KPU, LCMS present concert of ‘New and Improved’ music

Paolo Bortolussi - submitted photo
Paolo Bortolussi
— image credit: submitted photo

Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Langley Community Music School faculty are  once again getting set to welcome the New Year by joining forces to conduct afternoon masterclasses for students, before capping off the day with a free public concert in the evening.

KPU and LCMS will present New and Improved:  Stolen Works for Flute, Strings and Piano, featuring Paolo Bortolussi (flute), Nikita Pogrebnoy (viola), Joel Stobbe (cello), and Jane Hayes (piano) on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the music school in City Park.

The concert program features masterworks by Faure, Saint-Saens, Dvorak, and Martinu.

And with the addition of the Russian-born Pogrebnoy to Kwantlen’s music faculty, this is the first time, the group is able to include a viola in the quartet, which will play Gabriel Faure’s piano Quartet #1, Op. 15 (performed for the first time with flute).  Completing the program is Bohuslav Martinu’s charming Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano.

In keeping with last January’s program, Bortolussi and Hayes continue the theme of burgled romantic violin repertoire, with Camille Saint-Saens’ famous violin showpiece Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

Bortolussi first heard the piece as a music student, and was immediately struck by it.

“I thought it was an amazing piece. I bought a recording and I’ve been listening to it ever since, he said.

“I’ve had a long-term infatuation with the piece. This is a chance to see if it works with flute.”

Prior to last year’s concert, Bortolussi explained that during the 19th century, “there was a big hole in flute repertoire.

“It was a fashionable parlour instrument but it didn’t make it into the major works, because none of the big composers were writing for flute at the time,” he said.

With a dearth of romantic-era repertoire composed for the flute, the musician has taken to “stealing” pieces written for the violin and reconfiguring them.

The process is not a complex one, so much as a continuing one, he explained.

Because the two instruments have a similar range,  the notes themselves are fairly  transcribable, he said.

But because a violin has four strings and a flute only one tube, Bortolussi cannot play multiple notes at once and must choose. Some, he can pass along to the cello, others can be dropped or picked up by other instruments, he explained.

Another challenge he faces is “pizzicato” — the plucking of strings. On flute, the closest he can come is play short, quick notes to create a similar effect.

All four musicians are educators as well as performers, and have given masterclasses and clinics at universities and music schools across Canada and abroad.

As part of its residency at the Langley Community Music School, the ensemble will be leading student performance masterclasses from 2 p.m. 4 p.m. on Jan 12, these classes are also free and are open to the public.

While the Kwantlen instructors — Bortolussi, Pogrebnoy and Hayes — conduct the LCMS master classes, Stobbe, who teaches at the community music school, will offer a lecture to Kwantlen music students.

Part of the reason for the day’s instruction and the evening performance is to let students know that there is a practical, and financially viable local route to a post-secondary music education, said Bortolussi.

“We’re showing students they can stay in Langley.”

With the introduction of a bachelor of music degree, not to mention the presence of a Borealis String Quartet member (Pogrebnoy) now on faculty at Kwantlen, the Langley campus of the university offers an environment where young musicians can thrive, he said.

For more information about the Jan. 12 event, contact the Langley Community Music School at 604-534-2848.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free.

For more information on Kwantlen programs, e-mail: music@kwantlen.ca.

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