Thursday, November 24, 2011

Canada's only recorder quintet? Flute Alors!

photo by Pierre-√Čtienne Bergeron and Daniel-Jean Primeau
Flute Alors! (from left to right)
Marie-Laurence Primeau
Vincent Lauzer
Alexa Raine-Wright
Caroline Tremblay
Jean-Michel Leduc
Montreal, North America's most European city. A veritable oak of a city with a rich heritage and a deeply-rooted early music community supporting notable groups such as Arion, Ensemble Caprice, and Les Idees Heureuses. The city is also home to many prestigious music schools including Universite de Montreal, McGill University, Le Conservatoire de musique de Quebec a Montreal, and Concordia University.

A typical Saturday evening's choice of concerts include the Opera, the various orchestre (OSM, Arion, I Musici, Orchestre Metropolitaine, etc.), the universities' ensembles, and, occasionally, a bright group of recorder virtuosi named Flute Alors!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Moment of Hegemony?

This coming Friday and Saturday I will be performing in a production of Handel's Messiah. This will be my third year as bassoonist for the freelance orchestra, though it will be my first time performing with the modern instrument. This past Saturday we had our first rehearsal and it was quite the experience.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Liaison - San Francisco's Freshest Baroque Ensemble

Photo by Natalie Perez
(From right to left)
Susie Fong, harpsichord
Danielle Reutter-Harrah, mezzo
Hallie Pridham, cello/gamba
Katy Olsen, soprano
San Francisco, one of top tourist destinations in the world and the second most densely-populated city in the U.S. Home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and Harry Callahan, the, sadly, fictional .44 Magnum-wielding policeman made famous by Clint Eastwood in Don Siegel's cult flick 'Dirty Harry'.

Some on this side of the continent may not be aware of this, but San Fran is also host to two(!) HIP (Historically Informed Performance) Orchestre, the American Bach Soloists and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; and a thriving chamber music scene. The San Francisco Conservatory, one of the most important, if not the most; conservatories on the west coast, runs a baroque ensemble as well as a masterclass series with help from the American Bach Soloists, who also run an academy there in the summer.

Recently, the garden that is the Bay Area's music scene has become that much richer. Four fruits of the San Francisco Conservatory's labour have bunched together to become Liaison, an early-music ensemble which hopes to better engage local audiences. "We hope for our concerts to have a feel more accustomed to a local pop concert," says Susie, Liaison's harpsichordist; "where audiences there feel that they have a personal connection with the musicians more-so than at a concert of classical music."

Although there are challenges ahead, as with most brand new ensembles, Liaison has youth on its side. The four 20-somethings hope to cultivate an audience of both usual early-music concert-goers as well as under-35s by creating a more social atmosphere, presenting more dramatic material, and performing in 'non-traditional' venues. Although a perfect venue springs to mind, Danielle noted that, due to possible culture shock, "we couldn't just walk into a bar and play [baroque] music."

An encouraging prospect is the group's commitment to success. Before their first appearance in public, Liaison already had 3 engagements booked for the first half of 2012. What's their secret? Katy, enlightened me: "We're all responsible for networking, getting gigs and we split tasks among us. I organised the photo shoot, for example." Susie, responsible for creating the group's Facebook page, had a life in arts marketing before completing her masters this past spring, having worked with the San Francisco Symphony as well as the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and her skills have been put to good use. Interestingly enough, a top priority for the ensemble is the development of a press kit.

Liaison's main interest is the music of the French baroque, though they don't limit themselves to that. Displaying a range of styles in their inaugural concert, the quartet performed in a very intimate setting at the Starlite Vineyards, just north of San Pablo Bay.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Andy's Handy Hints: Timeraiser

Last week I read an article in The Globe and Mail about Vancouver's Waldorf hotel. The hotel, which has become a cultural centre for the city's youth (by youth I mean under-35s), has been taken over by the art community and turned into an all-purpose venue of sorts. You can read the article here.

What caught my attention was a description of a 'timeraiser' taking part at the Waldorf by a political campaign "where attendees bid time instead of money for items such as Science World passes and Burlesque dance lessons"(TGaM, Oct. 28, 2011)... Isn't that a fantastic idea?

The to-do list for ensemble OVO is quite long, and each task often requires a different 'hat', or skill set, in order for it to be completed. Imagine having someone with an accountant hat, or a grant writing hat working with you...

Unfortunately for a new ensemble, it may be hard to find items valuable enough for people to want to bid hours of their time to win. A free in-house concert could be a real winner, but there must also be some non music-related items that might spark interest. 


Think about it!

More of Andy's Handy Hints can be found here

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