“I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound” – Buffalo Springfield

Saturday January 30, 2016, 7:30 pm at Centre 64 in Kimberley: Noemi Kiss and Rita Deane – Voice and Classical Guitar

We live in an era of complete sensory overload so it is nice to stop, step back and listen to sounds that are entirely human scale. There are no Marshall stack amplifiers with three guitars and a thudding back beat here. No fifty member symphony orchestra going full blast. No bar room high level back ground noise. No overhead TV sports distractions. Just a duo of voice and classical guitar performing music from across the musical spectrum. And the best thing yet….. an intimate venue where you can actually hear the music. That just about describes the concert by Rita Deane (Classical Guitar) and Noemi Kiss (Soprano) on Saturday night at Centre 64 in Kimberley.

152. Rita and Noemi

Both musicians  currently reside in the West Kootenays. Rita was raised in Rossland and has been studying guitar and piano since the age of six. She went on to study in Cordoba (Spain) and Salzburg (Austria). Noemi was born in Hungry and studied in Budapest and London. Noemi now resides in Agenta (it’s a long way from the centers of Euopean music to the jungles of British Columbia). Both musicians are fully fledged professional musicians who mostly teach and perform in the West Kootenays. The Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance  has made it possible for the duo to tour though out the East and West Kootenays and perform the following program.

Kiss and Deane program-ed_edited-1

To truly listen and appreciate this music, as in the words of the Buffalo Springfield song, one does have to stop. Then take a moment to re-calibrate  one’s senses to actually hear the sounds. Once done, a different aural universe becomes evident. The old saying “less is more” is very true in this instance. The concert space literally filled with sounds that would be completely lost if the music was amplified. As you can see from the above program of love songs the music covered in this concert is a broad spectrum of styles. From the music of the Elizabethan Lutenist John Dowland, through the Classic Era music of Mauro Giulani and Fernando Sor; the modern Classical composers, Joaquin Rodrigo, Heirto Villa-lobos and Benjamin Britten, to some traditional Irish and Hungarian folk songs and onto some arrangements of Eva Cassidy, including Sting’s Fields of Gold.
My pick of the music performed would be the Villa-Lobos piece, the John Dowland song and Sting’s Fields of Gold and that maybe because they are my favourite composers. In addition to those particular pieces the Hungarian folk song Volt Nekem szeretom   had a very special appeal to me for no other reason that it reminded me of the Agnes Baltsa 1985 album of Songs My Country Taught Me (a marvellous collection of Greek songs).

Here are some images from the Green Room (trying to keep warm)

100. Rita Deane  102. Noemi Kiss  106. Rita Deane 106. Noemi Kiss        104. Rita Deane

022. William (Grit) Laskin guitarSome images from the concert:116. Noemi Kiss  124 Rita and Noemi   130. Rita Deane   134. Noemi Kiss  136. Noemi Kiss  142. Noemi Kiss  150. Rita Deane  166. Rita Deane    168. Rita Deane  174. Rita Deane   244. Noemi Kiss  300. Rita Deane   300a. Rita Deane   302. Rita Deane 176. Rita Deane  246a. Noemi Kiss  310. Rita and Noemi

There was a third partner in the room – Rita’s magnificent William Laskin (“Grit”) Guitar with its distinctive arm rest bevel. That particular feature improves player comfort and has been adopted by a number of other luthiers. Rita has had the instrument for over 10 years and it was originally purchased at a price equivalent to that of motor vehicle. It is Rita’s baby and there is not a scratch or a bump on it. The standard features of a William Laskin classical guitar these days include Indian Rosewood back & sides, Sitka Spruce soundboard, Spanish Cedar neck (with Carbon Graphite reinforcement), Ebony fingerboard (w/ Ebony binding), Rosewood bridge w/ Ebony & Bone tie block, Ebony binding, Bone nut and saddle, Sloane tuners (bronze plate with ebony buttons). He offers enough non-standard features and custom options to please the most discerning musicians.

020. The Grit Laskin arm rest bevel   064. Rosewood Back

In a nutshell this was a “deliciously delicate” performance and I suggest that when they play again in Cranbrook next Saturday they should not be missed.

