by Patrick Jordan, viola Tafelmusik's performance of Alison Mackay’s latest creation, Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House, at the Aga Khan Museum last week on Friday, December 9 was many things. It was on the one hand the culmination of the production of the video component of our upcoming DVD of the program. It was also and all of a sudden, one of the most moving and intense performances I have experienced in quite some time.
By John Abberger, oboe
After two days of rehearsal we performed our first concert on the tour on Sunday, November 12 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. The two days of rehearsal in China were grueling but necessary for several reasons. In the first place, we have not performed Bach: The Circle of Creation since we first mounted it in April 2015, or more than eighteen months ago, and there is general agreement that Circle of Creation is the most difficult memorization feat that we have tackled to date, owing to the complexity of Bach’s music.
By Michelle Odorico, violin
The instruments sent to Edmonton by ground transportation were supposed to arrive Thursday, in advance of the orchestra, but there was a snafu. I happened to be in the hotel lobby Friday morning as Tour Manager Beth Anderson, cellist Christina Mahler, and lutenist Lucas Harris were anxiously awaiting their arrival, just then, a day late. There had been no concert the night before, so no disaster on that front, but it is always an uncomfortable feeling to be separated from one's precious instrument, and one's pulse rate surges until it is confirmed that it has arrived intact.
By Christopher Verrette, violin
Will noted in his first post for this tour how remarkable it was to him that he could fly 5 hours from Toronto and land in the same country. We had a similar experience at ground level travelling by bus and ferry from Victoria to Kelowna for several hours without leaving the province of B.C. In Europe, one might have passed through three countries in the same time and distance. We had good weather again for the ferry crossing Tuesday morning. A bald eagle conveniently posed for us in a tree by the docks. I find the combination of fresh air on the open deck and hot chocolate particularly satisfying.
With a free morning on Monday it was a chance for a lie-in, a wander about town, or, if you were me, a chance to catch up on emails and ponder software systems. At lunchtime I popped out with Chris Verette and Alison Mckay to meet with Bob Fraser from the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. As well as playing with the VSO he also chairs the OCSM, a network of Canadian Orchestral Musicians. Bob took us to a really fantastic (and tiny) Japanese restaurant, where I could counteract last night's cocktails with some super-healthy fish. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the OCSM and also to talk about shared issues such as music director searches and the like.
I’m running a day behind with my blogging, so while I’m writing this on the bus back from tonight’s concert in Nanaimo, I’m actually going to tell you about the previous day's events.
Sunday saw us head to Duncan, about an hour north of Victoria, for a matinee performance. Along the way we saw some pretty spectacular scenery from the road, views over water and mountains, frustratingly only glimpsed briefly through gaps in the trees.
As we arrived into Duncan I spotted one of the town’s claims to fame - an enormous hockey stick and puck - apparently the world’s largest!
Following an all-too-short night’s sleep (I’m not usually an early riser as my colleagues will attest, but the time difference led to me waking at a horrible hour), we were off onto the next leg of the tour - to Victoria
One of the things that scares me most about touring is being late. At my previous Orchestra, if you were (especially as management) last on the bus you’d get a little (semi-jovial) jeer. Once, a colleague slept through his alarm and actually missed the bus - he never lived it down. Anyway, thankfully my early start meant I was there in time.
As I am rapidly finding out, barely a day goes by without something happening at Tafelmusik, and so we find ourselves (hot on the heels of the Ontario Tour and Mozart concerts) over in Western Canada. The Orchestra travelled out on Thursday evening while I, and my essential travelling companion, Bobblehead Bach (left on my desk with a pleading note the day before), followed on Friday.
Being from a pretty minuscule island, it still boggles my brain that you can fly for five hours and STILL be in the same country, and Vancouver feels somehow so different from Toronto it almost feels like one - for one thing the air just feels so fresh and clear.
Of course launching a blog is easy. Keeping it up to date is the harder part, so here is a slightly belated post about our recent Ontario tour. This is something of a fixture in our February schedule now and sees us performing concerts in venues both near and far across Ontario. These are a mix of overnight trips and what we call ‘runouts’ – i.e. where we are close enough to Toronto to return the same day.