Chamber music hits KPU

Jane Hayes-Borealis String Quartet concert highlights potential of smaller ensembles

Concert pianist and Kwantlen Polytechnic University faculty member Jane Hayes says she and her colleagues are encouraging the development of chamber ensembles as another way to reach out to the community.

In the days of the great European classical composers of the Baroque and Romantic eras, there was a role for musicians in the community that extended far beyond playing merely in the courts of dukes and princes.

In that time – when all entertainment was live and commonly provided by friends, family and neighbours – chamber music ensembles were a core of community events.

It’s a function of chamber music that White Rock’s Jane Hayes – noted international concert pianist, recording artist, chamber music participant and director of keyboard studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus – is daring to dream of reviving among students.

And there’s tangible inspiration for students (many of whom come from the Peninsula) with the presence of the internationally renowned Borealis String Quartet, going into its third year as artists-in-residence at the campus.

Hayes herself will join the quartet (violinists Patricia Shih and Yuel Yawney, violist Niukita Pogrebnoy and cellist Sungyong Lim)  Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. in a Faculty Showcase concert at the KPU Langley Auditorium (201901 Langley Bypass, info at 604-599-2205 or music@kpu.ca).

With a program that will include Dvorak’s impassioned Piano Quintet Op. 81, it’s guaranteed to be a high level demonstration of the intrinsic emotional power of chamber music, which Hayes, a founding member of Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble, has often championed.

“Chamber music – one person, one part – is, in a sense a counterpart of theatre,” she said.

“Each part is a voice, and the piece can’t exist without everyone else.”

It’s a field, she believes, that holds great potential for students – not all of whom could expect to pursue a formal concert career.

“Within the department we’ve gone from a two-year program to a full Bachelor of Arts program,” she said.

“With Borealis there right now, we’re going to see what we can do to encourage chamber music as a viable option for students. And it’s a another way we can reach out to the community – it’s all well and good to be a high school music teacher, but (chamber music) could be another way to contribute.”

To this end, KPU is partnering with the Langley School District to begin an Honours Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Rob Goddard, in which Borealis will provide artistic leadership.

It’s part of current renaissance for the KPU music department as the university approaches its 25th anniversary, said Hayes – who like a fellow faculty member, flautist Paolo Bortolussi, is a 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee.

This momentum Hayes credits to the presence of Dean of Arts, Diane Purvey, and the more recent arrival of Dr. Salvador (Sal) Ferreras – Vancouver musician and musical educator – as KPU’s provost and academic vice-president.

“Sal took a look around in his first year, building the idea of ‘what can we do?’,” she said.

“It was like a re-awakening – we’d all fallen dormant.”

The revival includes the reinstitution of the Faculty Chamber Series concerts (now known as Faculty Showcase) after a 15-year hiatus, she said.

In addition to next Friday’s concert, there will also be a Wind Showcase on Feb. 3  in which Hayes will be joined by Bortussi, oboist Marea Chernoff, clarinetist Francois Houle, bassoonist Alan Thorpe and French horn player Laurel Spencer in a program built around Francois Poulenc’s early 20th century masterpiece Sextet.

And on March 3, KPU faculty member Gail Suderman will bring her own Good Noise Gospel Choir (resident at Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral) to the campus for an inspirational concert.

It’s clear that the new musical momentum at Kwantlen is creating excitement among students – a suggestion by Hayes to form a student music society has been eagerly taken up, she added.

Also encouraging musical awareness on campus is the series of Music at Midweek noon concerts showcasing faculty and students.

And this year KPU is offering master classes with visiting musicians such as pianist Sara Davis Buechner and others such as the American composer Stephen Dankner who will visit this month to hear the premier of his new piano quintet written for Hayes and Borealis.

 

 

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