Feb6 Cranbrook


Saturday February 6, 2016, 7:30 pm at the ROYAL ALEXANDRA HALL in Cranbrook: Noemi Kiss and Rita Deane – Voice and Classical Guitar

100. Royal Alexandra Hall402. Noemi and Rita

Synchronicity is a concept which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no casual relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related (Wikipedia). Is that what this was? If so then bring on more of the same. The meaningful coincidences could be the musical collaboration of a Classical Guitarist from Nelson, BC and a magnificent Soprano from Hungry coming together in the acoustic environment of the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook. It was evident within minutes of the musicians entering the room that they were were enthralled by the acoustics. For the audience it was a chance to hear live music without any of the sonic distortion of added amplification. It was a real treat. I have been to a number of concerts in this hall and I have found that any artificial sound re-enforcement has had a negative impact on the music. For me there was only one drawback and and that was the natural prohibition on taking photos during the performance. The click of a camera shutter would have destroyed the musical ambience of the evening. I had to settle for some pre-concert shots  during the sound check. I can live with that………………….. The program was a recap of the sold-out concert in Nelson and the follow up performances in Fernie and Kimberley with the added zest of a unique acoustic environment

334. Rita Deane   202. Noemi Kiss   418. Rita and Noemi450. Rita and Noemi422. Rita and Noemi412a. Rita and Noemi436. Noemi and Rita

Thanks must go to the Kootenay Cultural Alliance for making this very special performance possible.


Paul Bley and Pierre Boulez – not really famous but …….

There are entertainers who are just that – entertainers. There are entertainers who are musicians and musicians who are entertainers. Sometimes it is hard to tell exactly which is which. Then there there are musicians who are just that – musicians. Then again  there are those musicians who go beyond the accepted artistic norms of their era and create their own categories. Two such musicians are the Canadian Jazz Pianist Paul Bley and the French modern classical composer Pierre Boulez. Both of these exemplary musicians passed away this month (January 2016).

Paul Bley, born November 10 1932, died January 3 2016

Paul Bley North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague in 1990

Paul Bley is a Canadian Jazz Pianist born and raised in Montreal. He was essentially a child of the Be-bop era who performed with some of the jazz greats of the era (including Charlie Parker). He started studying violin at 5 and piano at 8, and as a teenager began playing piano professionally as Buzzy Bley. In 1949, as a senior in high school, he briefly took over Oscar Peterson’s job at the Alberta Lounge in downtown Montreal. Mr. Bley left for New York in 1950 to attend the Juilliard School of Music. During his early years there, he played with the saxophonists Lester Young and Ben Webster. Keeping a hand in his hometown jazz scene, he helped organize the Jazz Workshop, a musician-run organization in Montreal that set up out-of-town soloists with local rhythm sections; in February 1953 he booked Charlie Parker for a concert and accompanied him. That concert was recorded, one of his first extant recordings before his first album as a leader, made nine months later with a trio that included Charles Mingus on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Through the mid-’50s, he was an adept bebop player with a spare style.

As he matured he went further afield in his musical explorations to become involved in what became known as “free form jazz”. In my opinion, what set him apart from the frenzy and frantic performances of other “free form” artists was a more melodic and measured approach. During his time in New York playing with the saxophonists Albert Ayler and Sonny Rollins, he defined as well as anyone the blurry line between the scratchiness of free improvisation and the virtuosity of the jazz tradition. His solo performances are said to have had a significant impact on the extended solo performances of Keith Jarrett.

He often talked about being eager to get outside his own habits. In  the 1981 documentary “Imagine the Sound” he professed not to practice or rehearse, out of what he called “a disdain for the known.” He did not stake his work on traditional notions of acceptability, or the approval of the listener. With that particular musical philosophy it is easy to see why he is not a household name even in his own country.

Paul Bley was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2008.

Although I don’t have an extensive collection of his music I do treasure and enjoy the recordings he made in 1961 (Fusion and Thesis) with the Jimmy Giuffre 3 (Jimmy Giuffre on Clarinet, Paul Bley on Piano and Steve Swallow on Double Bass). The albums were re-released as a double CD by ECM records in 1992. For that I am forever thankful. Another CD of interest is the 1993 duo recording he did with fellow Canadian, saxophonist Jane Bunnet called Double Time (released by Justin Time). Although  Jane is better known for her extensive explorations of Cuban music the album shares some of the “spacey” textures of the Jimmy Giuffre 3. I am sure these albums are only the tip of the iceberg.

