ENSEMBLE THINKS LOCAL
Erato draws on an eclectic blend of vocal and instrumental styles
David Gordon Duke, Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, November 15, 2008
THE ERATO ENSEMBLE PRESENTS THE GREAT SEA
3rd annual Vancouver Composers Concert
Saturday, November 15, 8 p.m.
St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church
1022 Nelson St., at Burrard
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"First off, we're not a choir," explains William George, rather firmly. "Nor are we a strictly contemporary ensemble."
The Erato Ensemble, which begins its third season tonight, has a rotating population of between six and 15 members, and performs an eclectic vocal and instrumental repertoire prepared to stretch from madrigals all the way up to last Tuesday.
George is originally from California and knows the new music and vocal scenes in both his home state and New York; the initial impetus for Erato was based in part on his experience running contemporary ensemble New Music New York.
Soon after moving to Vancouver in 2006, George and co-founder Catherine Laub, who had herself recently relocated from New Jersey, began to plan. Laub is a soprano, George a tenor and composer, and they quickly decided that in order to work locally they'd better start making their own opportunities. Hence the Erato "art-song chamber collective" named, quite appropriately, for the muse of lyric poetry. The enterprise combines voices with -- as occasion demands --cello, clarinet, flute, pipa, guitar, saxophone, double bass, violin and piano. The co-founders "put out feelers and were surprised -- and a little shocked -- that so many good Vancouver musicians were interested in a grassroots group with no funding."
Erato's season opener this year, The Great Sea, is billed as "the third annual Vancouver Composers Concert ... reflecting our intention to bring the music of B.C. composers to the community," and features four world premieres. It's really a snapshot of 21st-century Vancouver, designed to reflect the realities of our multicultural town. The concert combines works that are French- Canadian, first nations, Chinese, Japanese and Persian (as well as "traditional" classical) in inspiration and flavour. Mark Armanini contributes Chinese Folk Songs and some voice and guitar duets, followed by Lloyd Burritt's Lake of Souls, Farshid Samandari's SunarcanaS and a "communal composition" Qanimenskan Ku Tmicw by Russell Wallace. Other, just slightly older works by Denis Bedard, Timothy Corlis and Leslie Uyeda are scheduled, plus three of Rodney Sharman's wickedly sly Cabaret Songs.
The rest of the Erato 2008-09 season has a decidedly international arc. The Black Forest on Jan. 24 is an all-German-themed evening with Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes as the core, with some Schubert, Kurt Weill and the premiere of Larry Nickel's Songs of the Wasteland. The March 28 concert moves to Paris for An Evening with Erik Satie and on May 16 it's off to Latin America for Tangos, Ballads y Boleros.
The concerts will be held at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. See www.eratoensemble.com for further details.With their flexible programming mandate and solid pool of committed musicians, the possibilities for Erato look extremely promising.
The Vancouver Sun