Oakville Chamber Orchestra: A Baroque Festival

It’s so exciting to enjoy live music again. Last week I saw the Toronto Symphony. This afternoon I went with friends to see & hear the Oakville Chamber Orchestra in a baroque program featuring Vivaldi, Lully, JS Bach and Domenico Scarlatti at St Simon’s Church, led by their music director Charles Demuynck.

I’m again thinking about trade-offs. With the TSO using only 50 players and limiting capacity to 50% they not only lessen the hazard of inhaling airborne droplets carrying coronavirus, they also improve the acoustics. Imagine the same thing (the safety and the acoustical benefits) on an even smaller scale. At St Simon’s we were only permitted to sit in every second row, enjoying the sounds of roughly 20 players.

We heard Bach’s keyboard concerto BWV 1052; Symphonies #17, 7, 3 and 10 from D Scarlatti; a suite from Lully’s music for Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme; and a Vivaldi concerto for 2 violins in A Minor that may be familiar to you when reconstituted on the organ by Bach.

I spoke of trade-offs. We hear the rosin on the bows vibrating the strings. We hear anxious players sometimes making sounds before they’re cued to begin. Everyone is exposed because of the intimacy of the space, and there are plenty of opportunities for eye contact too.

I’m especially enamored of Lully, the greatest composer who is mostly unknown, a huge success in his time but often misunderstood nowadays. In Opera as Drama Joseph Kerman dismisses him, without having a clue how his operas work. Not only are his operas worth a look, his music is gorgeous: as we heard today from the OCO.

Jason Cheng was the excellent soloist in the Bach concerto on the piano, a pianist I hope to hear again someday.

Next came four brief symphonies from Domenico Scarlatti, the last a veritable oboe concerto, brilliantly played. I wish I knew which oboist listed in the program (either Wendy Bornstein or Heather Ryan) was the soloist. Perhaps they’ll tell me?

Aha I hear that it’s Wendy Bornstein. She also has awesome hair by the way.

To close we heard Vivaldi’s concerto for two violins played by concertmaster Alain Bouvier and David Rehner.

As I look at the OCO’s upcoming concerts, I have to admit that not only does Music director Charles Demuynck have a clear & steady baton, not only does he curate a season of fascinating musical selections, but he’s also very entertaining in his introductions to the pieces.

Oakville Chamber Orchestra Music Director Charles Demuynck

Demuynck and the OCO will be back with three different programs in 2022. For further information have a look at their webpage.

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