Here is an audio clip from the Jimmy Giuffre recordings and a clip of Paul Bley in an interview.


 Pierre Boulez,  born 26 March 1925 , died 5 January 2016

Pierre Boulez

“Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor whose career spanned from the avant-garde post-World War II era to the computer age, has died, according to the French culture ministry. He was 90. Boulez famously challenged his peers and his audience to rethink their ideas of sound and harmony. In his music, Boulez often created rich and contrasting layers that were built on musical traditions from Asia and Africa, and on the 12-tone technique pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg — as in his 1955 work, Le Marteau sans maître (The Hammer Without a Master).”

To be honest I am more familiar with his reputation than with his music. Classical music of the 20th century was mostly overshadowed by the music of the Romantic Era and that made it extremely difficult for musicians and composers who tried to create a new vocabulary. Pierre Boulez was one of a number of musicians trying to create a “new music”. Among concert goers “the new music” tends to alienate audiences and it is only though the dedicated efforts of musicians like Pierre Boulez  that the music moves forward and, possibly in time, develop a dedicated audience.

This short YouTube video of his most famous composition LE MARTEAU SANS MAITRE  will give listeners some idea of the challenges they face when exploring the music of Pierre Boulez. This is not your typical symphonic fare.


These two musicians may not be well known and they played music that, by and large, most audience would chose to ignore. However, they have demonstrated that there is more to music than three guitars and a back beat.


Vocal Showcase

Vocal Showcase

This concert at the Knox Presbyterian Church was a great opportunity see and hear what the young performers of the area have to offer. This is possibly the finest small performance venue in the area and one likely to show off their talents to best advantage.  All of these performers have been through the local education system and have come out the graduate end with an unbridled passion for making serious vocal music. Most, if not all, have gone onto post secondary education in music and a number have already obtain their degrees in music. So here they are:412. The entire cast

and this is what they did on this special night in this special place.

Caitlin McCaughey – Caitlin is currently studying opera at the University of Toronto with 104. Catlin McCaugheyDr. Darryl Edwards and during this past summer she attended the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy.  For this concert she performed Quando men vo from Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. For her second piece she chose Ah! Je Veaux vivre from Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. Caitlin plans to pursue a professional career in Opera.

Danielle Nicholson is a lyrical Mezzo-soprano who is 114. Danielle Nicholsoncurrently completing her A.R.C.T. Performance Diploma with the Royal Conservatory of Music  and is planning to begin her BMus in Vocal Performance at either UBC, University of Toronto or McGill.  She chose Must the Winter Come So Soon from Samuel Barber’s Vanessa and Faites-lui-mes aveux  from Charles Gounod’s Faust.

Courtney Green is currently the head teacher 130. Courtney Greenand choreographer at Stages School of Dancing in Golden. Her selections were Breathe from In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leonard Bertein’s Glitter and be Gay from Candide.


Heather Byford. After graduating from Mount Baker 140. Heather ByfordHigh School Heather attended the University of Lethbridge and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Music with a major in Vocal Performance. She has returned to the East Kootenays with the intention of starting her own teaching studio. Heather selected La Mer est plus belle from the music by Claude Debussy and the poem by Paul Verlaine. Her second selection was Cruda Sorte! Gia so per practica from Giachino Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri.

Darren Adams is in his third and final year of the Acting for Stage and Screen Program 150. Darren Adamsat Capilano University in Vancouver. Darren performed Try Me from Jerry Bock’s She Loves Me and Jason Robert Brown’s The Old Red Hills of Home from Parade. He was joined by Courtney Green for a duet performance of Jason Robert Brown’s I’d Give it all to You.

164. Darren and Courtney

Justin Swanson is a third year undergraduate at the McGill University Schulich School 180. Justin Swansonof Music. He has been studying for five years with aspirations of becoming an opera singer. He performed Francesco Paolo Tosti’s Ideale (lyrics by Carmelo Errico). He followed that up with a refreshing performance of the old war horse Mother Machree. He was joined on 202. Danielle and Justinstage by Danielle Nicholson for a duet performance of Come What May from the Baz Luhrmann’s movie Moulin Rouge.

