THUNDER BAY, ON ----- April 2, 2011 ---- On Saturday March 12th Consortium Aurora Borealis of Thunder Bay, concluded their 32nd concert season. I have been involved with this organization for most of its 32 seasons in one capacity or another ,this season stands out as one of the best. Consortium Aurora Borealis has made the season interesting by using creative programming. The Saturday March 12th concert is a fine example programming music for one, two three and four flutes.
It was a special occasion for the musicians since it is not very often that a whole concert is dedicated to their instrument. In recent years Consortium and other presenters in the city have brought in some great string quartets, but no one has ever done the same for flute players, until now that is. The programme opened with Rob Van Wyck playing Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx (1913) for solo flute. A very modern piece for those used to attending Consortiums baroque and early music concerts. Other composers on the programme are well known to flute players, but virtually unheard of by the rest of the concert going public. J.J. Quantz (1697-1773) was a baroque master of the flute. In addition to writing music for the transverse flute her also wrote treatises about playing music. One such book The Art of Playing the Flute, was required reading for me for a course I took with Doris Dungan many years ago at Lakehead University. What he had to say about playing the flute applies to all instruments, it takes a tireless dedicated commitment to a life in music to truly master the instrument. It was less a book about playing technique as it was the first writing of what it took to become a professional musician. So naturally if you doing a flutefest then Quantz must be on the program.
Wilhelm Friedman Bach (1719-1784) the talented son of J.S. Bach was gifted in many ways as a musician but could never seem to make a music career work well for him. Some of his music was very innovative and his flute duets are popular pieces amongst professional flute players. Franz Doppler is another seldom heard musician but his contribution to the world of flute performance was immense. He did some acoustic studies of the old wooden transverse flute of Quantz’s time and revised it to the silvery metal tube with a key system that we would recognize today as the modern flute. Doppler is thus another composer to be included on the program.
Heather Morrison used the Steinway of St. Paul’s to accompany Doris Dungan in Theobald Böhm’s Grand Polonaise in D+. A little palm court or serenade music with flute was very popular salon music during the romantic period as this piece suggests.
There are not many composers of flute quartets, but Friedrich Kuhlau wrote one as accomplishes as any string quartet. Nancy Hennen (now living in Brandon) and local flute players Margaret Hawkins, Doris Dungan and Robert Van Wyck played this piece with a level of dedication that would have made Joachim Quantz proud.
So now the season is done, and the Board of Consortium Aurora Borealis is figuring out how we will present our 33rd season. There will be more innovative programming and not all of it will be early music. The September 24th concert will feature Romantic Chamber music with local pianists Heather Morrison, Evgueni Tchougounov piano, Jennifer Bryan violin and Anthony Bacon cello. Look for music for four hands by Mozart and Brahms, and the wonderful Brahms cello sonata in E minor. Last season’s Romantic muses concert presented Consortium with its best house of the season, its great music played by great musicians.
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com