Classical music aficionados have a wonderful weekend of music lined up as the sixth annual Centric Music Festival, which features six concerts July 6-8.
“All of our performers have a southern Alberta connection this year,” observed artistic director/executive director Ryan Kolodziej.
One of the biggest changes to the festival this year, is incorporating two new venues — the Lethbridge Public Library and Cité Des Prairies in addition to Casa.
“We held all the concerts at Casa last year,” continued Montreal-based Kolodziej, who is doing triple duty for this festival, which he has had to organize from his adopted home in Montreal, where he teaches piano at the private school College Stanislas.
“I had to do a lot of Skype dates. I had a lot of personal meetings during the fundraiser earlier this year, which is important to do,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of support. Fortunately we have a board now and it’s still growing. We’ll probably have another member after this festival too. And and my father has been really supportive,” he said, adding he looked at Cité Des Prairies as a venue last year.
“But it was all booked up. So I look forward to hearing the acoustics in Cité Des Prairies this year,” he said.
Centric begins with the first gala concert Friday, July 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Casa, featuring Cuban-born, Lethbridge-based international guitar sensation Iliana Matos, hailed by critics as “the guitar guru” and “powerful and intense” by Classical Guitar Magazine. She is professor of guitar at the University of Lethbridge Department of Music, a prize winner of multiple international competitions and one of the world’s foremost performers of Ibero-American guitar music. She will perform a selection of works by Eduardo Martin, Joaquin Malats, Agustin Barrios Mangoré and others.
“She took over from Dale Ketcheson. We’re going to have Dale do a pre-show talk with her before the concert. So it will be like a passing of the torch,” Kolodziej said.
He is excited about playing with Edmonton-born, Montreal-based, Juno Award-winning violinist Andrew Wan during the highly anticipated closing gala concert on Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Originally from Edmonton, he is also artistic partner of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a member of the New Orford Quartet. He has been a soloist with major symphonies throughout North America and has performed worldwide with artists such as the Juilliard Quartet, Daniil Trifonov, Vadim Repin, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, Marc-André Hamelin, Jörg Widmann, Menaham Pressler, and Cho- Liang Lin. Collaborating with pianist and Kolodziej, Wan will present Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances and the sublime Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100 by Brahms.
Crowning this concert is Franck’s transcendent Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major. Each gala concert allows the audience an opportunity to be up close and personal with the artists with an informal Q&A to take place at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re lucky to get him. He’s playing a festival in Seattle, so the schedule worked out and personally I’m excited to perform with him and collaborate,” he said, adding he hopes the Centric music festival will lead to future collaborations between the musicians.
The major collaboration of Centric Festival is the final gala concert featuring most of Centric’s artists performing the music of Claude Debussy at it is his centennial (1862-1918) on Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. Wan collaborate with Kolodziej to present Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances and the Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100 by Brahms.
The concert ends with Franck’s transcendent Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major. Another big change is the addition of two afternoon/matinee performances at the Lethbridge Public Library.
“We got a lot of feedback from the audience last year who wanted afternoon concerts because for some people even 7:30 p.m. is too late. And it is important to listen to your audience,” he said, noting one of the highlights will be performances by Lethbridge trio Opus 3, including violinist Airdrie Robinson, cellist Christine Bootland, and pianist John-Paul Ksiazek performing darker works of the chamber music repertoire on Saturday, July 7 at 2:30 p.m.
The major collaborative concert featuring most of Centric’s artists will feature the music of Claude Debussy at it is his centennial (1862-1918) on Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m.
“It is a contrast, because they are also playing darker works in the Dance of Death Concert at 2:30, July 7 featuring works of Robert Schumann, Samuel Barber and Dmitri Shostakovich.”
Another new event is a tribute to female composers. “She Shines on this Earth,” is at 2:30 p.m. at the Lethbridge Public Library. Sunday, July 8 features mezzo-soprano Camille Rogers and pianist Perri Lo performing of the works of Clara Schumann, opera diva Isabella Colbran and Nadia Boulanger.
“This is mezzo-soprano Camille Rogers’ idea. It’s quite an interesting topic She has done a lot of research into it. It is works by women who were mothers and wives, but who also were composers. Clara Schumann was Robert Schumann’s wife,” he said.
He noted there has already been a lot of interest in the Centric music Festival.
“ We’ve sold a lot of advance tickets this year. Last year when I took over, I heard about last minute Lethbridge and I was starting to freak out because we only sold about three in advance,” he said, adding he is still expecting to sell a lot more tickets at the door.
Tickets for the Gala concerts are now $50. Tickets for the afternoon concerts are now $30.