This past weekend Brampton’s own Rose Orchestra held its second show of the season, featuring the talent of pianist Koichi Inoue and the season debut of the Rosebud Orchestra. Entitled Earth, Sea & Sky, the night’s itinerary featured songs inspired by the elements, from rolling waves and basalt caves of the Scottish coast in Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture to the great gas giant of our solar system in Jupiter The Bringer of Jollity from Holst’s world renowned suite The Planets.
Brampton Rose Orchestra performed the first act of the show, with music in many forms. Hebrides Overture generated images of awe, as if telling an epic tale of the creation of the universe, then moments of whimsy, as if walking happily along a harbour on a sunny day. The Moldau from Smetana’s My County created visions of the splendour of nature in forests and countryside, scenes of a bustling village morning, and ended with a stream swirling down the rapids of a waterfall and calming into the proud majesty of a grand river.
While the music swayed the audience to the tunes of earth, sea and sky, the anchor of its storytelling was the orchestra’s conductor, Richard Hoenich. Before each piece, he engaged the audience in stories of the music to come. He spoke of its history, the composer and the places that inspired each creation. One could hear the excitement in his voice as he told jokes and wove images of the lands and people that gave life to the music. His interludes laid bare the passion and inspiration involved in music, not only for the composers, but for those with the opportunity to perform or hear it.
Following intermission, the Brampton Rosebud Orchestra took the stage. If one listened without reading the program, one would assume to be hearing any professional orchestra. Imagine the surprise upon learning that this orchestra is comprised almost entirely of children between the ages of eight and eighteen! Flute and cello, trumpet and bassoon, a baker’s dozen of violins and more, all playing the scores of Beethoven and other musical masters. The Rosebuds are a complete ensemble of twenty-four young musicians with talent that rivals professionals.
Few of us at those ages ever learned to play an instrument; fewer still maintained the discipline to go beyond a beginner’s level. So to hear the Rosebuds play, considering the dedication it took to practice daily to reach a skill worthy of joining an orchestra, makes their performance nothing short of remarkable.
As enjoyable as the concert was thus far, the true magic came in its closing act. All night I had anticipated the final performance featuring the pianist, Koichi Inoue. He is a Brampton based musician who earned his Doctor of Music in Piano Performance degree and taught at universities across the continent, performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and is a founder of the Brampton Chamber Music Concert Series. Knowing these accomplishments, my expectations were high, but what happened next was something beyond my imagination.
Picture yourself in the Rose Theatre, a darkened hall of rich, red brown wood, giving focus to the brightly lit centre stage. A grand orchestra is giving an intense performance, its music like a ship in the peril of a deep sea in a rolling storm. You watch the pianist, sitting silently, wringing his hands in anticipation, wanting to join in, but knowing the time is not yet ripe. The music decrescendos, growing quiet. Any moment, you think, he is about to begin. The band makes a blast, like the starting pistol of a race, and Inoue takes to the keys and plays!
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
You read that right! The house erupted in laughter on hearing the antic. Only it wasn’t an antic. The program simply referred to the score as Opus 25, omitting the truth revealing title Variations on a Nursery Tune and its endearing subtitle For the enjoyment of humorous people and for the annoyance of others. This piece is purposefully both professional and childlike. It danced along a variety of sweet melodies, with the nursery rhyme working as a hidden guide to each change. It was a fantastic piece. Mr. Inoue’s hands flowed across the keys like water, with gentility and grace. What I loved most was that he did not steal the show or overpower the orchestra. Instead, the two worked as one, melded into perfection.
It was a wonderful night, full of music and a true showcase of talent and passion. I only hope that more of Brampton will come to future performances of both orchestras, as I’m sure they will be excellent events for music lovers.
Their next concert Celebrate! will be held on Saturday December 6th at 8pm, including performances by the W.G. Davis Choir and The Rock School.