Blog / Archives / May 2015

A Guy Obsessed with 12 Notes but They’re Just in a Different Order

A Guy Obsessed with 12 Notes but They’re Just in a Different Order

This weekend, on Sunday May 17th at 7:30pm, Jazz Yukon and the Yukon Arts Centre and are co-presenting a very special collaboration concert of our very own Daniel Janke and Canada’s internationally renowned Mark Fewer.

This show will be nothing short of uniquely entertaining as the duo alludes to what could be expected of their collaborative recording project, on the theme of 'visual music'. Pieces in this concert will feature in a CD recording, Music for Strings (title TBA), set to release on the Centrediscs label. This concert features Janke’s unique composition style and Fewer’s virtuosic playing. The style straddles boundaries between contemporary music and modal string writing traditions.

We welcome Mark Fewer to Whitehorse for the first time. Fewer became immersed in music at a very young age.  In fact, when he was 10 years old, Fewer had played for Pope John Paul II, and for Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their respected visits to his home town in Fort St. John. That was just the beginning of the long list of accomplishments that Mark Fewer`s musical career has gained.

Here’s a Global News excerpt of an interview by Richard Dagenais on Morning News Montreal:

RD:  “You`re described as genre-bending, you play jazz, avant-garde, classical. Who is the real Mark Fewer?”

MF:  “Probably a guy obsessed with 12 notes but they’re just in a different order. People often ask me that question, what I would really want to do if I had to make a choice, and I don’t really have a good answer for that. Because I like to think that it’s possible to be fully invested in whatever music you’re looking at, at that moment; whether it’s classical,  whether is Bach, whether it’s jazz or something avant-garde. Whatever it is, you can really put your full sense of musicality into it rather than feeling like just being aware of one piece of pie of where you have to stay. Maybe that’s kind of my gypsy nature that I don’t like to be in one place for too long, and that means creatively that I like to look at a lot of different things. And I think the idea that you can look at things with a different perspectives is actually really healthy. So if you’re spending time in the jazz world, and you come back to Bach, let’s say, you see a whole other Bach.”

RD:  “So, why aren’t more musicians doing that?”

MF:  "When I was starting out, maybe 20 years ago, I was probably one of the only ones doing this. But now there’s a lot more people interested in a lot more of what’s out there. You can maybe credit the internet for a little bit of that, but I also credit a few very specific classical individuals namely Nigel Kennedy, and one of my very favourite violinist that’s alive today name Enrico Onofri. They really decided that you could break out of the mold of control and find an awful lot more to put into your music making.”

RD:  “That’s an important lesson”

MF:  “For everything!”

RD: “Yeah, for everything, for young students in music. You're a teacher, is that something you try?

MF:  “Well, you know, it’s a delicate balance because depending on the level of the student they may need a certain type of training to get to their next level if you look at it from a technical perspective. But, musically, they have their own thing to say, and so for me to try and take my ideas and tell them ‘”no, this is how music goes” well then you’re on shaky ground at that point. Because you shouldn’t really be telling somebody else what music is all about – they have their own thing to say about it. It’s something they can explore on their own. So as a teacher I love that exploration with others and so if I can do that with students, that’s great. This week I’m doing that with colleagues, this week I’m doing it with ‘I Musici’ because I can’t really tell these people “no, it’s this way or the highway”. The new world of classical musicians is here, and it’s here to stay.

For tickets go to:

Artwork Wednesday: Vancouver Theatre with Al.

Artwork Wednesday: Vancouver Theatre with Al.

Our CEO Al Cushing was recently in Vancouver and here is his report back.

We joined our Theatre consultant friend, Rob Hamilton, for  “Rite” presented by Ballet BC.

The signature piece, “Rite” which filled the first half of the evening was black on white, It was brilliantly choreographed by the Ballet BC artistic director Emily Molnar on a stunning textured off white set by Omer Arbel.  Usually an all white set is a recipe for a visual disaster, creating horrible challenges for the lighting designer.  However, here, the LD, James Proudfoot was able to overcome the challenges primarily because Kate Burrow’s costumes were in shades and textures of black. I found the work visually stimulating and emotionally engaging. I had two concerns; the lighting sometimes fought the choreography, changes in lighting texture competed with and failed to support the flow of the choreography: and, the soundscape although it worked well for the piece sounded to my ears like a hideous feedback loop that needed to be fixed.

I accept that the composer for “Rite” was probably trying to emulate the shock factor that Stravinsky had in 1913 when his Rites of Spring was presented in Paris.  However, he was no Stravinsky. 

The second half of the evening the now “traditional” Rites of Spring was equally strong, and featured white costumes on a black set.  Unfortunately, the unisex costume dresses did not do anything to add drama to the very fine and erotic choreography. 

All in all it was a stunning evening at the Queen Elizabeth theatre.

The next day, Saturday, acting on Eric Epstein’s advice we went to Granville Island to catch two pieces of theatre by an all female ensemble.  The matinee was “J Caesar”, a shortened adaptation of the Shakespeare’s play re-written for an all female cast.  The writing worked rather well, however James MacDonald’s direction brought the play to a fever pitch from the beginning and left no room for growth.  The Shakespearian language also seemed to be a challenge for some of the cast.  However, it was a worthwhile exercise in adaptation.

In the evening, the same company presented “Miss Shakespeare” a musical about women, notably Shakespeare’s daughter Judith, wanting to become thespians in an all male theatre world.  It was funny, touching and just plain fun.  Tracey Power wrote the book and lyrics; and also helped write the music with Steve Charles; both elements were very strong.  The performances were all very strong, the lighting effective and the simple set worked beautifully.

Both shows were at Performance Works, a delightful, small venue on Granville Island.  The shows will be moving to the Meek Centre in West Vancouver, opening on May 21.

Image: Miss Shakespeare. Photograph by: Bold Rezolution Studio