Devotion to music sparks Friendship
In a tiny corner office, tucked away at the end of a narrow passage in Kwantlen University College’s Langley campus music department, a pair of musicians are busily tying up loose ends in what they hope will be the beginning of a beautiful Friendship, so to speak.
For White Rock’s Dr. Wayne Jeffrey, KUC director of ensembles, and violinist Calvin Dyck, that means getting the word out about a concert they will perform, alongside 20 other musicians, when the Canada West Chamber Orchestra presents Mozart and Friends in a pair of Fraser Valley concerts.
The co-artistic directors took the name from the Original Canada West Chamber Orchestra, which was introduced by conductor Bruce Dunn 20 years ago, and re-emerged in the 1990s, through the efforts of one of his UBC music students.
And they’ve done so with Dunn’s blessing, borrowing music for two of the concert’s pieces from the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, of which Dunn is currently musical director.
“We’re building up from last year,” said Jeffrey, referring to the Jan. 26, 2007 concert which capped off a year of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth.
“There was such a terrific response in a short period,” said Jeffrey. “The audience loved Mozart and we love Mozart.”
And so the New Year seemed to Jeffrey and Dyck, the perfect opportunity to return and explore the theme on a grander scale.
The two men sat down over coffee one day a few months ago and began discussing the possibility of taking last year’s 11-member ensemble to its next evolutionary level — a chamber orchestra comprised chiefly of musicians from the Fraser Valley.
“More and more professional musicians are finding they can’t afford to live in Vancouver, so they move east of the bridge,” said Dyck, an Abbotsford resident.
“We wanted to use the professional musicians who are here,” said Jeffrey.. “It was just a matter of organizing them.”
The men also talked a few Vancouver players into crossing the Port Mann for the concerts because, as Jeffrey put it, “Certain instruments don’t live out here.
“We’re bringing the talent out here, so that audiences don’t have to travel to Vancouver.” “It’s green in a way,” said Dyck, pointing out that it’s far better to have a few musicians driving out of the city than a few hundred audience members driving in.
Still, they weren’t motivated entirely by environmental concerns.
“It’s fair to say there are certain people we want to play with. We’ve assembled a group of musical friends.
That’s why we’ve called it Mozart and Friends,” said Jeffrey.
Jeffrey and Dyck approached each potential orchestra member with the same simple question:
“Here’s what we’re thinking. Can you donate your time?”
The result is a 22-piece ensemble, featuring strings, oboes, horns, bassoon and piano, with the majority of the musicians hailing from from Langley, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Tsawwassen, Surrey or White Rock. One notable absence from the mix, however, is a conductor
That was a deliberate choice; the men wanted to take a collaborative approach with the burgeoning orchestra.
“A conductor makes 90 per cent of the decisions,” said Jeffrey. “This way, it gives performers an opportunity to have input.”
The concerts will feature Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, which many audience members will recognize from the score of the 1984 biopic Amadeus.
“It’s not featured live in many performances because it’s for a smaller grouping – a Mozart-sized orchestra,” explained Jeffrey.
Handel’s Water Music is also on the program, “in honour of our rainy season,” quipped Jeffrey.
“Oh, is that it?” responded Dyck, laughing.
The title of the music comes from the fact that it was first performed on a barge on the River Thames for England’s King George I, who rode, along with his guests, on a second barge. The story goes that the king enjoyed the music so much, he had the exhausted musicians perform it three times through before allowing them to retire for the night.
Looking beyond next weekend’s shows, the men would eventually like to see the Canada West Chamber Orchestra perform three or four concerts a year and tour each one, “from Chilliwack to Tsawwassen.”
The next concert will take place at Kwantlen’s Langley campus in the spring. It will be an Easter presentation of Handel’s Messiah.