The mezzo-soprano Amanda Weatherall is no stranger to performances in the Knox Presbyterian Church. She is 220. Amanda Weatheralla fourth year vocal performance major at Western University studying under Todd Wieczorek. She has participated in professional development programs offered by the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy and the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera and is looking forward to her first full operatic role, Trisbe, in La Cenerentola. For performance on this evening she chose Charles Gounod’s Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle? and Alma Mahler’s Laue Sommernacht (lyrics by Gustav Falke).

Former Kimberley resident Clara MacLeod is happy to 240. Clara MacLeodback in the area and for her performance this evening she chose A Change in me from Alan Menken’s Beauty and the Beast and How Lovely to be a Woman from Charles Strauss’ Bye Bye Birdie.


Jocelyn Molnar received her Diploma of Music 260. Jocelyn Molnarfrom Capilano University in 2014 and has also received  a significant number of awards and scholarships. For the evening’s performance she chose Frere! Voyez! du gai Soleil from Jules Massenet’s Werther and Ah, Love, but a Day written by Amy Marcy Beach. Amanda Weather and Caitlin McCaughey returned to the stage for a duet performance of Leo Delibes Sous le Dome epais from Lakme. Amanda sang the mezzo-soprano part and Caitlin the soprano part. As always, this was an extremely popular selection. And not be forgotten the accompanists for the evening were Arne Sahlen and Erica Ortlieb (Ross). Arne’s solo performances of We Three Kings and Beethoven’s second movement of the Pathetique were enjoyable instrumental interludes in a night of vocal music.072. Erica and Arne

Here are some more images from the evening’s performances

118. Danielle Nicholson    116. Danielle Nicholson   112. Danielle Nicholson  134. Courtney Green 144. Heather Byford

070. erica Ortlieb (Ross) and Arne Sahlen 184. Justin Swanson  206. Danielle and Justin 160. Darren Adams  224. Amanda Weatherall  050. Elizabeth Ross MC  246. Clara Macleod

This was a wonderful night of music and the organizers should be very happy with the turn out. The venue was full to overflowing.

020. Xmas Candle


A Steal of a Deal – TAFELMUSIK


Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra: The Complete Sony Recordings. Originally released between 1989 and 1998, the recordings of the famed orchestra’s Baroque and Classical repertoire are all being issued together for the first time in a single Sony Classical box set of 47 CDs. The price of the set varied depending when and where it can be purchased. My purchase was through http://www.arkivmusic.com for $65 + exchange rate, shipping etc. It is also available from Amazon.ca for around $85+ taxes – shipping is free. That’s less than $2 a disc – a steal of a deal.

Tafelmusik? Who are they? As described in the liner notes of their recent Sony Boxed Set of recordings they are Canada’s award-winning period instrument orchestra that has become an internationally recognized ensemble. Lauded by Gramophone magazine “as one of the world’s top baroque orchestra’s.” Founded in 1979 by Kenneth Jeanne_group_2011Solway and Susan Graves, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has flourished under the inspired leadership of Jeanne Lamon, who was the Music Director from 1981 to 2014. With its artist-focused mandate and commitment to excellence and innovation , Tafelmusik actively creates new context for the performance of baroque and classical music . The vitality of Tafelmusik’s vision clearly resonates with its audiences : the orchestra performs more than 50 concerts a year in Toronto for a passionate and dedicated following.

At the heart of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is a group of remarkably talented , enthusiastic and dynamic permanent members , each of whom is a specialist in historical practice. Their collaboration results in a delightful transparency , vitality and richness of sound , which has gathered acclaim around the world. The musicians participate on many levels , whether as core members, soloists, or contributors to exceptionally creative programming ideas that bring Tafelmusik concerts to life and make them fully relevent in a 21st-century context. Tafelmusik has become a major force on the international scene, with a rigorous touring schedule that sees the orchestra on the road for seven to twelve weeks each year. Regular tours in Canada the United States and Europe are complemented by ambitious tours to more distant destinations such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

An integral part of Tafelmusik’s success has been its critically acclaimed discography of over 80 baroque and classical albums, which have garnered many national and international awards. Tafelmusik’s long and celebrated collaboration with Opera Atelier has helped establish Toronto as an important North American centre for baroque and classical opera performance. Tafelmusik has also invested much energy in supporting the next generation of period performers though its artist training programming.


