Here’s one for the power of the personal invitation. When you’re marketing a concert (or whatever, I’m sure), all the nice posters and advertising don’t go as far as a personal invitation from someone who is involved. The Calgary Civic Symphony is a community orchestra that has been around for almost 40 years, comprising about 80 members who range from professional musicians and teachers to those who have careers in non-music related fields and who pursue their passion on the side. I have heard that they are quite good, but I honestly would not have gone to a concert had my daughter’s oboe teacher, who plays in the orchestra, invited us. What a delightful Sunday afternoon it was!
Under the leadership of Rolf Bertsch, they presented an afternoon of French Impressionist music: Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and Daphis et Chloé Suite No. 2, as well as Debussy’s Nocturnes and his Premiere Rhapsodie for Clarinet. This is difficult orchestral repertoire. I had spent the previous few days listening to recordings of all these works, with a score in front of me. (Yes, this is what prompted my previous, rather depressing post!). I was surprised at how well the Civic Symphony played this music. They achieved a luminous sound in places.
The Debussy Rhapsody features a solo clarinet, and this was fabulously performed by the Calgary Philharmonic’s Steve Amsel. After years of band concerts complete with squeaky clarinets, this was pure joy. The other works also showcased the woodwinds, and they did not disappoint. At one point in the Daphnis et Chloé, I think, there were a couple of bars in which the english horn and 2 oboes were playing in harmony – this should put to rest all those bad jokes about 2 oboes playing together. There were many stunning moments, including the dazzling flute solos and the meltingly beautiful English horn solos.
The whole area of community music, as opposed to professional music-making, has become an issue that strikes close to home. Most of my students will not pursue careers in music, and my own children are at an age when they are struggling with career choices. They are all gifted musicians, but I always keep in mind something one of my teachers said – only become a musician is there is nothing else you can do ( there’s a fair bit of room for interpretation there). It’s no secret that the hours, the pay, and the insecurity of a life in music can be difficult. I personally have no regrets about the life I’ve chosen, and I am so grateful for other professionals around me. Nevertheless, it is so good to have organizations such as the Civic Symphony for those who choose not to pursue a career in music but who want to continue to play at a high level.
An added bonus for me was reconnecting with an old high school friend who took up the cello as an adult and is now playing in the Civic. That’s inspirational! I tried in vain to figure out how to play the french horn a couple of years ago – admittedly, You-tube instructional videos fail here . If I become at all serious about it, I’ll take lessons.
Thanks for the invitation, Jonathan! I really enjoyed it. I’ll be there at the next concert – which is April 22, 2012 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Concerts are Sunday afternoons at 2:30 and tickets are only $15. They are available online at Calgary Civic Symphony.