Tag Archives: Victor Herbiet

Brahms, Debussy and a Canadian Voyage

Posted by Liz

New music to start off Friday’s concert schedule with Canadian Voyage at midday, featuring various new works by Canadian composers. The last (and best) piece was Victor Herbiet’s Concerto de Chambre; the piece was written to show that new saxophone music need not be alienating! The sextet (saxophone, 2 violins, viola, cello and piano) was an interesting mix of romantic-style melodies and technique. A very interesting 2-movement work that ought to be played regularly. out of the other works, Soulmate from Chan Kai Nin (for solo cello) was excellent but I found Still Time by John Burge to be harder to fathom.

Moving swiftly to Dominion-Chalmers for an afternoon of entertainment from ‘Alexander Tselyakov and Friends’. True light-hearted entertainment, perfectly suited to 2pm. Tselyakov père et fils started the afternoon with a piano four-hands arrangement of Debussy’s Petite Suite. Subsequently Tselyakov, Arianna Warsaw-Fan and Julian Armour (the latter two, after a few days of sheet music blowing around, with clothes pegs on their music stands) performed the short but very expressive Piano Trio in G major, again by Debussy.

A change of composer to Milhaud, whom I don’t recall having heard in concert before. I thought his Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Op 157b matched the Debussy trio in good-humoured beautiful music, but livelier. The odd discordant moment in the fourth movement added an extra twist. Finishing off with a flourish came courtesy of Saint-Saëns’ Septet for Trumpet, String Quintet and Piano, Op 65.

Later on I headed to Saint Brigid‘s. The heat kept me away from the first half of A Brahms Night Out, but I heard some of the DJ set in the interim and it brought to mind the image of dancing in a field with glow sticks. There was a reasonable audience for Orchestra de la francophonie’s (OF) performances of Brahms’ Third and Fourth Symphonies Opp 90 and 98, plus a new work by Julien Bilodeau. Bilodeau’s piece, Concerto du printemps pour piano et orchestre, had a varied mix including interesting piano parts, a full orchestral scream, lots of percussion and ended with a kind of slap. Totally different from Brahms, maybe almost too different in terms of programming.

Brahms’ Fourth Symphony was the more enjoyable of the two. The OF played well, but sadly not as well as the Zürich Academic Orchestra on Tuesday. It was again refreshing to see a group of young musicians on stage, though I did not envy them having to perform in jeans!

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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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