Track List
DISC 1-2: Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046-1051
DISC 3: Bach:  Concertos for Violin
DISC 4: W. F. Bach:  Sinfonias, Suite and  Concerto
DISC 5: Beethoven:  Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.2 in B-flat major, Op.19 and No.1 in C major, Op.15
DISC 6: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 4
DISC 7: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 73 “Emperor” & Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
DISC 8: Biber: Harmonia Artificioso – Ariosa
DISC 9: Boccherini: Cellokonzerte / Sinfonien
DISC 10:  Boccherini: Cello Concertos
DISC 11: Corelli: Concerti Grossi Op.6
DISC 12: Gazzaniga: Don Giovanni
DISC 13: Geminiani: Concerti Grossi
DISC 14-15: Gluck: Orfeo E  Euridice
DISC 16: Gluck: Don Juan; Semiramis
DISC 17: Handel: Six Concerti Grossi
DISC 18: Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks; Concerti a due cori
DISC 19: Handel: Water Music, Suite from Il Pastor Fido
DISC 20: Haydn: Symphonies Nos.41, 42 & 43
DISC 21: Haydn: Symphonies Nos.44, 51 & 52
DISC 22: Haydn: Symphonies Hob. I: 45, 46 & 47
DISC 23: Haydn: Symphonies Hob. I: 50, 64 & 65
DISC 24: Haydn: Paris Symphonies Hob. I: 82, 83 & 84
DISC 25: Haydn: Paris Symphonies Hob. I: 85, 86 & 87
DISC 26: Haydn:  Symphonies Hob. I: 88, 89 & 90
DISC 27: Haydn:  Paukenmesse; Salve Regina; Motetto “O coelitum beati”
DISC 28: Haydn: Missa Sancti Bernardi de Offida; Motets
DISC 29: Haydn: Theresa and Nelson Masses
DISC 30: Haydn: Missa “Sunt bona mixta malis”; Salve Regina; Ave Regina
DISC 31-32: Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)
DISC 33: Haydn/Kraft: Cellokonzerte
DISC 34-35: Mozart: 6 Symphonies after Serenades
DISC 36: Mozart: Overtures; Eine kleine Nachtmusik
DISC 37: Mozart: German Dances, K. 509; K. 536/567; K. 571; K. 586
DISC 38: Mozart: Rondo and Horn Concertos
DISC 39: Mozart: Requiem, K. 626
DISC 40: Purcell: Ayres for the Theatre
DISC 41: Schmelzer: Sonatas; Balletti Francesi; Ciaccona
DISC 42: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; Sinfonia “Al Santo Sepolcro”; Concerto Op.3, No.10
DISC 43: Vivaldi: Concertos for Strings
DISC 44: Vivaldi Concerti
DISC 45: Zelenka: Missa Dei Filii/Litaniae Lauretanae
DISC 46: Stamitz, Richter, Haydn, Gluck: Flute Concertos

That is a lot of music. An even though I have had the collection for over six months I am still digesting its riches. Significant number of pieces are familiar (Bach’s Brandenberg Concertos, Haydn’s Symphonies and Cello Concertos, etc) but there is a significant number that are new to me. For instance, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) Harmonia artificioso-ariosa is a wonderfully “wheezy piece” of baroque music that I really enjoy. If his name is unfamiliar to you check out his entry in Wikipedia. Because there is so much material in the collection it is a little unfair to pick out any particular recording for special mention. I am sure every listener will come to his or her own conclusion about their special choices. I can promise you that if the music of the baroque and classical eras are your special interest then this collection will not disappoint. The only down side is that at this price the collection undercuts even the most reasonably priced “live” concert.


PS. For a lucky few, Jeanne Lamond performed with a small chamber group in Christ the Servant Church in Cranbrook some 10+ years ago.


Caitlin McCaughey in Recital at the Knox

CAITLIN McCAUGHEY IN RECITAL AT THE KNOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH   Caitlin is one of a number of young Cranbrook performers who take their music very seriously. To prove the point Caitlin presented the following program at the Knox Church on Monday August 17, 2015 at 7pm.

