Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Photo: June 29, 2016 - taken while the car was standing still!
Funny thing about my drive home from playing music with friends. The drive started in rain, at times very heavy, but I made good time - in ten minutes I was half way home. The skies cleared and the traffic stopped. Shouldn't it be the reverse? The next "half" of the trip home took me one hour and thirty five minutes! It's definitely a record long trip for a route I have taken many times.
Photo: June 28, 2016
Time to plan for our road trip. Escape the heat of summer and head further north. Our trip is not until later this summer, but the ferry is now booked as well as accommodation for our first part of the trip. Wait for those photos - not just the map!
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Photos: June 26, 2016
I started my day with a concert by Paolo Pandolfo, who played his own arrangements for viola da gamba of two of Bach's cello suites. He plays with passion, taking risks, exploring the music. Even if you don't agree with all he did, it is hard not to be moved by his playing. I particularly liked the slow movements.
An early afternoon concert with Alkemia was a delight. Gilles Cantagrel played Bach's brother with the four above playing four of Bach's children. They played and sang.
Then they were joined by "Papa" Bach, none other than Luc Beauséjour. The group even got the audience to sing two pieces in four part harmony. There were enough good singers there that those, like me, could find the notes and sing along.
The day was very hot. The Arts Building offered a little respite from the heat. My friends and I perched on the cool stone staircase waiting for the next concert. One advantage - we got to hear Lina Tur Bonet warm up for her concert as she checked out the acoustics.
More Bach for solo violin - quite a workout for the violinist!
The table was set for the final tea as we walked into Redpath Hall for the final tempestuous concert - three Bach cantatas.
The festival is the brainchild of Susie Napper, who for years was the sole artistic director. Now in its fourteenth year, the festival is direction is shared by her and Matthias Maute.
As is customary at the end of the festival, volunteers holding banners lead the musicians and audience out. We were treated to an instrumental rendition of the last chorale as we exited.
Thank you to all who organized (a special thanks to Susie Napper, Matthias Maute and Nicolas Fortin), who played and who participated in any way in the festival. It is always something I look forward to. But now.... I'm tired and can only imagine how you feel!
Monday, June 27, 2016
Photos: June 25, 2016
Another long day of concerts... We started the day in Redpath Museum, with a concert of nyckelharpa, a Scandinavian instrument. All the compositions were played by the composer, Jean-François Bélanger but were based on the Scandinavian style of music. The earliest references to this instrument date from the middle ages; images are found in artwork.
It is quite a complex instrument with strings that are bowed. The player presses on keys which then depress the strings allowing for changes in pitch much like a string player would depress a string with his/her finger. The sound is similar to a hurdy-gurdy which is in the same family of instruments.
Bélanger also had a tenorharpa (a lower pitch); it was easier to see the action of the keys on this instrument.
A concert by Vincent Lauzer was held in the Osler Library. It was definitely not baroque, though all the pieces by contemporary composers all by one of whom was in the room. Four of the six pieces were composed specifically for Vincent. It was a technical challenge for Vincent (but, as always, he was up to it) and an aural challenge for the audience who are more used to baroque sounds. He convinced me - I quite enjoyed the concert.
The head librarian of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine invited us to see the "old" part of the library, actually a recreation of the original Osler Library which was moved in the 1960's when the medical faculty moved to the McIntyre Building. It contains thousands of old volumes housed in beautiful wood cabinets. The ashes of Osler and his wife are also housed there so it is a mausoleum as well as a library.
It was back to the Redpath Museum and another concert under the dinosaur. I had not been in the museum since I was about ten, so it was fun to pass by items on my way up the stairs that triggered memories.
A concert of Spanish music from both baroque and renaissance times was pared to the essentials according to guitarist, David Jacques. Strip away the extraneous instruments and with just guitar and percussion you can hear the essence of this music. The museum was hot, perhaps fitting for music from Spain.
Ziya Tabassian, an extraordinary percussionist, uses all parts of his body to provide the rhythms and textures for the music.
This renaissance guitar, much smaller than a modern guitar and smaller than the baroque guitar can still fill a room with sound. It was hard to keep still to the Spanish rhythms with pulses changing from 3 beats to 2 beats. In my mind I could see dancers swaying, stamping, but with the dignity and elegance that Spanish dancers posses.
