“What I like about the Mattina Musica collaborations is that as musicians we’re all searching for the poetry in the music,” says pianist Sarah Hagen.
“We’re looking for the gems in each piece and trying to create something meaningful.”
The second in the Mattina Musica (Italian for morning music) series takes place at the Sid Williams Theatre on Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. Hagen will be joined on stage by cellist Ariel Barnes and harpist Heidi Krutzen. The program contains traditional repertoire as well as contemporary classical music.
Although not new to the music scene, Barnes and Krutzen have recently embarked on a novel musical adventure. Last year they teamed up to create the musical duo Couloir. The name comes from the idea that the world of music can be compared to a Couloir, or corridor, leading to many portals.
Their goal was to explore and expand the repertoire for their chosen instruments. No easy feat that, as music for cello and harp is limited in the extreme.
So they commissioned composers to produce modern classical music that would stretch the conventional sounds of the instruments and investigate their emotional and spiritual elements.
Couloir debuted last fall at Music on Main’s Modulus Festival at Heritage Hall in Vancouver. In addition to touring as Couloir, Barnes and Krutzen also perform as principal cello and principal harp with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, are members of the Turning Point ensemble and teach and perform across Canada and internationally.
They are working on Couloir’s first CD, Clear Music. Their fresh and innovative sound can be previewed at www.indiegogo.com/couloir.
“I’m really excited about what Ari and Heidi are doing,” says Hagen. “They are hot news in the classical music scene.”
At Mattina Musica, Couloir will perform Three Meditations on Light by Jocelyn Morlock and A Monk Dancing by Glenn Buhr, as well as traditional repertoire.
A special touch is the cello Barnes will play courtesy of the Canada Council Instrument Bank. It is a Newland Johannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello built in 1730 in Turin, Italy.
“Another thing I like about the Mattina Music series is that I get to perform with people I really like,” says Hagen. “That doesn’t always happen.”
Born and raised in the Comox Valley and now living in Vancouver, Hagen is no stranger to local stages. And, as audience members know, she brings passion and precision to each piece she performs.
Hagen has played as a soloist in North America and Europe and has appeared as a guest artist with the Victoria Symphony, the Emily Carr String Quartet, Ballet Victoria and many others.
Due to her busy concert schedule Hagen conducted her end of the phone interview from a lobby in the Nanaimo Port Theatre shortly after her concert there.
Two days later she was performing at Surrey Arts Centre, then taking the red-eye special to New York for a performance at Carnegie Hall, where she performed with flautist Krzysztof Kaczka, who played with her at the September Mattina Musica concert in Courtenay.
When asked if her schedule felt hectic, Hagen replied, “It feels like a reward. There is a lot of co-ordinating and planning but I can always cut back on sleep if I have to.”
According to Hagen, each musician involved in a Mattina Musica concert puts together a wish list and the only challenge is paring the selections down to the right length. “We really work together in the spirit of friendship and bringing the music to life,” she says.
A search for music composed for piano, harp and cello resulted in zilch. So Barnes will perform with Krutzen and Hagen separately. The cello/piano duo will include music from Chopin’s Polonaise Brillante.
The morning music series is so popular that this year Hagen is holding it at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, the Surrey Arts Centre and the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam in addition to the Courtenay concerts.
Mattina Musica concerts at the Sid Williams Theatre will include performances with concert master of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Martin Chalifour in February, tenor Ken Lavigne in March and violist Vaida Rozinskaite in April.
Tickets, at $20 for Sid Williams Theatre members and $25 for non-members, are available at the theatre. A complimentary reception with refreshments is held prior to the concert.
Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.