Tag Archives: Historical Leith Church

The Ezra Duo Brings The Work of Pioneering Women Composers To Meaford

by Bill Monahan

This Sunday, May 20th, Meaford will be treated to a recital of classical music by The Ezra Duo, starting at 4 pm at Christ Church Anglican on Boucher St.  This is the second in a series of concerts held at the church to help raise funds for the maintenance of their pipe organ.  The first concert in May, featuring the jazz stylings of the Patricia Wheeler Quartet, was a great success with a full house and standing ovations.

The Ezra Duo is a young pair of classical musicians who came together at the Glenn Gould School in 2016 and has since performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and won several awards including the Golden Classical Music AwardsJacob Clewell plays viola and Sasha Bult-Ito is on the piano.  The recital on Sunday will include sonatas by Brahms and Shubert but in addition they will be performing works by two pioneering 20th century female composers, Rebecca Clarke and Jean Coulthard.

British-born composer Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata for Viola and Piano has been called one of the greatest works of the 20th century.  It is the highlight of a frustratingly small body of work by the composer who faced a lifelong upstream struggle for recognition primarily because she was a woman.  While it caused a sensation when it appeared in 1919 the Sonata gradually faded from public knowledge as the composer lived out her life as a housewife, but has enjoyed acclaim since its rediscovery in 1976 and has since become one of the most frequently performed large works for viola and piano.

Violist Jennifer Strumm, who performed the piece on International Women’s Day last year, explained why.

“Rebecca Clarke re-established the instrument as something that could be soft and feminine and wild and powerful and much more like a jazz singer,” she said, “Every time I go on stage and play this sonata, I know in a way that I’ve got this, because it’s got this incredibly powerful opening and you just own the stage. It’s so not what people expect from a viola sonata and I love that. For the viola it’s a hugely important piece. She envisioned a different kind of viola, one that wasn’t pigeon-holed into any one idea. She was writing with this incredible fascination for colour and every possibility of the instrument.”

Jean Coulthard, born in Vancouver in 1908, was able to enjoy much more extended success as a composer as well as a respected educator,  Her musical ambitions were encouraged by her family and she attended London’s  Royal College of Music in the late 1920’s to study for a year with Ralph Vaughan Williams.  During the depression years, she associated with the likes of Aaron Copland, Arnold Schoenberg, and Béla Bartók.  In 1947, she began a 26-year-long career teaching theory and composition in the Department of Music at the University of British Columbia.

While she too was often marginalized by male American and Canadian colleagues and was at one point considered out of touch by the new music establishment, by the end of the century her work was recognized for its integrity, purity of expression and deeply emotional language.  Part of her legacy includes generations of students who have helped to shape the national musical arts in Canada from the late 1960s onward.  In 1978 she was awarded the Order of Canada.  In 1990, Maclean’s magazine named her to its Honour Roll, and quoted Mavor Moore, former chair of the Canada Council, who praised Coulthard as “an extraordinarily original composer, with a voice very much her own.”

The Ezra Duo will perform her Sonata Rhapsody, for viola and piano, composed in 1962.

While The Historical Leith Church, ostensibly the centre of live classical music in our area, is by definition within the Municipality of Meaford, this concert is a rare opportunity to hear a classical recital in downtown Meaford.  That combined with the opportunity to hear sonatas performed by women composers makes this a special treat for fans of romantic classical music.

The concert at Christ Church Anglican starts at 4 pm and will include an intermission.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students.

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The Thursday Outlook – July 27 to 31, 2017

On Friday night, Owen Sound’s Poet Laureate, Larry Andreas Jensen returns to The Red Door in Meaford with his classic and original acoustic songs.  Larry is so highly respected by local musicians that a few years back they teamed up to make a special album of covers of his songs.

Austin McCarthy will be playing at The Leeky Canoe this Saturday.  Austin was born and raised in Collingwood and currently attends Concordia University but he has been making the most of his summer break to play often around the area, primarily in Collingwood.  This show at The Leeky will be his first Meaford appearance.

The Historical Leith Church continues its series of outstanding classical performances this Saturday with Mauro Bertoli, an Italian born pianist who is currently the Artist-in-Residence at Carleton University.  Winner of twenty-four Piano Competitions and recipient of the prestigious Italian prize Giuseppe Sinopoli Award, he’s established himself on the international stage and he performs regularly for important Festivals and in major concert halls throughout Europe, North America, Israel, Brazil and China.

Sunday night in Thornbury the Jazz By The Bay series continues at Bayview Park with Quisha Wint, an expressive vocalist who wears many hats, including producer and director of the musical Dandelions In The Wind, session vocalist, and Music and Arts Director at the Unionville Alliance Church.

It’s Elvis weekend in Collingwood where the spirit of The King haunts downtown, the Railroad Museum and Blue Mountain with the ubiquitous Memphis Jones performing at several venues through the weekend, along with the usual array of Elvis impersonators.

In Owen Sound the Harbour Nights series at their own train station museum offers a special treat on Sunday night with international touring artists My Sweet Patootie, renowned for their musical skills and their upbeat vaudeville meets hot jazz live show.