If you saw Moonrise Kingdom, the latest Wes Anderson film (released last year), you’ve already been exposed to the music of the great 20th-century English composer Benjamin Britten. Whether or not you’ve seen it, you should expose yourself (again) this weekend. Britten’s Serenade for
Tenor, Horn and Strings will be performed by Chamber Music Without Borders, along with tenor Kevin Myers, and Gabriel Mairson on horn, all under the able direction of John Wiens. According to Maestro Wiens, when Britten wrote the Serenade in 1943, only the most capable pros would have been able to play it; astoundingly, today, students at the Schulich School of Music at McGill are able to pull it off with aplomb. The work is classic Britten, dealing with themes of decay and loss of innocence, heavy thoughts for a composer who at the time was in his early 20s, but concerns that would stay with him throughout his career.
The concert is part of L’Oasis Musicale, a concert series at Christ Church Cathedral. Maestro Wiens, choral conductor at St. Matthias Church in Westmount, has been Artistic Director of the series for two years now, although it has been running for at least 15 years under different names, and has always highlighted Montreal’s most talented young musicians and up-and-coming professionals. Performers are committed to grass roots music and to sharing their art with the public. Maestro Wiens is thrilled that attendance is up significantly this year, and he is getting a lot of support from the musical community in Montreal. So far the Cathedral is booked through March so if you can’t make Saturday’s concert, there will be many more opportunities to hear young, talented musicians on their way to the big time.
Chamber Music Without Borders is a Montreal group featuring student musicians whose mission is to make music more accessible to everyone, especially those who might not otherwise have access to high quality concerts. The group regularly plays at drop-in centers for the homeless and senior residences, and does workshops for children.
Saturday’s concert features several other works, by 20th-century composers Maurice Ravel, Erwin Schulhoff and Frank Bridge, performed by Shayna Palevsky on flute and Linda Brady on piano. The entrance fee ranges from free to a voluntary goodwill donation at the door, so there’s no excuse not to take an hour-long well-deserved break on a Saturday afternoon.
Chamber Music Without Borders takes place at Christ Church Cathedral (635 St. Catherine West) Nov 16 at 4:30. Entrance is pwyc.