Caitlin's Program

Here are some images of Caitlin and her accompanist Ellen Ortega performing.134. Caitlin McCaughey202. Ellen Ortega    230. Ellen Ortega  242. Ellen Ortega114. Caitlin McCaughey  116. Caitlin McCaughey  120 Caitlin McCaughey244. Ellen Ortega 144. Caitlin McCaughey    146. Caitlin McCaughey142a. Caitlin McCaughey 152. Caitlin McCaughey 250. Ellen Ortega 040. Caitlin's dress@@@@@@@@@@@@

Amanda Weatherall at the Knox

Amanda Weatherall in recital at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Cranbrook, May 30, 2015, 7pm. This is a benefit performance to raise funds for Amanda’s trip to Italy to study and perform at the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera (AEDO).

130. Amanda WeatherallI find it somewhat incredible that there is such a vibrant community of serious vocal musicians in Cranbrook. Evan Buekert’s music program at the Mount Baker High School may have something to do with it and undoubtedly Chuck Bisset and his choir are also part of the equation. But they are only two factors in a community that seems to have a multitude of singers and organizations involved in vocal music. When you consider the size of the community and the distance from major big centers the depth of the local vocal tradition is extraordinary. It is easy to understand why European educators and audiences have been awe struck when our local choirs tour Europe. A comment that was passed around was “….. and all this talent comes from one small community in the Rocky Mountains of Canada? Unbelievable”. Another aspect of the scene is the focus on Opera and foreign languages. How does one explain Amanda Weatherall’s convincing vocal renditions in German and Italian? Amanda is one of several local singers off to Tuscany in the very near future to participate in a vocal music program. To offset the cost of her adventure Amanda displayed her talents in a recital at the Knox Prebyterian Church last Saturday evening. As Amanda explains….

Amanda Program pg2-ed

Aided by Arne Sahlen on piano and fellow vocalist Mary Pickering, Amanda presented the following program…024. Program

Amanda’s and Mary’s  repeat performance of The Flower Duet from Delibes Lakme was outstanding. They switched it around from past performances by trading parts. In the past Amanda sang the Soprano and Mary sang the Mezzo part. This time Amanda sang the Mezzo part (“real woman sing Alto”) and Mary the Soprano part. Between the vocal performances Arne Sahlen played Chopin’s Prelude in Db Major Op.28 #15, “Raindrop”  and Brahms Intermezzo in A Major Op. 118 #2.

It was an evening of elegant ladies, classy piano music and serious vocal music in probably one of the finest Chamber Music spaces in the Kootenays – the Knox Presbyterian Church … great sights, great lights and a great sound. What more could one want? Here are some images from the evening….

106b. Amanda Weatherall  202a. Mary Pickering and Amanda Weatherall322. Arne Sahlen108. Amanda Weatherall  110. Amanda Weatherall  112. Amanda Weatherall346. Arne Sahlen204b. Mary Pickering and Amanda Weatherall  320. Arne Sahlen   114. Amanda Weatherall    210. Mary Pickering and Amanda Weatherall   132. Amanda Weatherall362a. Arne Sahlen344. Arne Sahlen   502. Cute  342a. Arne Sahlen116a. Amanda Weatherall

As I said, a night of elegant ladies and classy music.


Chamber Music at the Knox

Cellar Notes Cranbrook


108. Jeff and Alex

Press Release: The Cellar Notes Duo of Jeff Faragher, cello, and Alex Nichol, double bass will be presenting a musical offering spanning four centuries and six cultures on Saturday, May 16th at Knox Presbyterian Church starting at 7:30 pm. Admission by donation. Together, the cello and the double bass form the foundation upon which the symphony orchestra’s sound is built. Composers have long known that the brilliance of the cello reinforced with the dark, rich timbre of the bass, creates a potent synergy that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Jeff Faragher holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta and a Master 216. Jeff FaragherDegree in Music Performance from McGill University. In between academic years he pursued supplementary studies with such internationally renowned cellists as Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot and YoYo Ma. Jeff was born and raised in Edmonton where he began his musical studies at the age of three. Following his graduation from McGill University Jeff returned to Edmonton where he undertook studies leading to an MB.A., became the head cello instructor for the Edmonton Public School System, as well as serving as Head of the String Department at Grant McEwan College. Jeff is a prodigious talent with an innovative spirit. Rather than a career in a major orchestra, Jeff has chosen a life in the Kootenays where he is free to explore the full range of teaching, coaching, performing and conducting possibilities. These include the position of Music Director of The Symphony of the Kootenays.  Jeff and his family moved to the Nelson area from Edmonton in 2006. On a 3 acre mountainside property overlooking the West Arm of Kootenay Lake where he and his father built the family home, office and Overtone Studios, of which the 50 seat Cedar Hall is the centerpiece. When he is not performing, coaching, teaching and conducting music, Jeff joins his wife in home-schooling 4 of their 5 children and in enjoying outdoor sports, including coaching ski racing.

