Chamberfest selections: Some picks from the program

Canadian soprano Simone Osborne is taking part in this year's Chamberfest. Photo: Bo Huang

The world’s largest chamber music festival is celebrating 25 years of great music with another eclectic and ambitious program of about 100 concerts featuring artists from around the world and right here at home. The fun all begins on July 26.

Every year it’s a challenge to not pick every concert on the program as a best bet, but such is our task. Here’s some shows we feell will be worth checking out, but that doesn’t mean these are the only possibilities for your calendar. After all the festival features more of Angela Hewitt‘s Bach Odyssey and a return engagement by the Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos and lots more. For all the concerts, locations, tickets and times please see

July 27: Jamie Parker and Nicole Presentey deliver a piano duet that will feature works from Mozart, Lutoslawski and Brahms. Parker is a member of the Gryphon Trio and a well-known pianist in his own right. Ottawa-native Nicole Presentey teaches chamber music and piano at Carleton University but she is a talented soloist in her own right. This is a rare opportunity to see her on stage in concert. Add in Parker and this is an afternoon gem worth catching.

Marc-Andre Hamelin. Photo: Sim Cannety Clark

July 27: Marc-André Hamelin and Quator Danel: Along with Angela Hewitt, Janina Fialkowska and Louis Lortie, Hamelin is part of a generation of Canadian soloists who are shining on the world stage. He’s in demand worldwide as a performer and as a composer. This concert will feature some rarely heard music by the early 20th century Russian composer Samuil Feinberg along with the piano quintet by Dmitri Shostakovich where he will be joined by the talented French quartet led by violinist Marcel Danel.

July 28: Gotta love Gershwin. The 2oth century composer of Porgy and Bess and Rhapsody in Blue is featured  in this concert combining the talents of the Buzz Brass and pianist Matt Herskowitz who will perform some familiar pieces — Summertime and I’ve Got Rhythm — and some lesser known works including an arrangement of 3 Preludes. This is part of the Chamberfringe series.

July 30: The appearance of the talented Ariel String Quartet would be a strong addition to the festival in any year, but to pair them with the Rolston String Quartet, the winners of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, well that makes for a great night of music-making. On the bill: Schumann, Ravel and Mendelssohn’s Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20.

July 31: Sounding Thunder is a musical homage to the life of Canadian war hero Francis Pegahmagabow, who was a decorated solider in the First World War. The music has been composed by Timothy Corlis awith text by the Ojibwe poet Armand Garnet Ruffo. This piece will explore Pegahmagabow’s life as a young Anishnaabe, his wartime exploits and his life after the war as th chief of the Wasauksing Ojibwe and the founder of the Indigenous political movement.

Aug. 1: Gli Angeli Geneve is a highly respected ensemble dedicated to period performance and early music. They are based in Geneva but travel extensively across Europe. This will be their first Ottawa appearance and they will perform music by Bach and Telemann.

Aug. 2: If you haven’t heard a performance of the homage to the painter Tom Thomson, you should try to get to this Chamberfringe concert by the Algonquin Ensemble which features musicians Laura Nerenberg, violin; Lisa Moody, viola; Margaret Tobolowska, cello; Terry Tufts, guitar; John Geggie, double bass; and Kathryn Briggs, piano.

Made In Canada quartet.

Aug 4: Ambitious is the only word to describe Mosaiques, the concert program assembled  by the quartet Made in Canada which features the NAC Orchestra’s principal cellist Rachel Mercer. The enselmble commissioned new works from Canadian composers from across the country, including David Braid, Barbara Croall, Vivian Fung, Kevin Lau, Nicole Lizée, Sarah Slean and Ana Sokolović.

Aug. 7: The Prague-based Pražák Quartet have been exponents of Czech music for 50 years and they show no signs of slowing down. Enjoy works by Dvorák, Zemlinsky and Smetana and think about floating down the Vitava River underneath the bridges that connect the ancient Bohemian capital.

Aug. 8: They live in Frankfurt, Germany these days so it’s a treat to hear soprano Simone Osborne and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner in concert in Ottawa. Partners in life and in music, they will sing alongside pianist Michael McMahon in a program of art songs including duets by Saint-Saëns and Mendelssohn.

Aug. 9: I Musici, the Montreal chamber orchestra founded by the legendary cellist Yuli Turovsky performs a concert led by their current director Jean-Marie Zeitouni of music by French-Canadian composers André Prévost and Denis Gougeon along with Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge. The evening will also feature the Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman in a performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto.

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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.