“Mirage?” of Thirteen Strings? takes a new approach to classical music

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Thirteen Strings, a Canadian classical orchestra, performs at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Center in Ottawa, Ont. on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. [Photo by Ana Miranda/The Charlatan]

Mirage? challenges all the presumptions of classical music and shows how music can be borderless and touching when presented in a diverse and accessible format. Thirteen Strings’ concert with solo percussionist Beverley Johnston stood out for using a different approach to classical music than traditional orchestras, while creating a beautiful rendition of a diverse and incredible repertoire.

Founded in 1976 as Ottawa’s first professional chamber orchestra, Thirteen Strings is well known for its eclectic approach. The 13 principal musicians change regularly, amplifying the boundaries of each concerto and giving the music a new sound each time they play.

The Mirage? The October 18 concerto at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Center really captured the essence of what Thirteen Strings is. Under the direction of artistic director Kevin Mallon, the public experienced a touching interpretation of classic pieces, with a short explanation and conversation between the compositions.

The first and third pieces of the repertoire, by Antonio Vivaldi and contemporary Canadian composer Christos Hatzis respectively, were performed by Johnston on vibraphone and percussion, backed by the rest of the orchestra on strings.

Not only was Johnston’s clear mastery and understanding of the tunes truly fascinating, but the emotion behind his interpretation and his communication with the rest of the musicians added another layer of depth.

Classical concerts can be static and technical, with no room for emotional interpretation, but interpretations of the four pieces performed in Mirage? were nothing like that. Johnston had so much expression on his body and face that his energy and enthusiasm captivated audiences in all parts of the theater.

Johnston’s acting made audiences feel connected to the plays through her. Not only was his indirect communication amazing, Mallon also addressed the audience directly between tracks. The communication between music, musicians and people was natural and inviting.

Before the final piece, a beautiful rendition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s romantic ‘Serenade for Strings’, Mallon spoke about his own relationship to the piece and how he wanted it to be performed the way he thought the composer would really have it. wanted: “Marcatissimo!” he said. “But it never played out like that.”

Mirage? highlighted the essence of classical music and how different interpretations of classical pieces can be. Even if they are technically identical, each musical composition is always played and interpreted in a different way.

The sincerity of Mirage? was touching and caring. The love the musicians had for what they played was tangible to anyone in the room. The diversity of it all was amazing – their repertoire was diverse, containing pieces from the Baroque era to the Romantic era, from modern to contemporary.

Whether you are a fan of classical music or not, watching Thirteen Strings is an unforgettable experience. In its beautiful, diverse and innovative way, Mirage? left audiences wanting to stay there a bit longer. Thirteen Strings will return to the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Theater on December 6 for their Christmas concert, joy to the world. Tickets are available on their website.


Image selected by Ana Miranda.

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