Since we’re already living together, the harpist Lori Gemmell (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra) and I have put together an ever-growing number of shows that combine chamber music and storytelling. It is, apparently, just what we do.
We’ve given these shows at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Luminato, WestBen, Music Niagara and many other places. Here is a partial list:
The Last Curlew was inspired by the seminal environmental novel by the Canadian naturalist Fred Bodsworth. This powerful, heart-breaking story is told with music by Alexina Louie, Ralph Vaughan-Williams and R. Murray Schafer, and features TSO Violinist Etsuko Kimura and Dancer/Choreographer Julia Aplin.
The Crown of Ariadne – music by R. Murray Schafer, with a story taken from Greek mythology. Originally conceived as part of Schafer’s art circus The Greatest Show, The Crown of Ariadne puts the harpist at the centre of a virtuoso, multi-instrument tour de force. The story – the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur – is a riveting tale of heroism, love at first sight, and fate.
Gemmell not only played the harp superbly but also played an array of percussion instruments. At times she was playing the harp with one hand and banging drums with another. Can someone arrange a bonus in her paycheque? Ottawa Citizen
A Carmen Fantasy features the brilliant music by Georges Bizet from his celebrated opera. The evening is collaboration with Lori, Tom and their friends Patricia O’Callaghan (Soprano) and Etsuko Kimura (Violin, Toronto Symphony Orchestra).The story takes in the tragic tale of Carmen and the social history around the opera and its predecessor, the 1830 novella by Prosper Merimee.
A Poe Cabaret was initially co-commissioned by Luminato and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. It features an original and dramatic setting of Poe’s The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet by Alexina Louie, as well as André Caplet’s Conte Fantastique (inspired by Poe’s The Masque of Red Death) for harp and string quartet.