T’is the winter of our discontent (Part D)…
Well perhaps one should take a moment to talk about better things. And music is always something that uplifts the spirit and enhances the brain. Finally we are getting the opportunity to get out in public and hear some. It has been one of my biggest concerns (maybe even complaints) about the management of the pandemic by both political and health officials – there has been next to no recognition of the necessity of ensuring people get to experience music in social settings!
Finally this past month I have been able to correct this significant lack in my life. On my Mother’s birthday (January 22nd) I was able to attend a live performance by the Okanagan Symphony. It was titled Romp & Repose and featured several members of the orchestra as guest artists: Karmen Doucette – Bassoon, Lauris Davis – English Horn, Audrey Patterson – Trumpet. Due to the sudden illness of our conductor Rosemary Thomson, Rolf Bertsch was airlifted in. He is a very talented person – has to be to be able to come in at the last moment and do such a remarkable job bringing all the components of the program together in a very fine and professional way. He has worked in many places and is currently in his 14th season as Artistic Director & Conductor of the Calgary Civic Symphony. But enough about him.
The three featured women musicians were very good, enjoyable to listen to, and demonstrated that within many orchestras there is an abundance of talent that can perform solos, duets and the like as well as anybody.
The Trumpet and the English Horn were featured in the presentation of Quiet City by Aaron Copeland (a much different approach to music than what I was used to when hearing in his works). The Bassoon was front and centre in the Canadian Aura Pon’s specially created work titled Romp & Repose. I love the bassoon and Ms. Doucette did not disappoint. She also returned for an encore before the break. The remainder of the evening included works by Benjamin Britten, Ottorino Respighi and Maurice Ravel. It was a restorative evening and served to validate my complaints from earlier, that this type of event should never have been closed to the public – all one had to do was look at the body language or the eyes of attendees as they left the concert hall, there was a sense of renewed life, of happiness, of hope.
The next Saturday I was able to go to our local cinema and view Live From the Met. The presentation was Rigoletto which was set this time in the 1920’s in Germany. Now I had seen this opera performed some years ago by the Met but it was set in Las Vegas in the 50’s/60’s. This latest production was much, much better. The setting seemed more credible and the costumes definitely reinforced the roles of the various characters. The singing was special, but that’s nothing new for the Met. The key this time was in the selection of singers for the key roles. Each one fit their part precisely – the result was an incredibly believable unfolding of the story. It was less an opera and more an observation of realty. Even the mobs were realistic and the tragic occurances seemed to unfold naturally. Like the recent movie version of the musical West Side Story, this Rigoletto ended in a way that you wished didn’t. I actually wanted another act, a happier scenario. But remember where we are in our year: the Met seemed to want to remind me that t’is our winter of our discontent!!