-Band in Toronto.  Eclectic was definitely the word for the line up provided by the two festivals.

One of the joys of the past season was hearing Angela Hewitt not once but twice.  She appeared with the National Arts Centre Orchestra late last fall in the Ravel Piano Concerto and predictably knock our wooly socks off.  Afterwardss she hosted a small group of us at a coffee and desert reception and proceeded to charm us all with chat about her festival in Trasimeno, her love of the Ravel (she first played it when she was 13) and her upcoming concerts.

In the early spring she returned to her home town to be feted during Angela Hewitt Week in Ottawa and give a concert with the Ottawa Chamber Players.  I'll quote from her own website about the turn of events that evening took:

As soon as I returned to Ottawa from the West Coast, it was non-stop action for several days. At the concert in a packed-out Christ Church Cathedral on Friday night, the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, presented me with a plaque and a personalized citation commemorating Angela Hewitt Week in Ottawa. He told me to put it on the dashboard of my car to avoid getting parking fines for a week! Unfortunately Guylaine Lemaire, the violist of the Chamber Players of Canada, was unable to perform because of an injury, but Philippe Djokic from Halifax came at the last moment and played in the Schumann Piano Quintet. That was great fun! I used my new ipad for my score, turning pages with my foot using an Air Turn pedal (works by Bluetooth so no wires!). Fantastic! Takes a bit of practise, mind you, to get the co-ordination right. As the quartet couldn't play Schubert's Death and the Maiden with a new player at such short notice, I filled in the second half, performing solo Couperin and Ravel. It was wonderful to see so many friends and fans.
Angela Hewiitt - News
Angela Hewitt Week in Ottawa (2012-05-25)
So sadly we were denied the Death and the Maiden and had to do with a second half solo concert by Miss Hewitt.   We were all so disappointed - yeah right!!!!

What was rather touching, and is not mentioned in her report, was one of her encore pieces.  As she says the concert took place in Christ Church Anglican Cathedral where Godfrey Hewitt, her father,  was organist and choirmaster for 49 years.  As an encore she played Bach, as only she can play Bach,  a piano arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.  And familair as that piece may be she brought a depth of feeling to it that I would like to think was inspired by the venue and the memories it held for her.

As an interesting sidebar next June Miss Hewitt will be giving a benefit concert to celebrate the consecration of St Jude's Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit on Baffin Island.  The original cathedral - a small igloo shaped building - was destroyed by arson in 2005.  A combination of the short building season, a construction company that went out of business because of the recession and a paucity of funding it has been a long struggle to get a new cathedral built.  Angela Hewitt promised that she would give this concert when the building was completed.  Though Iqaluit is 2085 kilometres (1296 miles) from Ottawa and a world away from Miss Hewitt's normal concert venues but the announcement of the concert came as no surprise.  And I was just remarking to Laurent that I was sorely tempted to go just for the pleasure of hearing her in an area of my country I have never seen but always wanted to visit.

12 September - 1899: Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Do it! Go to Iqaluit! What a trip that would be.

David said...

Angela Hewitt is indeed a top National Treasure. Lucky you.