Notes Of CompassionSunday, September 24, 2006
When I looked at my program of Notes of Compassion ( a volunteer collective of musicians from the VSO who played, without a conductor, yesterday as a benefit for Health Arts Society at Vancouver's George Pearson Centre), I knew I was going to need some Kleenex. After all there was Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune smack in the middle of the program! As I watched the over 200 concert goers, some on wheelchairs and with respirators, I noticed their smiles and I cried. But I wasn't prepared to cry twice and this is what I did when I listened to Kurt Attenberg's (worked for the Swedish patent office a job description that he shared with Albert Einstein who held the same job in Bern) Suite for Violin, Viola, and Strings, Op.19, No1. The violist, Andrew Brown explained how this suite inspired him as a young man to become a musician. The suite was lovely. Before the "crying pieces" I was jolted into attention by Frederick Shipizky's Aurora Fanfare which featured the VSO Brass Quintet. The wake up call that this was was followed by a spirited (as in nice and quick which is how I like it) performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. Notes of Compassion also played a very loud (that's how I like it!) couple of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances (Op. 46, No.s 1 and 8) and Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E Flat Major.
It was the Haydn Concerto that made me think that the first time I had ever heard it live was with a conductor (a not yet Sir, Eliot Gardiner) and trumpet player Martin Berinbaum at the Orpheum with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra (as it was called then) perhaps in 1982 as my original program has no date. The version I heard yesterday featured a very warm but confident Larry Knopp. The folks at CBC Radio have a fondness for jolting me out of bed at 6:30 with this concerto. But mid afternoon it was perfect. I wonder what violinist Karen Gerbrecht( seen here with Larry Knopp, left, Rebecca Whitling violin, and Andrew Brown, right, viola) might have thought of Knopp's performance as her father Jerold Gerbrecht was the principal trumpet player for the VSO for many years. If it had not been for a timely communication from Rebecca Whitling, my non readhead ( Karen is a redhead!) favourite VSO violinist I would have never known about the concert.
A resident "spy" of the George Pearson Centre, and friend of mine, Maxine told me that the whole concert came together thanks to the persuasive influence of David Lemon who made a very short introductory speech. I noticed that Christopher Gaze was there and suddenly the perfect concert became a 99% one. Perfection would have been his interpretation (I have heard Gaze say it many times and I hope to hear it many more times!) of the St Crispin Day's Speech from William Shakespeare's Henry V. When I left for home there was one line from that speech that resonated in my head:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
Somehow all who attended that concert could repeat those lines.