Tag Archives: Moscow String Quartet

View from the Diefenbunker

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.

Attendees were welcomed by the Maple Leaf Brass Band in the parking lot and solo saxophonist Victor Herbiet in the “Blast Tunnel” entrance (see this video).

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!



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Orchestral excellence – Denise Djokic, Zürich Academic Orchestra; Moscow String Quartet

Posted by Liz

Something of a step away from chamber concerts to something larger this afternoon. Concert-goers at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts were treated to a wonderful afternoon concert by Denise Djokic and the Zürich Academic Orchestra (AOZ). The AOZ, founded 1897, is an 80-odd strong orchestra comprising students from Universität Zürich and ETH Zürich. A fellow concert-goer noted later the smart attire of the AOZ in comparison to the occasionally less-than smart NAC Orchestra. It was refreshing to see a stage full of young people (with a good gender balance too) playing high quality music and enjoying themselves immensely in the process.

First up was an intense new work  – according to the Swiss Ambassador to Canada, Ulrich Lehner, I believe comissioned for the AOZ – by Éric Champagne, entitled Mouvement symphonique no 1. Starting with a chromatic brass element, the short piece was full of contrasts and a good amount of percussion. I thought it a shame to end so soon – the end snuck up almost unexpected.

After this invigorating opener, Denise Djokic joined the AOZ for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op 104. The crowd was spellbound by Djokic’s expressive playing and stage presence as well as excellent playing from the AOC. Whilst the final work, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5, was of equal quality, for me it felt like a slight anticlimax after the Dvořák.

A quick venue change to Dominion-Chalmers for the Moscow String Quartet. I could only stay for the first half, but Borodin’s String Quartet No 2 was supreme and Three Pieces for String Quartet by Stravinsky excellent and unusual! These short pieces were a striking difference to the Borodin piece, but included glissandi and some spiky cello parts. The second work had something of the character of a cartoon chase!

Anyone still without a ticket for Ben Heppner on 15th July should head over to iPricedit.com. The final block of reserved seating tickets are available as a ‘set your own price’ bid.

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