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SYKE At the top of their game


THUNDER BAY ON  ----   March 6, 2012  ---SYKE is a concert series affiliated with the Canadian Soumi Foundation, SYKEbased in Thunder Bay. With a focus on Scandinavian and Russian repertoire, SYKE offers to its North American audience masterworks not usually heard, but are recognised as masterworks in their home country.

I could not state the purpose of SYKE better than it was printed in the programme so I simply copied the above paragraph here.
Yes Thunder Bay now has a new concert series. I know that there were others in the past but this concert was a fully professional production carrying an admission price to match. The cost of $20.00 however is reasonable considering I used to travel out of town simply to listen to this type of music live. My idea of heaven is a week at the Banff String Quartet competitions or perhaps the spring music festivals in Ottawa. Now we have a little bit of this taking root right here in our city. Erik Johannes Riekko; Artistic Director of the new series is hoping to present four or perhaps five concerts next season.

The musicians, Evgueni Tchougounov pianist, Catherine Jillings viola, Thomas Cosbey violin, Michelle Zapf-Bélanger violin and cellist Anthony Bacon brilliantly played music by Rachmannioff, a quartet by Sibelius, and closed with the complex and well written piano quintet by Shostakovich. By the sounds of the programme it fits in well with the mandate of SKYE.

The musicians played together very well, One thing I liked about my second row seat at Hilldale Lutheran Church is I was close enough to see the inner-workings of the chamber music.  Playing chamber music without a conductor requires a whole different discipline than performing with a conductor. A lot of fine details need to be worked out between the musicians before the music is performed. The bulk of the preparation for this concert was done within the last four weeks. These musicians play with other professional players on a routine basis and they are very knowledgeable when it comes to playing music for their chosen instrument. That is perhaps why they sound very much like a group who has been playing together for a very long time.

We enjoy a growing company of very talented musicians in the city, most employed by the TBSO and others through the Lakehead University Music Department. Many of these players are looking for more opportunities to play music, and their presence in the SKYE series has given the series a boost.

Well putting a programme together in four weeks is a lot of work, and I noticed the musicians particularly focused on the performance of the Sibelius Quartet as well as the relief at the successful conclusion. I really enjoyed the music of Shostakovich. As I become older I find his music bears repeated listening he manages to pack so many musical ideas into a little space. I loved the humour of the 3rd movement, the allegretto.

We will see more of these musicians playing outside of their normal venues. I know them and they play mostly for the passion of playing good music in good company. This mindset also is the same one that produces the best concerts to listen to. Chamber music brings out the very best of the musicians on stage. You are all alone on your part and the ice is thin should you falter. I feel that composers put as much effort in writing a quartet as they do a symphony. They would not want to disappoint Beethoven who like Haydn set the bar high for all those who followed. Great work Erik I hope next season is as good as this last concert!

Other events you might be interested in this week, TBSO at Hilldale Lutheran Tuesday night at 8:00 pm, New Music North is playing at the Jean McNulty Recital hall at LU. Also on Tuesday but at 12:30 LUMINA concert series presents Marie-Claude Tardif, bass; Katie Stevens, violin in the Jean McNulty Recital Hall at LU. Looking ahead the Fauré Requiem will be performed on April 4th at St. Paul’s Anglican on Ridgeway Street. The Lakehead Vocal Ensembles and the Rafiki Youth Choir will be directed by Dean Jobin-Bevans. It looks like there will be plenty of concerts to attend before it is time to open up the summer cabin.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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