Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chamber Music, Montreal Style


I have, among my souvenirs, a program from a concert we went to in December of 2006. Well, what I call a "program" is actually a single sheet of paper, with the details of a concert presented by a group of McGill University music students.

They do this, students. They put on free concerts for the public. It's part of their curriculum. They get to perform, and the public benefits. There are no losers.

This particular evening featured a group of chamber music ensembles, and they played string quartets by Mozart and Beethoven (how can you lose?) and a piano quintet by Shostakovitch, which I liked, and my wife didn't. Ah, what does she know.

This is a great city for music. If you have the money, there are plenty of big names that have been here over the last few years: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Santana, Paul Simon (okay so my age is showing). For those of us with lesser means, there are pubs with rock groups, pubs with jazz groups, pubs with country groups (after you pay for the cover charge, and, say, four beers, you've spent as much as two tickets to Stevie Wonder).

And there is the Montreal Chamber Orchestra.

We missed the concert last night. Wife was sick. Too bad. Those concerts are a kick. There is a shuttle bus that takes patrons from the Métro station up the hill to the "concert hall" - actually the Salle Claude Champagne, a recital hall in the University de Montréal. The concerts are totally free; apparently the cost is paid by some well-heeled corporate sponsors.

And then last spring we went to hear some music student playing works for solo flute. The music she played was pretty modern. On one piece she was accompanied by pre-recorded bird sounds. I thought someone left the window open.

She was ok. But she was wearing a dress with spaghetti straps, and they kept slipping off her shoulder, so she was distracted by her apparel, and so was the audience.

It's not all about music anyway, is it?

So I have this souvenir program. The first piece was played by:

  • Marjolaine Lambert - violin
  • Alexander Read - violin
  • Amina Tébini - viola
  • Brandon Wilkie - cello

Remember their names, and call me when they become famous. Because during the intermission, I found them in the lobby and I got autographs from three of them (I couldn't find Alex). And I think I made their day…

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