In the evening we were treated to a lot of dance, a co-production Le Nouvel Opéra and the Abbaye royale de Saint-Riquier with choreography by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, above, and Mickaël Bouffard. It was based around the fictional widow of Jean-Féry Rebel and all the music was his, played on two harpshichords.
Lively dancing, a script done in old French making it harder for me to understand. There were some delightful moments.
Four concerts... I just couldn't do the fifth. After all there is more to come.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Photos: June 24, 2016
The Montreal Baroque Festival got off to a delightful start on Thursday evening. The theme of this year's festival is Tempest in a Teapot or Tempête dans un Verre d'Eau. After each of the "Main Concerts" a taste of tea is served in a glass.
(Photo from June 23)
All concerts feature stormy titles and many notes! And many are in unusual spaces.
So many concerts, I had to pace myself. The festival is like a musical marathon - many concerts over a 3 1/2 day span in a great variety of venues. Pictured above is Sonate 1704 - a spectacular concert featuring the soprano Jacinthe Thibault, a singer I had not heard before. I was very impressed.
Spanish violinist, Lina Tur Bonet, is here for a series of three concerts featuring the solo violin sonatas and partitas. The acoustics in this part of Marché Bonsecours are surprisingly good. And the music - always of top quality.
Susie Napper, the founder of the festival now shares direction with Matthias Maute. Friday's concert at Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours featured Ensemble Caprice with a very interesting programme of a blend of Baroque music and Métis music.
Ensemble Caprice was joined by the Métis Fiddler Quartet. The music was, at times lively, at times fluffy and at times very moving. We live in a time when we are finally valuing the history, philosophy and lives of the native people's of Canada. The Métis are a mix of aboriginal and European (mostly French) and their songs need to be shared and valued.
After the concert the music spilled into the street as the Métis Fiddler Quartet continued the music outdoors.
The day did not finish there...
The last concert of the evening was held in the crypt of the church - a dark and intimate setting. Ensemble La Chamaille and Autour de la Flûte joined forces to present sonatas by Boismortier for five flutes. It was a very mellow end to the day.
All the flutes were made by Boaz Berney, including the bass baroque flute which he, himself played.
The mouthpiece has to be curved as otherwise it would be too long for the player to reach the embouchure.
A very full day!
Friday, June 24, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
The Viking Ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, is docked in Montreal. It is a modern Viking ship built by hand in as authentic a style as possible. This year it crossed the Atlantic from Norway to Iceland to Greenland and then to Newfoundland in much the same way that Leif Eriksson did.
It is hard to imagine sailing in this across the ocean. Although the ship is similar to the original Viking ships, it does have some modern fittings: a gas stove, toilets as well as GPS and communications equipment. There is also a motor which is used in the river. The ship will be going through the seaway - hard to do with a large square sail! You can learn more about the ship and its route here.
The craftsmanship is amazing from the hull to the many details of decorative work found around the ship.
Odin's ravens accompany the ship. They are said to fly out at night to check out the best route for the ship and warn Odin about any problems ahead.
This is the figure at the stern of the ship.
Photos: June 20, 2016
The lagoon meanders through Westmount Park. There are many spots to sit quietly by the water. I often pass people reading, picnicking, and just enjoying the air. Now the lagoon is dotted with white flowers floating on the surface. The flowering trees are dropping their blossoms.
The water circulates. Large faucets spew out the water from one end.
I always enjoy the reflections. It is a place of peace.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Photos: June 19, 2016
The air lost a bit of its heavy heat and we ventured out to move a bit. Neither of us are hot weather people and we tend to hibernate during the heat of the day. The evening air suits us more. The rising moon cast its gentle light.
I always stop to admire new blooms. While I don't love the heat, I do enjoy its offspring - the abundant flowers.
This dog was being treated to a ride in its new doggie seat. We learned that it was 14 and being treated for cancer. No longer frisky itself, I imagine it enjoyed feeling the breeze as its owner pedalled along.
Higher the moon rose on the last spring night. And then the solstice.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Photos: June 18, 2016
There is nothing like watching a child at work. My little friend came for a visit while her parents were busy. E. decided to build a "cake" with candles. It was a party for the turtles who were lined up watching.
Nothing fazed her, even though she accidentally knocked down some blocks. She quickly rebuilt.
She knew what she wanted to accomplish and set to doing it. The turtles had a good party ;-) - many candles on the cake and many flavours of cake! I was delighted to be a guest.