Posts Tagged ‘Quebec City’

cape breton/nova scotia, pt. ll

August 28, 2010

québec city in pictures

April 11, 2010

vyo bon voyage

July 4, 2009
VT Governor Jim douglas, honoring maestro Troy Peters

VT Governor Jim Douglas honoring VYO maestro Troy Peters

Kind of hard to believe it’s over. For months I’ve been hearing about the preparations, and looking forward to the July 3rd “bon voyage” concert with the Vermont Youth Orchestra. The promising program included music by Corigliano, Mendelssohn, and Gershwin along with two new world premieres written for the Orchestra. The date fell on the eve of the Orchestra’s summer tour (stopping in Québec City first, then on to several appearances in France) and it was their last home turf concert with Troy Peters, the group’s beloved conductor of fourteen years.

Governor Jim Douglas set the celebratory tone for the evening with a fitting tribute to the outgoing maestro. He cited in particular Peters’ artistic vision and dedication to challenging and adventurous programming, as well as the positive effect it’s had on developing the skills of the Orchestra and broadening the scope of audience awareness and interests. True enough. I would further that fact by adding that Troy has not only done this with his choices of repertoire for the Orchestra in his role as conductor, but also in the music he’s personally written for them, as a composer. Including the brand new work that opened the concert: written with the Quadricentennial and the upcoming French tour in mind, it is the bouyantly optimistic concert piece, Champlain’s Dream.

7/4/09 - VYO's final hometown concert with maestro Troy Peters

7/3/09 - VYO's final hometown concert with maestro Troy Peters

Apart from the considerable sentimental and historic import of last night’s concert, the group flat-out played great. I’ve never heard the low brass sound better, they were regal and sonorous in Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The shimmering violins in Corigliano’s Voyage wove a luminescent aura that delicately hovered around the whole piece, and Saint-Saëns’ potboiler, the exotic, ferocious Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila, was a nearly off-the-road juggernaut that brought the first half to a thrilling end.

How to follow that up for the second half? With the lovely Fauré Pavane; a fresh, saucy, Daugherty-reminscent Prelude and Tango (written by VYO alum Drake Mabry); and – what else? Gershwin’s An American in Paris – complete with dead-on taxi horns and all the cosmopolitan busy-ness one would want from that bustling Parisian street scene.

Undoubtedly it will be a different Orchestra in the coming season as Troy Peters moves on to his new post with the youth orchestra in San Antonio, and the VYO moves forward under new leadership (yet to be announced). But, as with any living organism, every new day brings changes. Some expected, some less so, yet every change brings with it opportunities that are only revealed when the time is right. Now concluding its 46th season, the VYO is every bit up to the challenge.

Bon voyage and very best wishes to Troy and the Orchestra as they embark on the tour together this weekend, and after, on their own undoubtedly interesting life paths.

Remember, among friends it’s never “adieu“. Just say, “a bientôt “!

7/3/09 - Post-concert fireworks over the marina at the Lake Champlain waterfront

7/3/09 - Post-concert fireworks over the marina at the Lake Champlain waterfront

la musique québecois

April 20, 2009

2009-apr20-quebeccd1Returned to Burlington from Québec City this afternoon with about 10 minutes to spare before the start of the show…perfect! Today we’ll hear music from the province (including Le Vent du Nord and Tricot Machine) and from Dobet Gnahoré’s Na Afriki, following her outstanding performance on Sat. night at the Palais Montcalm. Somali hip-hopper K’Naan’s new release Troubadour offers some thoughtful insights into life in that country, and ukulele phenom Jake Shimabukuro puts his own stylish spin on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” from the new live recording. Listen to “World of Music” online (Mondays, 3-5pm) or at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT.

bonjour from québec city

April 19, 2009

musicians atop the battlement wall

Ready for that visit to Europe? Forget about booking a flight. Your passport and a tank of gas will good as get you there.

Had a couple of days off and hit the road today for Québec City. Around four and a half hours northeast of Burlington, the history and charm of the province’s capital city have beckoned ever since I moved to Vermont. A couple of extra reasons finally drove the decision to go today. First, the historical draw: with Quadricentennial celebrations happening this year in Burlington this was the opportunity to get the rich backstory by visiting the city founded by Samuel de Champlain, in his pre-Lake year of 1608.

And, with a performer like Dobet Gnahoré in town for a show tonight – road trip!

Arrived in the city around 4 and the first stop was the Old Port neighborhood to pick up tickets for tonight’s show at the grand Palais Montcalm. I was surprised to find how contemporary the theatre looked, since the online history mentioned it had been built in the 1930s. Turns out the recent renovation did a lot more than touch up the building’s stone facade…taking a look around inside later on revealed a tastefully modernized auditorium in the glossy dark wood finish that would have been at the top of its deco style when it was built. Beautiful.


Dobet's playbill

Second stop: hotel check-in, and then a long, quiet sunset-lit dinner at the Cafe Conti just down the street – er, rue. Recommended by the hotel desk, the low-light, casually elegant stone wall interior created a nice, non-competitive backdrop for the bright colors and saturated flavors in the meal. Focus on the food, just as it should be. Without a reservation on a Saturday night, a bar seat was the only one available. I never mind sitting at the bar but it felt odd to be eating on straw placemats through the salad course when the rest of the place was draped in white linens. That was soon remedied when an attentive bar attendant swept through and replaced all of the straw mats beneath everyone’s plates with white cloth napkins, spread out and smoothed, with the glasses, utensils and plates carefully replaced. “It’s just nicer,” she said. Alors, quite true.

And then, back to the Palais for Dobet!

I’d seen her in concert once before, when she came to Higher Ground shortly after the release of her latest recording, Na Afriki. When I realized tonight’s show was a seated one, I was a little disappointed because Dobet’s enthusiasm for dancing is infectious and I couldn’t imagine not moving around when she was performing. And while the show did end up being a bit more subdued than I remembered the last time, the fact is there simply aren’t many places that can match the intimacy of the rooms at Higher Ground for really allowing a personal interaction with the artists. So that’s a tough point for criticism.

In every other way the show was great: meaningful, politically pointed, musically thrilling…and can she dance! Check her out from this club date in Amsterdam.

Time to call it a night, tomorrow holds an exploration of the Citadel and other historic places around the city. And a lot of other unexpected adventures, I hope!

À demain.

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