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Chamberfest: jazz for classical music fans

See our story about the 2013 Chamberfest.

The Ottawa ChamberFest is programming a series of jazz concerts this year for people who like classical music.

Festival artistic director Roman Borys said the groups chosen all had "a foot in the classical realm". Some musicians, he said, had started playing classical music and had found they were now ready to move on to jazz or jazz-classical mixtures.

Most of the jazz concerts will be at St. Brigid's Centre in Lowertown, which Borys described as "a great jazz room", especially the late night concerts which will be set up in a café style.

The most prominent jazz artist will be veteran Canadian pianist Gene DiNovi, playing with two equally well-known Canadians: bassist Dave Young and drummer Terry Clarke. Although DiNovi is best known for his jazz and film compositions, he also collaborated with classical clarinetist James Campbell to create "Jazz in a Classical Key". DiNovi will be playing August 3 at 8 p.m.; the show will include a large-ensemble presentation of his Scandinavian Suite (1958), as well as a set of standards with Young and Clarke.

Other jazz-related concerts include:

  • Time for Three (July 25, 3 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.): a mixture of classical, country, gypsy, and jazz
  • Norteno ("Tango Nuevo") (July 27, 8 p.m.): celebrating Astor Piazzolla's evolution of the tango genre
  • Creaking Tree String Quartet (July 29, 10:30 p.m.): "folk, bluegrass, and jazz-inspired and genre-defying"
  • Mark Fewer and John Novacek (August 3, noon): pieces by Milhaud, Carter, and Anetheil "with a notable jazz influence"

Ottawa improvising percussionist Jesse Stewart will bring his ensemble to the festival on August 1 at 10:30 p.m. "exploring the elements as defined by Chinese tradition, using instruments made of stone, wood, metal, fire, and water". Stewart has used these elements separately in previous performances in Ottawa, but not combined in one performance. When Ottawa Jazz Scene mentioned Stewart as one of the jazz performances in the festival, Borys disagreed. He said Stewart didn't play  jazz: "he creates soundscapes."

The festival will also repeat its collaboration with the Rideau Canal Festival. The Musical Breeze Bicycle Parade will be held on July 31 at 2 p.m. Highly popular last year, this event invites local cyclists to bike along the Rideau Canal to Ottawa City Hall, both listening to and participating in the music along the way (with their bells, voices, and any other noisemakers they can get on a bike). The three percussionists currently scheduled for spots along the parade are the Torq Percussion Ensemble, Ryan Scott, and Jesse Stewart (who also played last year).

More, information is available at www.chamberfest.com. You can buy passes and tickets there or by calling the Chamber Music Society office at 613-234-6306. Tickets or passes bought by April 30 will not be charged the HST.

– Alayne McGregor