We are half-way through the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival here on the Sunshine Coast. Though the days are grey and damp, the mood of those of us who help to organize the Festival is exuberant. It’s going so well. The musicians are stellar, the audiences (the concerts are sold-out) enthusiastic, the big baskets of flowers we gather and arrange each year are glorious, and the thought of three more concerts (this afternoon, this evening, and tomorrow afternoon) makes me pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

John and I are hosting the composer Kelly-Marie Murphy and her husband Greg Van Bavel. Kelly was commissioned by the Festival to compose a piano quintet in celebration of our 10th anniversary. The work, In a World of Motion and Distance, received its world premiere on Thursday evening, performed by the Lafayette String Quartet and pianist (and Festival Artistic Director) Alexander Tselyakov. It’s a stunning piece. (Look for the recording, released at the Festival on Thursday evening, along with the Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57, which will close the Festival on Sunday afternoon.)

It’s been really interesting to talk with Kelly about composing (and everything else under the sun), to realize the afinities with my own creative process — the gathering of material, allowing it to settle, recognizing the spark that ignites the imagination. She has a fine and graceful mind and it’s such a pleasure to have her here. John and I are already wondering if we can be in Ottawa in November for the premiere of her Blue on Blue: Unthinkable Distance,Unspeakable Sorrow, a work commissioned by the Ottawa Symphony’s music director, David Currie, to celebrate the orchestra’s 50th anniversary season. (For more information about this project, visit Kelly’s website:

This is how summer passes — beautiful music under August skies, the friendships begun on terraces by the ocean, and the knowledge that both the music and the conversations will continue.

pre-festival dinner