Bach and Bing At The ChanWednesday, December 20, 2006
Abraham Rogatnick (a Harvard architect) Graham Walker (designer and responsible for the sineage at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC) and I went to an Early Music Vancouver concert, The Bach Cantata Projects: Festive Cantatas for Christmas. The musicians were my very favourite Pacific Baroque Orchestra plus guests including the scrumptious Australian violinist LucindaMoon. The featured solo vocalists were Tyler Duncan, baritone, Colin Balzer, tenor, Laura Pudwell, alto and Suzie LeBlanc soprano.
Not known by many is that the cheapest seats in this cavernous house are to be had at the front five rows. For this concert our third row CC seats were perfect. We could see and hear the singers as well as that huge instrument with such a gentle sound, Ray Nurse's theorbo. Also from our vantage point (audience, right) we could hear the continuo section including Christina Mahler's stupendous sounding cello and violoncello piccolo.
Unfortunately from where we were sitting I also had a clear view of Lucinda Moon sitting, front row, as concertmaster (Marc Destrubé was the musical director). I was undecided if I should concentrate on Moon's eyes or that mouth of hers. While some would think that an Australian accent would spoil the sensuous mouth I would beg to differ. For my sanity I decided to concentrate on other things; to be precise, on one man, Bing Thom.
Bing Thom is the architect whose design became the Chan Centre. In my past I have photographed this cheerful man many times and I have come to admire his intelligence on so many things.
My friend, urban affairs writer, Sean Rossiter and I both agree that Bing Thom should be drafted (American style) and made city mayor. I think ex city councilor Gordon Price would agree.
In one of my conversations with Thom he told me he taught (when under his wing) architect Arthur Erickson how to meditate. Thom's views on how to make our city a liveable city seem to coincide with both Arthur Erickson's and Gordon Price's.
While Bing Thom is very alive and well I am including here a photograph (he calls it his Mao swimming in the Yangtze) I took of Thom on his back in the pool of one of the houses he built in Vancouver's Southlands district. The colours are all because the photographic paper was improperly fixed. Going into my files enables me to find such hidden and accidental treasures.
During the intermission Abraham likes to mingle with the crowds to talk to all his friends and his many ex-students from his UBC School of Architecture days. Graham and I quickly returned to our seats. The crowds were too big. I told Abraham, when he returned, that Bing Thom had failed in his design of the lobby. It simply is too narrow. Abraham was adamant in his disagreement saying that the solution was an easy one. Lineups to the bar should be parallel to the bar. That would solve everything.
The Chan might be new in comparison to my beloved St James'Anglican but it already has ghosts of what will soon be a Christmas past. !That downunder violinist!