Unusual ensemble set to play Penticton

ARC Ensemble's unlikely grouping preparing for date here on March 22

ARC Ensemble is bringing an unusual combination of instruments together to perform rare music at the next Penticton Community Concert event on March 22 at the Cleland Theatre. This will be one of the last concerts of the season with the finale of local artists on May 7.

ARC Ensemble is bringing an unusual combination of instruments together to perform rare music at the next Penticton Community Concert event on March 22 at the Cleland Theatre. This will be one of the last concerts of the season with the finale of local artists on May 7.

A mish-mash of instruments will come together to perform a repertoire of rarely heard works at Penticton’s Cleland Theatre.

“You put together strange instruments like this, where on their own they are not strange but they don’t often get together like this, and you have this out of the ordinary concert,” said George Zukerman, who organized the tour. “The reason is partly to play some unusual music and the leader is a guitarist and he plays astonishingly well and it will amaze people but he has dug up so much music over his career.”

Simone Wynberg (guitarist and artistic director for ARC Ensemble) has edited over 60 volumes of previously unknown guitar music and many of his recordings have received glowing reviews and awards. He found works Beethoven wrote them for guitar.

“Contemporary Beethoven got the pieces approved because there was so many wonderful guitar players around those days. Not many people know that, so one of the pieces they will be performing in Penticton is Beethoven. That is astonishing,” said Zukerman.

The Artists of the Royal Conservatory Ensemble are performing an eight-concert tour with a stop in Penticton on March 22 as part of the Penticton Community Concerts season.

Varying combinations of instruments from violin, viola, cello, clarinet and guitar will come together on the works, including one that was specifically composed for the tour by violinist Benjamin Bowman. He is one of Canada’s most dynamic and versatile musicians who preforms regularly as a soloist and is a member or frequent guest artist for some of the country’s best chamber music ensembles.

“He has written a piece and no one has any idea what it sounds like because it will be premiered on this tour. It is amazing because here is an ensemble wanting to represent what Canadians are listening to today and Benjamin is a very skilled composer and I am sure it will be a wonderful piece,” said Zukerman.

Another odd pairing, said Zukerman, is the clarinet with a quartet.

“It is three strings and a clarinet and this piece was probably as popular in the streets of Sweden in 1810 as the Mozart clarinet quintet was in Vienna. People didn’t move around so much and… each country would generate their own celebrity,” said Zukerman.

According to Zukerman, there is nothing created strictly for the five instruments that ARC Ensemble are performing with during this tour.

“It’s a crazy combination, I agree,” he said.

Over the last 10 years the ARC Ensemble has become one of Canada’s pre-eminent cultural ambassadors, raising international appreciation of the Royal Conservatory and Canada’s rich musical life.

Its members are all senior faculty of the Glenn Gould School with guest artists drawn from its most exceptional students and graduates. The ARC Ensemble has performed throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. Its first two CDs, On the Threshold of Hope and Right Through The Bone were both nominated for Grammy Awards in the Best Chamber Music Recording category.

“We are very lucky to have the opportunity for small communities to bring a group like this in. This is what keeps music moving in our province. Just because people live in a smaller city they shouldn’t be deprived of the opportunity to hear music of this quality,” said Zukerman.

Reaching out to youth is a vital part of audience development and community engagement for Penticton Community Concerts, and they have organized for members of the ARC Ensemble to provide Masterclass instruction to local students from 1:00 to 2:00 pm on March 22, at the Shatford Centre, with instructors Steven Dann (strings), Joaquin Valdepenas (woodwinds) and Wynberg (classical guitar).  Cost is $10 and interested intermediate or senior students are invited to send their contact particulars to info@shatfordcentre.com for more information.

The Local Artist Appreciation Concert is being held at 7:30 p.m. on May 7 at the Cleland Theatre.

The concert will feature local artists  Johnathon Stuchbery (classical guitar) and Saige Carlson (classical voice) and dance performers selected to compete at the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts BC being held in Penticton in June.

PCC also announced there will be a special reception on March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Shatford Centre. This event will be a social gathering to kick off the 2014-2015 concert season and also appreciate the many volunteers that help make Penticton Community Concerts a success.

Everyone is invited and will be the first to know about next season’s concerts. RSVP to Shatford Centre at 250-770-7668 or e-mail info@shatfordcentre.com.

Tickets for the ARC Ensemble performance and the Local Artists Appreciation Concert are available for $30 for adults and $5 for students at the Shatford Centre and at the Cleland Theatre on the night of the concert, if available.