We’re in the middle of the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival here on the Sunshine Coast. Last night audiences were treated to “String Theory”, an event of Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, and Mozart. The musicians are truly fine — and it always astonishes me that people who gather together from all over — for this year’s festival, they’ve come from Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and New York City — for rehearsals on Monday or Tuesday play so wonderfully together by the first concert on Thursday evening. (That was “New Sensations” and it was sensational.)
Last night, listening to Mozart’s String Quartet No. 6 in E flat major, K614 beautifully played by Lara St. John, Joyce Lai, Yehonatan Berick, Ian Clarke, and Rachel Mercer, I was taken back to Brno. Music does that. It carries in it memory and history, our own and the culture’s. In 2010 we were in Brno for a lively conference at Masaryk University. We had a few days to explore the city and John and I both fell in love with it (and have returned, and will return again, I hope). In front of the Reduta — a theatre where Mozart performed at the age of 11 — there is a sculpture presiding over both the theatre itself and the Zelný trh, or Cabbage Market.
It’s Mozart, of course — half impish boy, half angel. I think of this sculpture every time I hear his music — the playful and the divine, in perfect balance.
On that visit to Brno, our hosts arranged tickets for an evening of chamber opera at the Reduta. We sat in this room —
— and watched Second Movement’s performance of Bohuslav Martinu’s “The Knife’s Tears” and two short operas performed by the Ensemble Opera Diversa: Lukáš Sommer and Václav Havel’s” Ela, Hela and the Hitchhiking” and Ondrej Kyas and Pavel Drábek’s “The Pumpkin Demon in a Vegetarian Restaurant”. (I can’t seem to get all the diacritics to work here…) It was an exhilarating evening, made even better by the huge table of delicious food and many bottles of beautiful Moravian wines provided for the audience, not to mention the pumpkin confit cooked on stage during the performance of the last opera — can you imagine this? A prep line, the smell of ginger and garlic deliciously filling that glorious red room, and the cast graciously serving the audience after the last notes? As we walked back to our hotel that night, our route punctuated with the soft lights illuminating the Baroque facade of St. Thomas church, I asked John to remind me just why we were leaving Brno the next day. I wanted to stay forever.
And I was transported last night, in a similar way, but driving home down the dark highway, I knew I wasn’t leaving.