Hewitt, Maisky and Vienna Choir Boys: Chamberfest expands concert series to 10 in 25th season

The Vienna Boys Choir

Summer isn’t over but the Chamberfest folks are already thinking about the fall.

They have announced the biggest and consequently most diverse lineup ever in the upcoming fall and winter concert series. In all there will 10 concerts featuring musicians from Spain, Israel, Norway, Austria, the United Kingdom and Canada

The expanded lineup will present some well-known names such as the Vienna Boys Choir, The New Orford String Quartet and the next two installments of Angela Hewitt’s Bach Odyssey.

There will also be an appearance by an octet from one of the more famous chamber orchestras anywhere, London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; all along with the previously announced Christmas concert featuring the King’s Singers. 

It’s all part of the year-long celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary. Included in this concert lineup is a brand new work by the composer Jeffrey Ryan called Scar Tissue. It will feature the vocal group Nordic Voices, the Gryphon Trio and a text by the Canadian writer Michael Redhill.

For Roman Borys, artistic director of Chamberfest, this piece will also honour 25 years of the Gryphons which includes Borys on cello, Jamie Parker on piano and Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin. 

The festival has always been interested in works for choral voices and has commissioned pieces in the past. And Borys was looking for something new to mark the 25th.

“We came across the Nordic Voices and a long time collaborator of ours, Jeff Ryan had just heard them when they were in Vancouver.” It was a neat confluence. Borys was looking for a vocal group to work with. The Nordic Voices fit the bill. They focus on early music and contemporary music.

At the same time Borys was working up ideas with a scientist named Glenn Prestwich who has a passion for music. He even commissions new works that are inspired by new science. Borys decided to combine these two initiatives and the result is Scar Tissue with music by Ryan. Turns out the scientist Borys was working with is a world leader in developing compounds that dissolve the tissue that can form after an operation or an injury.

“We started exploring that idea and it’s a great metaphor” and the pieces started to fall into place with Ryan and Nordic Voices. The last piece of the puzzle was Redhill.

“I made a proposal to Michael whom I have known since we were teenagers.” And Redhill accepted. and has produced a poetic take on what scar tissue means to him. The result is a piece that is 40 minutes long and in nine parts.

This is the first of an ongoing collaboration with Nordic Voices who will commission a Norwegian composer to create something for the Gryphons. The trio will head to Oslo, Norway, in the fall to workshop Scar Tissue with Nordic Voices with the premiere next February.

After 25 years, the Gryphons have employed patience, good humour and a deep sense of respect for each other to stay together. “Luck is also part of it. Our lives have settled in a particular way that we are all in the same city. We have projects that keep us stimulated. We have many places to go. And we are increasingly thinking about and being asked to weigh in on what future generations need including mentorship.”

All this keeps the Trio hard at work, he said.

The group started when a previous trio ended. Annalee Patipatanakoon and Borys had played together in that venture and continued when Jamie Parker joined. Patipatanakoon and Borys eventually married after “a 14-year courtship,” he said.

“We relish the opportunity to play great repertoire and we have been around long enough that there is an ease with which we can communicate with each other and basically speak to each other. That’s exciting and very rewarding,” he said.

Tickets for the concert series go on sale Aug. 2. For information, please see chamberfest.com. 

Here’s the full lineup. All concerts are in Dominion-Chalmers United Church unless indicated.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Ensemble (Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m.)

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble will perform Schubert’s Octet for strings and winds. “It is not heard very often,” Borys said. “It’s an hour long and a tremendous combination of strings and woodwinds. But the length of it means it is rarely performed.” 

Angela Hewitt: Bach Odyssey VII (Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.)

Hewitt will play Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier.

Photo: Sian Richards

New Orford String Quartet (Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Canada)

The New Orford’s will perform Haydn’s Seven Last Words and George Crumb’s Black Angels in the same concert. “This is a fascinating juxtaposition of two works. The Crumb Black Angels is one of the great 20th century works for string quartet. And we are always looking for an opportunity to present any work by Haydn.” 

Silver and Gold (Dec. 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m.) 

The King’s Singers join with Jean-Sébastien Vallée and the Ottawa Choral Society.

Angela Hewitt: Bach Odyssey VIII (Jan. 18, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.)

This time Hewitt will play the improvisational toccatas including the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor.

Gryphon Trio with Nordic Voices (Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m.) 

The Gryphons join forces with Scandinavia’s Nordic Voices, for a program that includes Gesualdo, Victoria, and Ravel. They will also premiere a new work by Jeffrey Ryan called Scar Tissue with text by Giller Prize winner Michael Redhill. (See more above).

Romero Guitar Quartet (Feb.  16 at 7:30 p.m.)

The Romeros are considered the “royal family of guitar” by the New York Times. 

Cuarteto Casals (March 4 at 7:30 p.m.)

The Catalan string quartet will make their Chamberfest debut with pieces by Haydn, Bartók and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in F Minor. They belong to a new high level of playing talent coming out of Spain at present, Borys said.

Vienna Boys Choir (April 7 at 4 p.m.)

The 25 choristers, between the ages of nine and 14, will sing a program built around the Motet and Lieder. 

Mischa Maisky (May 8 at 7:30 p.m.)

Cellist Mischa Maisky and his daughter, pianist Lily Maisky, make a rare Canadian appearance with a concert featuring music from recent Deutsche Grammophon recordings. “He is one of the biggest personalities in classical music in Europe. I have had people asking me to brng him in for years and it has finally worked out,” Borys said.   

Lily and Mischa Maisky. Photo: Bernard Rosenberg

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.