Residents gathered at the Bonnington Arts Centre on April 3 to hear Ensemble Vivant, “Canada’s Chamber Music Treasure,” Toronto Star.
The performance was the second to last of the season for the Arrow Lakes District Arts Council.
The group came on stage to much applause from the audience.
The beginning of the performance was slightly delayed due to a lighting issue — the stage wasn’t bright enough for the performers to see their music sheets.
The group kicked off the night with “Fugue in G minor”, written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1709.
While most of the group read music from sheets of paper, Norman Hathaway, the group’s viola player, read his music from an iPad.
Following Bach, the group changed directions slightly with music written by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola, who combined classical music with the Argentinian tango, and jazz.
It was easy to hear the tango style in the piece.
For the second Piazzola composition, the group performed “Milonga for Three”. It was a darker, more sombre piece, which incorporated the use of a rain stick, who’s use reminded one of something slithering or hissing on the ground.
The audience loved their performance.
“I’m a trained musician, and for my trained ear, they’re delightful,” said Andreea Myhal. “The music is a good combination of accessible and classical, which is usually a little dry for most people, but they’re doing a wonderful job of keeping this vivant, lively.”
It wasn’t all classical music. One of the final pieces the group played before the intermission was “Chaplin Medley”, a variety of music written and arranged by silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, and one of the band’s favourite pieces to play.
The medley brought you back to the silent movies of the 1920s, from tragic scenes and happy scenes, to scenes of romance. It was easy to picture what was happening as each musical transition took place.
Throughout the show, it was clear that while the group is very serious about their music, they’re also serious about having fun. There were many smiles and laughs between songs, and the group had great chemistry.
The final performance of the night was “Ragtime”, a piece composed for the group by their arranger, Rick Wilkins.
After the show, the audience was encouraged to come down and chat with the group, which many did.
This may have been Ensemble Vivant’s first time playing in Nakusp, but there is a good chance it won’t be the last.
“There was a really great feeling coming back from the room,” said Sybil Shanahan, the group’s cellist. “Sometimes you don’t feel a lot coming back, so it’s really nice to have interaction. It was a very enthusiastic crowd.”