A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

An Intimate Concert With Robert Louis Stevenson's Donkey
Friday, October 28, 2016




Robert Louis Stevenson, the consumptive young Scottish writer who later became famous for “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped”, walked through the Cévennes with his donkey Modestine in the autumn of 1878.

Although he was a sociable soul, he preferred to walk alone, because “you must have your own pace, and neither trot alongside a champion walker, nor mince in time with a girl”, and in order to “surrender himself to that fine intoxication that comes from much motion in the open air, that begins in a sort of dazzle and sluggishness in the brain, and ends in a peace that passes comprehension”.
 Walking in France




At age 74 I find that I am attracted to intimate dance, intimate music, small intimate novels, and plays that feature one or very few actors. The idea of going to a large performance at the Orpheum or the Chan Centre of the Arts is becoming anathema to my soul.


For many years Vancouverites have complained about our dearth of venues for performance. I beg to differ and I wrote this. And yet in this 21st century the idea of a large symphony orchestra is becoming financially untenable. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra may be one of the few (I believe) that has hired musicians full-time and not on contract so they may be beneficiaries of coveted dental plans.

Of late I wonder about such venues as the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and its neighbouring Vancouver Playhouse. How often in one year do they have people warming the seats? With the Playhouse Theatre Company gone what else happens at the Playhouse? I have been to Arts Umbrella Dance Company finales and to smallish baroque group concerts sponsored by Early MusicVancouver.

The Turning Point Ensemble plays in the smallish (but slightly claustrophobic) venue in Simon Fraser's downtown campus. The concerts feature the avant-garde and works rarely played in Vancouver like Duke Ellington's symphonic works. This year how about Frank Zappa and Edgar Varese?

A very small venue is the Gold Saucer Studio in the Dominion Building.

On Seymour Street right next to the Orpheum is the Orpheum Annex and Pyatt Hall. Both offer the latest in acoustics in a compact size. I am attending one concert this coming Saturday at the Annex. Read about the program here.

But dear to my heart is the idea of going to a small church, not far from my Kitsilano home. In today’s case it is La Modestine at St. Helen’s Anglican Church featuring the sometimes trio and sometimes quartet La Modestine. The performers as I wrote her are absolutely first class. I find it paradoxical that they have chosen as a name Robert Louis Stevenson’s donkey Modestine from one of his first works, Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes. From the above citation of the book that I found here, it says that Stevenson while sociable preferred to walk alone (or with a donkey). It is paradoxical because La Modestine’s musicians are particularly attracted to the idea of the fun of performing together.

But I think I understand. It is a small group playing in small venues. We who are there will enjoy a beautiful quiet intimacy in a church. As most of us know churches have always been venues for good music. Bach and Vivaldi would certainly agree with us. This is the program for tomorrow at St. Helen’s: (Tickets here)


Friday October 28th, 7:30pm
Müzewest Concerts
St Helen's Anglican Church, Vancouver (4405 West 8th Ave)

French & German instrumental music from the early baroque

Jean-Fery Rebel
Violin sonata in A+                                                                     

P.H. Erlebach
Sonata in D+ for violin and viola da gamba                                     

Jacques Duphly

'La Forqueray' (Troisième Livre, 1758) - harpsichord solo                                                                                 

Dieterich Buxtehude
Sonata in a minor Bux WV272 for violin                                    
and viola da gamba

Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre
Sonata No. 2 in D major (from Sonates pour le violon et pour le clavecin 1707)

Marin Marais
Sonnerie de Ste. Genevieve du Mont                                                    
de Paris



     

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4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16