Springtime Music in Haliburton

Some nifty things going on at home with regards to music…  We had our spring concert a few weekends ago.  And when I say “we”, I mean the Highlands Wind Symphony, Highlands Swing Band and the brand-spanking-new Highlands Chamber Orchestra.

The concert was fantastic – it was blazin’ hot out that Sunday, so it was good to be indoors playing music.  The Highlands Wind Symphony is playing better than ever and, for the pieces I was conducting, I think they played them just about the best yet.  Especially “Nessun Dorma”.  So heartfelt.  And “Mars” was driving, precise and LOUD.  And I mean that in a good way.  The chords and intensity in the ending 5/2 section were great.  For swing band, from my vantage point, we really put on a great show.

Various members got compliments from the audience too.  People who’ve been coming to hear us year-after-year say we just keep improving.  I think the musicians are playing better, from dynamics, to articulation and listening.  People are becoming more self-aware and aware of their role in their sections and with the rest of the band.

One of the highlights of the concert was the inaugural performance of the Highlands Chamber Orchestra.  Bethany Houghton, a local string player, teacher and instrument maker, has had a dream of creating an orchestra in Haliburton ever since she moved to the area.  Her string class was maturing, so she decided to contact Glen Carter from the wind symphony to see about creating an orchestra.  Glen proposed that the new orchestra perform in the wind symphony’s spring concert and a schedule was created get us together.  Bethany brought in some friends (retired teachers, cottagers, her sister) to play too.  Glen conducted and did a fine job of it – he really shone in the rehearsals, giving constructive direction on balance, tuning and tempo.

At the concert, the audience gave the orchestra a standing ovation.  It was pretty exciting over all.  I had a “wow” moment when I heard the strings tune up on stage.  I had to ask myself:  am I in Haliburton?  We played two pieces:  Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations and J Strauss Jr.’s Emperor Waltz.  Nimrod was beautiful.  The waltz was good – a little slow though.  We toyed with a quicker tempo at the dress rehearsal and it came alive, but we stuck with the original tempo on stage.

The next day, the new “board” for the orchestra met to discuss next steps – considering a concert in November has been booked and paid-for.  We were pretty casual about titles, but I’m conductor now and, more-or-less, “music director”.  In co-operation with a few others on the board, I’m putting together a program for the November concert.  I’m loving this part!  Browsing scores and looking at parts and I think we’ve settled on a program:  inclusive to winds and brass with room for a double-concero, string quartet, brass quintet and tuba+piano.  I’m totally looking forward to this happening!  So many great possibilities!

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