Imagine, if you can, a group of stringed instruments being part of a family, each with his or her own personality.
The steady elder double bass is the root, keeping the pace with his rather weighty resonance. His sister, the cello, may sit a little higher on the register, but she always says the right thing with her calm and solemn presence. Their younger siblings, the violins, are often bickering on who will take the spotlight, but when they play in unison, they create such harmonious melodies. And then there’s their rather earthy cousin, the viola. She’s the mellow one, but can deliver fire when it’s her turn to solo.
Each instrument has a role to play, as will be seen and heard when Montreal’s cutting-edge classical string ensemble collectif9 plays the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Sunday.
“We try to create an entire world for the audience with lights, set design, and amplification, playing our own unique arrangements of (often folk-inspired) classical music,” said Andrea Stewart, one of two cellists in the group. “Vernon can expect to experience an energetic performance showcasing the personality of each musician without losing the cohesion we need in chamber music. Every concert for us is an opportunity to share with you, the audience, and that is fun.”
Collectif9 has been attracting diverse audiences in varied spaces since 2011 and has since played more than 80 concerts across North America, Europe and Asia, including outdoor concerts at Canadian summer festivals, winter tours in the north, and Christmas in China.
The ensemble’s debut recording Volksmobile, released in 2016, and subsequent tour expands upon the folk melodies and rhythms audiences have come to expect in a collectif9 performance, but integrates an ironic flavour with works by Mahler, Ligeti, Gabriel Prokofiev, and others. These original arrangements are said to feature textures and special instrumental effects that transport the listener out of the concert hall and into a world of fantasy and imagery.
As one astute observer at the Ottawa Chamberfest noted: “This, ladies and gentlemen, is where chamber music is going.”
During the 2017-18 season, collectif9 will return to Asia with concerts in China and South Korea. The group will appear in Ontario, B.C., and the Northwest Territories, as well as in communities around Montreal as part of Conseil des arts de Montréal en tournée .
With the support of the Canada Council’s New Chapter program and in collaboration with Architek Percussion, collectif9 has commissioned a complete show from composers Derek Charke, Nicole Lizée, Eliot Britton, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Bret Higgins, with words by Kaie Kellough. The Montreal premiere of the show will take place in the spring of 2018.
The musicians in collectif9 include: Thibault Bertin-Maghit (bass and arrangements), Scott Chancey (viola), Jérémie Cloutier (cello), John Corban (violin), Yubin Kim (violin), Robert Margaryan (violin), Elizabeth Skinner (violin), Andrea Stewart (cello), Jennifer Thiessen (viola), and Rufat Aliev (sound engineer).
Opening for collectif9’s performance in Vernon is local pianist Craig Matterson, an 18-year-old graduate of W.L. Seaton Secondary School.
Matterson started taking piano lessons at a very young age and currently studies with Geoff Barker at the Vernon Community Music School. He has also studied jazz with local keyboardist/producer Henry Piovesan, and has taken masterclasses with various musicians, including Sarah Hagen.
Matterson plays numerous genres, including classical, jazz, and alternative rock. He is getting ready to take a Royal Conservatory (RCM) exam, and is composing various pieces. He is also writing new songs with his band daysormay (formally //AMISTAD//), which just returned from a tour in Ontario.
NOCCA’s presentation of collectif9 takes place Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre. Individual tickets for this presentation are now half price, $20 for adults and $10 for youth/students 18 and under, available by calling the Ticket Seller box office at 250-549-7469. More information can be found at nocca.ca or on NOCCA’s Facebook page.