ODE TO A PANDEMIC….
The global pandemic and the last 26 months have certainly given us a lot to think about, evaluate, re-evaluate; a world and its societies in collective turmoil, every person being forced their own unique journey of sudden change, sudden loss, silence, gross deception, of education, re-education, revelation, of re-invention. For myself, an artist whose industry and engagements were suddenly closed and cancelled, the inspiration of this program started to manifest. Johann Sebastian Bach’s stunning solo Cantata “Ich habe genug” is truly music at its most sublime and straight to the heart. Written for the liturgical Feast of the Purification, the journey through the test of life and faith, denouncing of what is false of “the world”, aspiring to the joy of the divine, laying to rest of the worldly notions that deny peace “Welt, ich bleibe nicht mehr hier….”, and that moment of commitment, that leap of faith into the purity of life and the divine, “Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod!”. The image and process of a caterpillar’s transition to chrysalis, molecular reorganization, and re-emergence into the world as a butterfly aptly comes to mind.
Just over a hundred years ago, humanity had just come out of the Great War (WWI) which dovetailed with the last major pandemic that shut down the world, The Spanish Flu. Taking a little dive into history, there was witness of so many parallel stories of struggle that became sources of inspiration and change with that “breakout” attitude. One that spoke to me was the development of a small group of composers in France that were under the mentorship of Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie. The group included Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and, this evening’s guest, Arthur Honegger. The group came to be known as Les Six and they initially presented out of a small gallery/studio in Montparnasse, all with the mission to discern and develop a national voice and identity in French music and what became known as avant garde. Honegger’s setting of the Six Poèmes d’Apollinaire: extraits de “Alcools” gives a fresh and fun example of the energy and movement into the “Roaring ’20’s” in the Paris scene.
In discussion with Narmina, we both came to the table with our “bucket list” of what we wanted to perform coming out of this locked down quarantine existence. The classic cycle of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe (Opus 48) was our common denominator. If you know it, you know why…. If you don’t, do come and witness the performance and you’ll be privy to the secret.
17 months after the firstCOVID lockdowns, we started to see the ever growing light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, we took a leap of faith and invited an audience for a live and in-person public performance in the glorious acoustic of Toronto’s JEANNE LAMON HALL. It was an emotional moment for artists and audience a like. Now, we take it to France and the artistic “Shangri-La” that is LA ROCHE D’HYS: Domaine des Arts nestled in the rolling valleys of the Bourgogne region of France. If you are in the area, it will be our absolute pleasure to welcome you to our audience!