In this third edition of Kaimerata Concerts on Denman Island, we are bringing to you music from one of the most celebrated chamber music composers of all time, Franz Schubert. Schubert did not become famous during his short life (he lived only 31 years) and his music remained mostly unknown except among his close and very supportive friends who would regularly meet in what became known as 'Schubertiads.' In these intimate and frequent evenings, artists and friends would unite and would listen to Schubert's latest compositions (mostly Lieder) as well as discuss and debate politically 'hot' topics of the time. Schubert's entourage remained forever faithful to him even well after his death and were essentially responsible for his being able to live from his composing at all. However, despite his lack of 'commercial' success and eternal frustrations with the artistic world around him, Schubert never stopped composing, churning out over 500 songs, 15 quartets, 2 piano trios, 2 string trios, an incredible Octet with strings and winds, a few other unusual ensembles (voice, viola, and piano or piano quintet with double bass or arpeggione and piano), not to speak of the enormous repertoire for piano, the symphonies, 15 attempts at opera, and the choral works.
The first concert of the festival will be in Courtenay on Thursday, August 11th at the North Island College in Courtenay at 7:30 p.m., where we will feature excerpts from the three concerts to come on Denman Island, in hoping to give just a small taste of all the marvels to come!
The second concert, (the first concert on Denman Island) will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Hall on Friday, August 12th. In this festival, we have had the 'burden' of having to make selection among a myriad of incredible compositions. We couldn't resist to include some of Schubert's best known works and maybe the most true reflection of his soul by presenting some Lieder. We have the great priviledge of having Aline Kutan come back to our island island to perform an unforgettable collection of Schubert's Lieder.
In the same concert, we also couldn't hold back from bringing you one of Schubert's most profound and most autobiographical works, the long but intense Quintet for two cellos in C major. This work is filled with gorgeous melodies, unbelievable textures and abrupt mood changes that reflect so much of what Schubert was all about: pure, genuine, talented, intensely happy, and intensely sad. The added cello (quartet plus a cello) allows for one cellist to contribute to the colour of the upper strings and the second cellist to act as the bass (and basis) of the group. The astounding Brian Yoon, former principal cellist of the Victoria Symphony will join Ariel, David, Hiroko and myself for this performance.
On Saturday, 13th of August at 4:00 p.m., we will have more Lieder sung by Aline Kutan (how to you choose between 500 songs?!) and the exhilirating Quartet entitled "Death and the Maiden." This quartet is one of the most performed quartets of all classical repertoire, and you will see why. It is virtuoso, exciting, beautiful, balanced, varied, and simply GREAT!
On Sunday, 14th of August a t 2:30 p.m., we will perform another work we couldn't resist: the immensely popular and upbeat Trout Quintet. Here Schubert takes a piano quartet (piano, violin, viola, cello) and adds a doublebass, with all the depth of sound and 'humour' that this instrument can bring. The 4th movement is the famous set of variations set on the theme of the Lieder called the 'Trout' but the whole work bubbles with joy and enthusiasm.
Last but not least, Catherine and I wanted to share with you in this same concert one of the most difficult and special works of all repertoire in existence for violin and piano, the infamous Fantasy for violin and piano. Infamous because it is extremely challenging, both technically and musically, and makes itself scarce on programs for these very reasons. We couldn't miss the opportunity to rise to the challenge and share with you this incredible work.
So there it is: our little Schubertiad on Denman Island, hoping that you can come and live the music with us.
2nd Season (2015): Felix Mendelssohn
After a wonderful 1st edition in 2014 of the Kaimerata Concerts Festival based on the life and chamber music of Maurice Ravel, we returned in full force with a presentation of the life and works of Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was one of the most impressive child prodigies of all time, said to be even more accomplished than the young Mozart (Goethe made the comparison!). By the age of 13, he had composed 12 String Symphonies. At the age of 16, he wrote one of the masterpieces of the 19 century, the String Octet. At age 18, most of his 'Midsummer's Night's Dream' was composed.
