Turning Point's Under the Microscope - a Modulus Operandi in Sonic StyleSaturday, November 05, 2016
|Marc Destrubé, Ariel Barnes, Jane Hayes, Tom Shorthouse, Ingrid Chiang & AK Coope November 5 2016|
The tragedy of being a fan of music, dance and theatre is that I cannot read music anymore, I cannot dance and I could never act as I cannot memorize.
That means that when I go to performance of dance, theatre or music I feel I am in the periphery. I am an outsider looking in. In music, all those accomplished musicians of our city share something similar to all the secret handshakes of Masons. I believe that musicians with that extra ultra-human ability to read music are the new Masons. They represent excellence in a world surrounded by mediocrity.
The only way to overcome this alienation is to get to know musicians and to frequent their concerts until they become friends. I have no idea on how unique Vancouver may be in the ability of any concert goer to approach musicians after a concert with ease. But approachable they all are. Even that left hand door (by the front) at the Orpheum is always easy to open to talk to VSO performers after a concert. My eldest daughter Ale (when she was a little girl) opened the door and had a long chat and a hug backstage with Andrés Segovia.
While I feel that I share with my friend violinist MarcDestrubé (besides having shared a meal of ostrich and Sancerre) is the action of putting on our trousers one leg at a time. In every other way Destrubé is in another dimension of time and space. And by space I can add that with all his international teaching and being the leader of the Smithsonian-based Axelrod Quartet Destrubé has enough air line points to fly to Jupiter and back.
How is it possible that within a week Destrubé played in his baroque group La Modestine the likes of Jean-Fery Rebel, Elisabeth-ClaudeJaquet de la Guerre and Marin Marais (all 17th century composers) and last night at the Modulus Festival – Under the Microscope (a collaboration of Music on Main with the Turning Point Ensemble) Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) and Luciano Berio (1925-2003)?
|David Brown & Jeremy Berkman|
Part of the explanation I find in watching and listening to VSO (and Turning Point Ensemble) bassist David Brown play with Turning Point Ensemble trombonist (and the Vancouver Opera Orchestra) Jeremy Berkman Dubravko Pajalic's (1955-) Passacaglia on an A , von Zemlinsky theme (composed this year!) together. You would think that the fine bassist that Brown is, he would settle to finish his long career with his upright bass at the Vancouver Symphony. But no! There he was playing a six-string electric bass (my guess is that since it had frets that would make that instrument a bass guitar) surrounding himself with all sorts of electronics with digital loops and other effects that kept me watching the choreography of his feet pressing on buttons and switches. In fact the clicking of the switches did not bother me in the least as the noise/sound was simply the third instrument.
What Turning Point Ensemble is all about is of the inability of very good local musicians to stay satisfied with what they do. They all want more and they want to expand their repertoire. They want to explore the usually almost unknown not quite out of the loop music of the 20th century with new music of this century.
Being present as part of the audience and watching these musicians communicate with each other (I am jealous!) with smile on their faces and passion in their playing is extraordinary.
My eldest daughter Hilary has remarked that listening to this new or newish music can be hard on ears not accustomed to it is difficult but she has also asserted that watching it being performed makes all the difference.
And that is exactly what David Pay’s Music on Main and Turning Point Ensemble are doing. They are making music that we don’t usually listen to or know about available to our ears (and very important) to our eyes. If musicians like David Brown and Marc Destrubé will not rest on their laurels and seek new things there is no reason why we as an audience cannot do that, too.
The Under the Microscope program was surprising in its variety and the fact that most of it was not in the least serious. There was a lot of humour injected into it in many of the works. Imagine a Dog Salmon (a Chum salmon called that because at maturity it sort of develops a muzzle like front) doing what a salmon does in the water all in four minutes and played by David Owen’s English horn. The work composed by Turning Point Ensemble’s Artistic Director Owen Underhill (a gentle sort of man and almost self-efacing to my eyes)had that kind of humour. And when was the last time you heard an English horn solo?
|Owen Underhill and Lauri Stallings|
I was also much impressed by trumpet player Marcus Goddard’s (a young man) Solus (2016) for trumpet and digital loop. Sitting next to choreographer Anthony Morgan we agreed that the work would be ideal for a dance performance.
And I cannot stop here without mentioning that I am a fan of pianist Jane Hays and that in Bohuslav Martinu’s (1890-1959) La Revue de cuisine (1921) she did indeed prove that the piano is an instrument of percussion.