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Händel Organ Concerto a Rare Treat


THUNDER BAY,  ON  ---  October 18, 2009  ---  The Classical Music scene is in full swing. Consortium Handel Concerto.This Saturday city residents had their second opportunity to come and hear a Consortium Aurora Borealis Concert at St. Paul’s United Church.

Elizabeth Ganiatsos the group’s music director was on hand for the evening festivities celebrating the music of Georg Händel, and Franz Joseph Haydn. The musicians of the ensemble all drawn from the ranks of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra put on an excellent evening of music. As an organist myself I was delighted to hear once again Händel’s concert for orchestra and strings in F+. There are not that many concertos in the repertoire for organ and a small group of strings, and this piece is an excellent primer for an organist who would like to move on to literature for organ and strings. I liked the slow movement best. The pastoral setting of this movement put me in a Christmas mood well before the chain stores have tried to do so.

Consortium  Thomas CosebyThe second piece that caught my attention was Franz Joseph Haydn’s violin concerto in C+. Typical of many early classical and late baroque concertos the orchestral parts are quite approachable by skilled players. The solo part requires a player of exceptional skill. Thomas Cosbey performance of this Concerto was serious business for him and he quickly demonstrated why he is concert master of the TBSO. To play a concerto like this the performer not only must convince the audience by playing well, they must also lead the ensemble. The members of this ensemble are all members of a close knit professional community, and they work together and support one another in their music. The 110% effort by all members made this performance a memorable one. Bravo!

The program opened up with Elizabeth playing some solo pieces for organ. Now that the large Blanchet harpsichord is not available to the Consortium, we can expect to hear more of the great Casavant sanctuary organ of St. Paul’s. The pipe organ is not only an original continuo instrument (plays the same role as a harpsichord in early music) it is a very capable recital instrument. Elizabeth opened with a transcription for organ of the Overture to Amadigi. This rare Händel opera premiered in Canada in 2003 at the University of Western Ontario. My question is why would you play a transcription when there are string players on hand?

Elizabeth usually saves the best till last in her programming. In this case it would be Doris Dungan playing Johann Michael Haydn’s flute concerto in D+. I wasn’t present for this in the concert but heard some of the practice. The lively Allegro Assai the closing movement of the concerto would provide a great virtuosic ending to a fine night of music making.

Members of the ensemble were, Elizabeth Ganiatsos organist and director, Thomas Cosbey solo violin, Doris Dungan solo flute, Michelle Zapf-Bélanger and Jennifer Bryan violins, Patrick Horn viola, Marc Palmquist cello, and Martin Blanchet bass.

Consortium concerts continue to be a prime ticket for music lovers in Thunder Bay. This is partly due to the fact that admission is by donation. If you write a cheque to the Consortium for $20.00 you can get a tax receipt for your effort, and in this way the consortium does well and you will save a little on your taxes next spring. The Consortium’s next concert will be Saturday November 21st at 8:00 pm at St. Paul’s United Church. The program will feature music by Henry Purcell and will feature Merry Klazek on trumpet, a vocal ensemble lead by Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans and so much more. For all the details go to

Bert Rowson
Arts editor:

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