The renowned Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival celebrates its 16th edition this year, featuring 250 star musicians performing two weeks of superb programming from July 25 to August 8.
The world’s largest chamber music festival, Ottawa’s Chamberfest ’09 launched at the French Embassy in the nation’s capital on May 20, hosted by François Delattre, Ambassador of France to Canada, and Glenn Hodgins, executive director of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, the festival presenter.
Over 90 indoor and outdoor concerts and events are scheduled, much expanded from the festival’s initial 22 concerts in 1994.
In the program book, Mr. Hodgins notes that the festival’s “greatness is best defined by the remarkable chemistry that exists between audience and performer.”
Beyond this chemistry, what makes the festival special and keeps musicians and concertgoers returning is the connections among the volunteers, sponsors, staff, board of directors, and the many others who work together to make the event a reality, he said.
More than 300 volunteers are helping to make this year’s festival a success. And to get a good seat, people typically stand in line for hours outside the venues which include heritage sites and historic churches.
In a news release, Mr. Hodgins encouraged patrons to take “an extraordinary journey of music” as they delight in the festival’s “delicious mix of core favourites blended with the bold flavours of new collaborations.”
This year the artistic directors are the members of the Juno award-winning Gryphon Trio: cellist Roman Borys, violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, and pianist Jamie Parker.
Chamberfest will open with a spectacular benefit concert by Grammy and Juno award winner James Ehnes and Jon Kimura Parker performing music from Mozart, Ravel, and Prokofiev.
Performances by Les Voix Baroques, Juno award winner Ensemble Caprice, soprano Ann Monoyios, the Ottawa Bach Choir, and Festival Baroque Consort will charm devotees of early music
New music of excellence will be presented by the Molinari Quartet, Toca Loca, Gary Hayes and the Ottawa New Music Creators, Doreen Taylor-Claxton, and Frédérec Lacroix, among others, while composer-performer Gary Kulesha hosts the New Music Dialogues series.
Next Generation concerts will feature 14-year-old virtuoso pianist Jan Lisiecki and the hot new Afiara Quartet. The popular Rising Stars concert will showcase accomplished young artists.
Composer-pianist Heather Schmidt will perform a world-premiere piece celebrating 19th-century and contemporary female composers as part of the Soaring Beyond Expectation – Women in Composition concert series.
Chamberfest ’09 will feature European musicologist Harry Halbreich at eight morning Musical Musings programs. Two additional morning presentations will feature master bow maker Yung Chin.
Violinist James Ehnes, pianists Jon Kimura Parker and André Laplante, and the young artists of Time for Three will facilitate Meet the Artists sessions.
Young People’s Concerts will entertain as well as educate about the wonders of the string quartet, wind instruments, marionettes, and music composition.
Families can look forward to contributing to music making while biking or walking the route of the Rideau Canal Festival Bicycle Parade on Saturday afternoon, August 1. The next afternoon, Chamberfest artists will perform on decorated boats and other locations as part of the Rideau Canal Festival’s Flotilla.
The popular Late Night series is set to offer 15 nights of classical, jazz, and world music at Saint Brigid’s Emerald Club starting at 10:30 p.m.
Along with an energizing concert by James Campbell and Gene DiNovi celebrating the 100th anniversary of Benny Goodman’s birth, Chamberfest will highlight masterpieces by Haydn and Mendelssohn as it marks the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s death and Mendelssohn’s birth.
The festival closes with an outstanding benefit concert starring renowned soprano Donna Brown, the Festival Cello Ensemble, St. Lawrence String Quartet, and Ying Quartet performing works from Mendelssohn, Villa-Lobos, and Osvaldo Golijov.
Music lovers can also catch free concerts on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence.
Visit www.chamberfest.com or call 613-234-6306 for more information. Festival passes and tickets go on sale May 21.