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Romantic Muses Consortium Aurora Borealis

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THUNDER BAY, ON  ---  November 15, 2010  ---  Consortium Aurora Borealis has a reputation for providing some truly memorable concerts for Thunder Bay audiences. The Chopin-Schumann Anniversary concert (They both would have celebrated their 200th birthday this year) was  played by pianists Heather Morrison and Derek Oger, and clarinettist Peter Shackelton.  The performers, the music and perhaps even the weather outside seemed to be the right combination to get people coming to the concert in record numbers.

Once inside, the audience was treated to a feast of romantic piano works beginning with Frederik Chopin’s “Prelude in C# minor” beautifully played by Heather Morrison.  She then followed the music with some tasteful and relaxed and definitely humorous readings from the period. I found her readings added insight and variety to the programme and more importantly added a human element to the programme. 

When working on the farm out west I picked up the saying “An expert is somebody from out of town”. Ken MorrisonAfter listening to the programme I was thinking it is time to leave the farmer standing in his field! The entire performance was polished and well delivered. Derek Oger played from memory, which is something that the folks from out of town do a lot. I am not sure you could find a significantly better clarinettist than Peter Shackelton without having to go a long ways out of town. The Adagio of Ignaz Pleyel’s Clarinet Concerto No.1 in B-flat was the sort of addition to the programme that provided not only variety but a special supercharged romantic atmosphere. Similarly the Schuman Fantasy for piano and clarinet left the audience wanting more.

The concert was dedicated to the memory of the late Ken Morrison, a man who worked tirelessly for things musical in Thunder Bay. His life-long pursuit of cultural goals has helped create a vibrant artistic community in Thunder Bay.

There is another star in this show that deserves mentioning. Over the summer and into the fall Paul Victor has been working on the church’s delightful Steinway Model M piano. The work that he did restored the piano to recital ready condition. I suspect there will be many more piano based concerts at this venue in the future.

All good birthday parties have a birthday cake and for the Schumann-Chopin Anniversary, Consortium served up a cake worthy of two hundred years of fine music. Here Vice President Michelle Zapf-Belanger joins President Jaro Kotalik and board member Lak Rappon in the official cutting of the cake.

The cake provided the audience with a chance to socialize and greet friends old and new. Combined with the collegial atmosphere of the concert exercises such as this build audience support. I suspect there will be more opportunities for audiences to share the Consortium experience in the future.

Consortium will return to its glory days of Elizabethan musical programming at its next concert, on Saturday, November 20, with some of the most delightful works of late 16th-century England. A mix of instrumental ensemble music based on popular song-and-dance tunes of the day, lyrical solo ayres, and  madrigals that range from mournful to merry, with some light readings, will transport you to the days of Good Queen Bess.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com

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