316. Alex Nichol
Alex Nichol pursued a meandering career path that passed through a Masters degree in European History before being diverted from academic ambitions into the life of a symphony orchestra musician. Over a period of twenty five years Nichol performed with 060a. the bassthe Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra of Manchester, England, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In the course of his stay in England , he purchased the fine, old Italian bass that has been his musical companion for 45 years. In the early ’80’s Nichol’s interest in wine and wine-making led to his writing the first book on the B.C. wine industry entitled Wine and Vines of British Columbia in 1983. Six years later, in 1989 he and his family moved to Naramata in the Okanagan, planted vines, made wine and opened for business as Nichol Vineyard Winery in 1993.With retirement in 2006, Nichol’s focus has returned to music-making. He is currently the Principal Bass of the Symphony of the Kootenays and performs as an extra musician with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

040. The Program

Obviously the program, mostly transcriptions, focused on the bottom end of the sonic spectrum. After all, it is hard to go any further down into the musical basement  than the double bass. It is a program of miniatures mostly from the early classical repertoire. The only concessions to modernity were the five Magyar dances of Bela Bartok  and Serge Prokofieff’s Fairy Tales. True to the promise of cultural diversity and to spice things up they performed a couple of Tangos by F. Canaro and C.V.G Flores.

114. Jeff and Alex   218. Jeff Faragher302. Alex Nichol


Microsoft Word - LaCafCranbrook-May2015.docx

In my late teens my first encounter with Classical Chamber music was facilitated by  a Sunday afternoon TV show featuring a string quartet probably playing the music of  Beethoven. I was not impressed – I would have rather been down on the beach surfing and, after all, it didn’t sound like any thing I was used to used to at the the time.That was not the end of it of course. Over the years I became more familiar with many different musical styles and eventually developed a taste for Chamber music. In more recent years the La Cafamore Ensemble from Nelson has expanded my chamber music universe with their always innovative programs at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Cranbrook. Over the past half dozen years the ensemble has taken to the stage in various configurations including String Quartet, Trios, Quintets and at times augmented with pre-recorded tape tracks, sound effects and percussion. We have been treated to some extraordinary music, including George Crumb’s Black Angels and Steve Reich’s Different Trains. This was  in addition to the more standard items in the classical repertoire. This most recent performance had Carolyn Cameron on piano, Angela Snyder on violin and Alexis Moore on viola. The program featured compositions by female composers from the early to the late Romantic era. As usual for a La Cafamore concert there was some unknown musical gems. The English composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) composition Dumka written in 1941 included elements of mid-twentieth century music and European folk styles. Amy Cheney Beach (1867-1946), an American musician by birth and by style wrote Trio Op.11 in a late Romantic style with very distinctive and unmistakable American elements. The last composition of the evening was by the better known Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847). It was the four part Trio Op.11.

Here are some images from the concert:

533a. La Cafamore200. Angela and Carolyn   302. Angela Snyder     232. Carolyn Cameron    410a. Alexis More 314b. Angela Snyder_edited-1416b. Alexis More_edited-1                  100. Dumka   234c. Carolyn Cameron_edited-1424d. Alexis More212a. Carolyn Cameron080. Embroidery


Here is a special YouTube treat of a student performance of Rebecca Clarke’s Dumka

and for your listening pleasure – Amy Beach: Variations on Balkan Themes, op. 60 (Virginia Eskin, pianist).


