Due to the clash with The Rivered Earth, I didn’t make it to Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War at the Diefenbunker on Wednesday, however a fellow concert-goer, Diana, went along and here is her review:
On Wednesday evening at 6:00 pm at the Diefenbunker Museum a very large crowd was already in line for the opening of “Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War”. Visitors were provided with a pamphlet containing a map of the facility and list of scheduled performances, and were encouraged to wander at will for the next three hours. In various rooms one encountered musical performances, films and refreshments in addition to having the opportunity to examine the fascinating Museum and its exhibits.
This first-time visitor was very impressed with the Museum, and the addition of the musical presentations made the visit very special indeed. Most performances lasted about 20 minutes. In some cases a sequence of different mini-concerts occupied the same space; in others the same performance was repeated several times throughout the evening. All of the performers chose music that was either of the Cold War era or musically appropriate to the atmosphere of the venue.
Of particular interest to this visitor were the performances by Thorwald Jørgensen on the theremin, an instrument heard sometimes in sci-fi movies but rarely seen in person. In the cafeteria one could hear the Mark Ferguson jazz trio alternating timeslots with the Moscow String Quartet. It seemed incongruous but perhaps fitting to have a Russian group perform within a bastion of Cold War anti-Soviet activity! A similar but more moving juxtaposition occurred in the “Requiem Exhibit” room dedicated to Hiroshima, where Yuki Isami performed on traditional Japanese instruments.
Four stories underground, the lowest level of the Museum had a distinct chill with an air temperature about 15 degrees less than the warm day outside. Here this visitor enjoyed Camille Churchfield on flute accompanied by Jean Desmarais on piano (actually electronic keyboard given the logistics of the venue) with splendid resonant acoustics in the “Bank of Canada Vault”. The adjacent “Morgue/Freezer” room featured Roland Graham playing works for organ (again via electronic keyboard).
There were quite a number of other musical performances as well; too many to list. Film presentations on small screens or TVs included “The Iron Curtain” and “Dr. Strangelove”. And visitors were treated to ample food, beer and wine in the cafeteria!
Huge kudos to the festival staff who organized this event. It was truly “music and beyond”: music, film, history, an educational excursion, and a party all rolled into one!