During his short life (38 years), not only did he perform, compose, and improvise on the piano and organ, but he also played violin and viola, painted, conducted, directed numerous festivals, revived the music of J.S. Bach, and gave his support for numerous performers and composers of his time. He also founded one of the first Conservatories in addition to having four children and a normal family life. Mendelssohn was perhaps the most important musical figure of the first half of the 19th century, having had relations with almost all the composers of the time, including a quite interesting tie to Richard Wagner (to be discussed during the festival!).
During our Festival 2015, we presented and performed some of Mendelssohn's greatest chamber works, all of which are simply magnificent. Most classical music lovers are familiar with the octet and perhaps the marvelous d minor trio, but few know the quartets, the double concerto (composed when he was 14!) and even the cello sonatas. For some inexplicable reason (also to be discussed during the festival), after being the most celebrated musician of the 19th century, Mendelssohn fell out of fame in the 20th century and became to be considered in a category below the 'greats' like Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. Upon hearing these works, you all saw how this is unjustified.
The performers who joined Catherine and me were the excellent and ever-so-popular Ariel Barnes, as well as our long-time friends and chamber music partners, David Visentin and Hiroko Kagawa. Following the footsteps of Mendelssohn himself, we gave the opportunity to young talents by giving them the opportunity to perform with the seasoned professionals (us!) and a chance to present one of the quartets on their own. We invited four gifted young musicians to perform the octet with us, the double concerto, and the quartet opus 44 no. 3. They added vigor, energy, and enthusiasm to our performances and kept us all on our toes! The young group included include Blythe Allers and Rae Gallimore from Victoria, Edward Powell from Calgary, and Ethan Allers from Victoria.
In 2015 we added two concerts to the 3-concert-series on Denman Island, with one in Courtenay and one on Hornby Island, making a total of 5 concerts. The first concert on the 19th of August was in Courtenay and featured highlights of the performances to come. The second concert, on the 20th of August was on Denman Island, featuring the Octet and the Double Concerto for violin, piano, and strings. The third concert on the 21st of August, was on Hornby Island included excerpts of the quartets and the d minor trio. The fourth concert was back on Denman Island on the 22nd of August, with the two incredible string quartets, one performed by the 'oldies' and the other by the 'young hot shots.' The last concert, again on Denman Island, on the 23rd of August, featured the famous d minor trio with Ariel and Catherine and a work from Mendelssohn's Master, the Suite No. 3 for cello by J.S Bach.
1st Season (2014): Maurice Ravel
We held the first edition of the Chamber Music Festival on Denman Island, with the works and life of Maurice Ravel as our theme. The motto of the Kaimerata series is “the more you know, the more you love.” I strongly believe that all one needs to appreciate the works of these masters is a bit of knowledge and familiarity. Over the length of these 4 concerts, I talked about Ravel, his entourage, and present the works, illustrating with our instruments some of the fascinating compositional elements. I assured you that by the end of the series, you would come to love Ravel’s music (in case you didn’t already) and will want more! Lo and behold, we met people after the last concert who had just listened (and loved) Daphnis and Chloe!
The first concert, on Thursday August 14th at 7:30 p.m., was a Presentation Concert. We performed some of the best known French music (Saint-Saëns The Swan, Debussy Claire de Lune, Ravel Tzigane) along with some excerpts of the concerts to come. I presented the series and the audience had the chance to meet the artists.
The second concert, called L’Affaire Ravel was on Friday August 15th at 7:30 p.m.. We performed Ravel´s gorgeous String Quartet and his teacher, Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet no. 1.
The third concert was on Saturday August 16th at 2:30 p.m.. Here we performed two of Ravel’s chef d’oeuvres: the Duo for Violin and Cello and the magical Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. Artists: Kai Gleusteen, violin. Ariel Barnes, cello Catherine Ordronneau, piano.
The last concert, on Sunday August 17th, also at 2:30 p.m., was entitled Ravel Classic-Jazz. In addition to Ravel’s Violin Sonata (with the Blues second movement), we performed some excerpts of Porgy and Bess by George Gerswhin and finished the festival with the Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio by Claude Bolling, including special guests Scott White on bass and Kelby Macnayr on drums. Kai Gleusteen, violin. Catherine Ordronneau, piano.