Charlotte Nediger (harpsichord)
Most musicians aren’t morning people – after all, we have to be at our best in the evening when performing – so I was surprised to meet a relatively chipper group of colleagues at 7:00 am getting ready to board the bus outside Trinity-St. Paul’s, helped perhaps by the large box of Tim’s donuts that seemed a fitting beginning to an Ontario road tour. We were off to the village of Sharbot Lake, 80 km north of Kingston in Central Frontenac Township. The reason for the early departure was that we were to play two concerts there: one for the children from the local elementary schools in the early afternoon, and another for the community in the evening. The former was the launch of Jeanne’s “Go for Baroque” show, introducing young people to the baroque orchestra. The children loved it. My favourite part of children’s concerts is always the question-and-answer portion. One little girl knew how to name the notes on her keyboard, but wondered how we read the “sticks and blobs” on the page, i.e. the musical notation. Their favourite instrument today was the big double bass, deemed “cool!”
Between concerts some caught up on missed sleep (the night before a tour departure is notoriously insomniatic), some went for a stroll to the lake, and others practised. Harpsichordists don’t usually get a chance to practise on tour – access to the performing spaces is limited, and even the best hotels don’t come equipped with a harpsichord! But St. James Major Church, site of both our concerts, was a lovely, bright space, and I spent a luxurious couple of hours practising in its warm, reverberant acoustic.
The evening concert was introduced by the local Town Crier Paddy O’Connor, in full period costume, and by Mayor Janet Gutowski. The generous funding of the Ontario Arts Council and our private sponsors Sun Life Financial and TD Bank Group allows us to play in small towns like Sharbot Lake in our home province, and it really is very special. Normally the residents would have to travel to a big city to hear a group like Tafelmusik play, but attending as a community rather than as bystanders is a very different experience. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and anyone in the orchestra who was feeling the effects of the long day was quickly energized. In smaller venues I like to invite those who are interested to come see the harpsichord after the concert, and tonight the instrument was practically swarmed. I had a great time showing off the Tafelmusik harpsichord and explaining its workings – though it did mean I was the last one on the bus! Off to Kingston, where we will perform tomorrow night.