Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Articulation

Over the past few weeks I have been collecting information to write a booklet for young modern bassoonists who are beginning to look at early repertoire for the instrument. I began work on this project when it was recently announced that I would be the historical bassoonist on staff at the Brooke Valley Bassoon Days in Lanark County, Ontario, this August (unfortunately, due to scheduling I wasn't able to get on the poster below...). It will be a great opportunity to talk to young musicians and shape their inquiry into the area of early music without the baggage which comes with learning a new instrument.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Temper's Flare

Below is a  response to Richard Todd’s “Temper Temper”, an article published in April. This response was submitted not more than a few days after Todd's article was published, but I only received confirmation this week that it did not fit the submission guidelines of the same publication. Therefore I have copied it in full for you below.

‘Baroque’ is a word which all music students are familiar with. Indeed, even since Mr. Todd’s school days have teachers introduced a music history course centered on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the definition of barocco. Literally taken, it means ‘a deformed pearl’. It wasn’t something anyone in the eighteenth century wanted attributed to their work either, but, though I dare not shout too loud, I believe there is something to be learned about ourselves from it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Out with a Bang

Tonight marks the last of four performances of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks with Ensemble Zefiro. In a very much royal affair, Wednesday night saw four thousand people descend on the palace gardens of Versailles to witness a fireworks show synchronized to Handel's classic. Needless to say, they got what they paid for.


Friday, May 29, 2015

The Right Room

Last week I performed my first professional recital in the greater Switzerland. Along with my friends Alexandra and Ziv, I performed a program of a variety of obscure works for bassoon, including a piece of my own. The venue was a 16th century Schloss in Hahnberg, near lake Constance.

The building was incredible in that it was owned by a man who is a professional architect specializing in the restoration of 'ancient' structures. His Schloss, which he restored himself, is now in immaculate condition. The concert room, about the size of a small living-room with a vaulted ceiling, was originally a kitchen until it was renovated in the 17th century.

Most worrisome for an ensemble consisting of archlute, viola da gamba, and bassoon is balance. Though in a rehearsal setting balance isn't necessarily a primary concern (as we weren't rehearsing at the venue), we were conscious that I could easily overpower the group in a loftier acoustic. Furthermore, Alexandra and I were to play Couperin's 13e Concert, from Les Gouts-reunis, a piece which can be problematic when played by a bassoon and gamba.

Our trio at the facade of
Schloss Kleiner Hahnberg
Entering the concert room which was bursting with fifty spectators, I was curious to hear what the group sound would be. When we first arrived we got an idea of what to expect, but the presence of a crowd can have a huge impact on the acoustic. Playing the first notes of the program we were delighted. Not only was the balance excellent, but the proximity of the audience and their investment in the performance made for quite the experience.

Coming home on the train the discussion centered on the concert room. So rare is it these days that we get to perform chamber music in the very kind of room known to the composers and amazing it was that our primary concern that day was vanquished by it.

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