Ken Stephen’s August Beauties


by Ken Stephen

As the start date for the Festival draws closer, it can get harder to decide which events to attend.  Many people share this problem, because the yearly Festival calendar offers such an embarrassment of riches!

It’s also all too easy to focus on one week at a time and miss some of the delights coming in the latter part of the Festival.

So here’s my quick preview of selected highlights from the August end of the Festival calendar.

Thursday, August 1 includes a delightful pair of afternoon concerts.  The first brings a collection of one of my favourite Mozart piano sonatas with a violin sonata of Beethoven, and a rare clarinet trio by Alexander Zemlinsky.

The second one features mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah in the lovely songs for voice, viola and piano by Brahms, Op. 91, and then the dramatic Piano Trio in D minor by Mendelssohn.

On Sunday, August 4, Parry Sound pianist Craig Harley is joined by John Southworth and the South Seas for what promises to be an entertaining afternoon concert of jazz, folk, and song.

Monday, August 5 at 2:00 pm marks the date and time of the very first Festival of the Sound concert in 1979.  To mark the occasion, the entire programme of the first concert will be played in the same order as originally given.  It’s an all-Beethoven event, including among other works the “Pathetique” sonata and the “Ghost” trio, and features Bryan and Silvie Cheng, Yolanda Bruno, Moshe Hammer, Glen Montgomery, and James Campbell.  A definite do-not-miss!

The dinner and concert at Seguin Valley Golf Club on Tuesday, August 6 brings together Festival favourites – violinist Moshe Hammer, the New Zealand String Quartet, and the Canadian Guitar Quartet.  The beautiful vaulted log clubhouse is not only a visual delight, but also has proven to have very good acoustics for this kind of music.

On Wednesday, August 7, the first afternoon concert turns the spotlight to Gillian Ansell, viola player of the New Zealand String Quartet, and her instrument – the viola, perennial poor relation of the string family and butt of musicians’ jokes.

After Gillian shares the beauty of her music, the second concert brings back the Cheng²Duo for a recital based on the theme of “Fables and Folk Tales,” with music by Ravel, Schumann, Poulenc, and Prokofiev.

The afternoon of Thursday, August 8 brings another fascinating recital by the Canadian Guitar Quartet, whose engaging stage presence and intricate music making have now highlighted several Festivals.

There’s so much more I could mention, and I haven’t even touched on the exciting day-long series of anniversary Celebration events on Friday, August 9.  This is obviously going to be a Festival to remember for years to come.