Classic Greatness – SOTK Rehearsal

6874133 Symphony of the Kootenays Susan Gould TB 03.26


  • Barber of Seville – Giaochino Rossini (1792-1868)
  • Piano Concerto in A min (Op.54) – Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
  • Symphony No.7 – Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Here are some images from the rehearsal:

Jeff Faragher   Robin Clegg  432a.  Susan Gould    Susan Gould Jared Zimmer    Jeremy Van Dieman    Bassoons Jeff Faragher  Ben Smith   Robin Clegg and Eve Sperling   430. Bottom Dwellers       Arne SatanoveSusan Gould Shirley Wright    Matt Weber    Robin Clegg             Susan Gould    Susan Gould   Susan Gould 436    Mat Weber Jeff Faragher  550.   Matt Weber Brass   Catherine MacKinnon Nicola Everton                   Ruth SawatskyBack Curtain



YouTube Pick (#4) – Is it Fair?

If you are a mere mortal, male and, despite the fact that you are a virtuoso, I am sorry to tell you that you don’t stand a chance. It seems like the Classical Music stage belongs to the fairer sex. Over recent years there have been a number of stunningly good looking EvelynGlennie1and talented classical musicians that are impossible to ignore. First on the list is the  deaf (yes, I said deaf) percussionist Evelyn Glennie who has virtually invented the possibility of a career as a classical solo percussionist. This lady often performs barefoot on stage so that she can “hear” the orchestra. How is that possible? Then there is the brilliant Brazilian Guitarist Badi Assad - Brazilian GuitaristBadi Assad who has successfully overshadowed her famous classical guitar duo  brothers. The classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, who despite her good looks Sharon Isbin, Guitaristis probably the premier classical guitarist of her generation. Her unbelievable technical command of the instrument and her brilliant interpretations of the repertoire (new and old) sets her apart from her contemporary colleagues. New on the list of stunning performers is the trumpet player Alison Balsom. When I first stumbled on a review of the CD SOUND THE TRUMPET  (Warner Classics #40329) featuring this lady with Trevor Pinnock  it prompted me to do a search on You Tube for a performance of the music. On viewing the video I got a serious case of goosebumps and, of course, I have since ordered the CD. So here is the latest classical star and a YouTube video of the music.

Alison Balsom   Alison Balsom

I thought it would be illegal to look that good and sound so great.


Octagon at the Royal Alexandra Hall

Octagon poster

When I go to a jazz performance the thought that always crosses my mind is “How do they do that?”. Apart from their instruments the only thing they seem to have on hand is maybe a memorized melody and a lead sheet with some indication of the chord progression. When I go to a chamber music concert a different thought crosses my mind  … “I know how they do it but how do they do it with such control and ellegant precision?”. Of course they have the composer’s score with lots of detail about the notes to be played, when to played and even symbols on how to be played. Of course there is more to it than that.  Still, somewhat like my response to a jazz performance a chamber music performance  leaves me with a sense of awe. It’s some form of magic and the musicians are the magicians.


The magic was very much in evidence at  Octagon’s performance at the Royal Alexandra Hall on Wednesday night. The musicians were the magicians and the hall added an element that would be difficult to find in another venue. It was perfect match. A world class chamber music ensemble, the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (Septet, Opus 20), the music of Franz Schubert (Octet, Opus 166) and a performance venue that probably had a lot in common with the original venues in Austria when the music was composed in the early 1800’s. From pin drop soft to boisterous bellowing every nuance of the music was there to be savored. My only complaints, and they are very, very minor are that the lighting in the hall is very poor, rather gloomy, one would say and a slightly raised performance area would have improved the sight lines. Because of the nature of the music and the available light it was not appropriate to take photos during the performance. However, during the sound check and the brief rehearsal I managed to document some of the action.

 Mark Fewer and Rivka Golani      Rachel Mercer and Joe Phillips Mark Fewer  Keith, Kathleen and James     Kenneth MacDonald Joe Phillips    Rachel Mercer     Joe Phillips Martin Beaver, Mark Fewer and Rivka Golani   James Campbell

The members of OCTAGON are:

  • Mark Fewer – Violin
  • Martin Beaver – Violin
  • James Campbell – clarinet
  • Joseph Phillips – Bass
  • Rivka Golani – Viola
  • Kenneth MacDonald – French Horn
  • Kathleen McLean – Bassoon
  • Rachel Mercer – Cello

 Mark Fewer


Here is a little YouTube video treat of a performance of two movements of the Beethoven Septet by The New Israel ensemble. It is not OCTAGON but we can’t have everything.