After a six-year absence from St. Albert Chamber Music Society’s performances, Leanne Regehr and Janna Olson return to St. Albert United Church for a performance of Hidden Gems.
Taking place Sunday, Nov. 26, the classically trained pianists will perform a four-hand repertoire on a single piano. The music highlights composers who were marginalized, silenced or simply not heard. Others were well-received in their era but drifted into obscurity over time.
“One gift at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement was it allowed us time to discover women in music who were not heard. There’s a movement in music now called ‘expanding the canon’. It means it’s not just dead white guys. There are so many other composers that have written wonderful pieces of music that haven’t been heard,” said Regehr.
Olson and Regehr have been best friends for more than 20 years and in that time evolved into musical collaborators and teaching colleagues at Kings University. Both have impeccable credentials and are deeply passionate about inspiring students to explore piano pedagogy.
For the opening of Hidden Gems, the duo chose Amy Beach’s Summer Dreams, a suite of six movements inspired by poetic quotations. Following closely is Canadian composer Christine Donkin’s Bay of Rainbows and Sea of Tranquility.
“Christine Donkin is a wonderful composer. Bay of Rainbows and Sea of Tranquility are very decorative with rich textures. She has a harmonic language that is very complex and evocative, and you get wrapped up in it,” Regehr said.
Ending the first set are two French romantic compositions - Cécile Chaminade’s Pièces Romantiques and Maire Jaell’s 12 Valses and Finale. Both made their mark during the last half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.
“Chaminade was a well-known composer who wrote in all kinds of genres. The pieces we play will feel like a salon in Paris. There’s a lightness and instant appeal to her music. And Jaell was the first pianist in Paris to perform all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. It was massive and it’s something that has to be done over several recitals.”
Opening the concert’s second set is Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's (sister to Frederick Mendelssohn) Drei Klavierstücke zu vier Händen (Three Pieces for Four Hands).
“She was a fabulous pianist and composer. Some of her pieces were published under her brother’s name. But for this piece, there is a question of whether she tried them out while she was alive. One of the notes is a bit off and there’s no date on it.”
Closing the evening is 20th-century Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk’s Three Jazz Pieces.
“He was very influential in bringing jazz to Ukraine. He was a composer, conductor and he wrote film scores. Three Jazz Pieces is entertaining, fun to play and a wonderful way to end the concert."
Opening the concert are pianists Aidan Lai and Mia Friedenthal, recipients of the 2023 Rose Bowl, St. Albert Rotary Music Festival’s highest honour. The duo will perform Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 1.
The concert is Sunday, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. at 20 Green Grove Dr. Tickets are $15 to $30 at Musée Heritage or Eventbrite.