St. Albert Chamber Music Society launches season with a combo of classical and popular contemporary melodies


Since its genesis eight years ago, The St. Albert Chamber Music Society has enjoyed an upward trajectory of high quality musicianship and enthusiastic audience response.

Much of the society’s success is due to founder Nancy Watt’s mission to showcase professional musicians as well as nurture emerging artists with equal commitment and respect.

“My philosophy all along, and is still my focus, is to bring in new groups and to provide the series with a lot of variety. I’ve met both standards and I’m very excited about the new season,” said Watt.

In a fresh twist, the 2017-2018 series launches Saturday, Oct. 14 at Red Willow Place (formerly 50 + Club)  with two quintets formed from the Royal Canadian Artillery Band – the Brass Quintet and the Woodwind Quintet.

Not only are the RCA Band’s 35 professional musician-soldiers well versed in military marches. They are also top flight players of jazz, rock, pop and light chamber works.

“They reached out to me. They want to have a presence in the community, in particular because many live here. For many, St. Albert is their home and they want to play for their community,” Watt said.

The two quintets are building a program of their choosing with multiple genres in play. In addition they will pull solos, duets and trios from the blend of 10 musicians.

As late autumn strikes, Trio de Moda arrives on the scene on Saturday, Nov. 18. Formed in April 2017, the string trio is anticipated to turn heads with their style, flair and musical charisma.

Shaped out of a friendship formed in 2016, and through a joint connection playing with  Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the trio is composed of St. Albert raised violinist Neda Yamach, cellist Kathleen de Caen and violist Clayton Leung.

“A string trio is not as common as a quartet and there’s not as many. The cello will fill in as the bass. And unlike a string quartet there is no second violin. The music will have a slightly different tweak.

Once the calendar flips into the new year, Rolston String Quartet, top prize winners of the prestigious 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition will be featured on Sunday, Feb. 11.

“This international competition is held every three years with musicians from all over the world. This is the first Canadian group to win the first prize,” noted Watt.

The dynamic musicians are violinists Luri Lee and Jeffrey Dyrda, violist Hezekiah Leung and cellist Jonathan Lo.

When not touring internationally and at home, the ensemble resides as the quartet-in-residence at Houston’s Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

St. Albert Chamber Music Society also hosted Dover Quartet, the Banff competition’s top 2013 winners.

“Banff was very happy with the hosting job we did and they are eager for us to host again. It’s a nice partnership and it’s been quite a feather in our cap.”

As spring reveals its face, the Vancouver-based Luchow-Jarvis Duo trek east to entertain fans. Formed in 2007, former St. Albert violinist Paul Luchow and harpsichordist Michael Jarvis explore early repertoire from the 17th century.

“They are specialists in early music – Renaissance and early Baroque. At that time there were very different instruments and the music is different.”

Instruments of choice are originals from that era or replica violins, violas, harpsichords and fortepianos.

“The music is very elegant. It’s very refined. There’s a precision to it, and the harpsichord has such a delightful, full sound to it. It’s a wonderful showcase of instruments you don’t often see.”

Closing the series on Saturday, April 21 is the Regehr-Olson Piano Duo, a duet known for its technical chops and intuitive panache.

Leanne Regehr and Janna Olson met during graduate studies in 2002 at the University of Alberta. Their similar passion for pedagogy and collaboration resulted in a deeply-rooted and sincere friendship that has lasted more than a decade.

Although their programs are diverse, both pianists enjoy featuring Canadian composers.

For Watt it’s all about showcasing superb, yet diverse classical chamber musicians and enjoying singular performances.

“There are a lot of new performers this season and there is such a wide variety of music to enjoy.”

Season adult tickets are $140. Singles are $35. The senior/youth series runs at $120, and singles are $30. They can be purchased at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, 19 Perron St., 780-460-4310 or at Musée Heritage, 5 St. Anne Street, 780-459-1528.




About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.