Our Town

KCT hosting Chamber Music Festival

Rivka Golani, considered one of the great violists of modern times, is the artistic director of the upcoming SoWeCa Chamber Music Festival, which will open at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre on Friday, May 23. - For the Townsman
Rivka Golani, considered one of the great violists of modern times, is the artistic director of the upcoming SoWeCa Chamber Music Festival, which will open at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre on Friday, May 23.
— image credit: For the Townsman

The Key City Theatre remains a busy and eventful place as summer approaches, with many bookings in May and June, a festival next month, and even events when the theatre would traditionally have been closed.

Once school lets out, the theatre usually takes a two-month hiatus. However, this year there will be events at the Key in July and August.

"We are not presenting anything on our own over the summer but we are providing that service," said Gerard Gibbs, managing director. "We will be here a bit more often than what was traditional."

This week, the theatre was forced to announce the cancellation of a concert presenting Lisa Marie Presley, slated for June 27, which had sold several hundred tickets.

"She is just off an Australia-Japan tour and she has just become completely exhausted, and the doctor ordered that she take a break. So at this point she has cancelled the North American leg of the tour," said Gibbs.

But keeping up the tempo at the Cranbrook theatre will be the SoWeCa Chamber Music Festival, coming to the Key on Friday, May 23.

The festival will bring 11 world-class musicians to Cranbrook, under the direction of Rivka Golani, professor of viola at London’s prestigious Trinity College of Music and one of the great violists of modern times.

SoWeCa, which stands for South West Canada, is a festival that ran out of the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod from 2005 to 2011, a partnership between Golani and Gibbs, himself an acclaimed oboist and concert producer.

The festival has been reborn this year, since Gibbs took the head position at the Key City Theatre. It will include four performances: opening night in Cranbrook on May 23, a recital program at Fernie’s Knox United Church on May 24, a special performance at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump near Fort Macleod on May 25, and the conclusion on May 26 at the University of Lethbridge’s Recital Hall.

“In Fernie we are doing an entirely unique program. It’s a recital program - in a way, very old fashioned but still very engaging for the audience because all of the musicians get to stand up and perform a solo piece, usually a very flashy show piece. So one after another we all take our turns. It’s a very entertaining program for the audience,” said Gibbs.

The concert at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump reflects the festival’s relationship with the Blackfoot Nation. And Golani was recently given an honorary degree from the University of Lethbridge, hence the performance there.

The musicians performing at the festival come from Canada and the United Kingdom. They include John Lowry, concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic; Andrew Brown, assistant principal viola in the Vancouver Symphony, and Noam Buchman, principal flute in the Jerusalem Symphony.

SoWeCa commissioned three new works that will premiere at the festival. David Jaegar’s Thunder and Raven will be performed for the first time at the Key City Theatre on Friday, May 23. Charles Heller’s Two Ravens and Benjamin Ellin’s Baker Massacre 1870 will premiere at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump on May 25.

Prior to the concert in Cranbrook, University of Lethbridge professor of music Brian Black will give a talk on the pieces set to be performed that evening.

“It will give the audience a chance to learn more about the background of the pieces and the musicians,” said Gibbs. “We find that audience members really enjoy that opportunity. In most cases, the vast majority of the audience comes in advance for the pre-concert talk.”

In future years, the festival will involve more Kootenay musicians, Gibbs said, adding that he hopes to involve the Ktunaxa Nation and Cranbrook’s youth community in the event.

“We just wanted to get it off the ground and give people an opportunity to see what this is all about. It’s something that we have built over time. We plan to work more closely with musicians here in the community,” said Gibbs. “We have discussed a number of ideas and you will see that come to fruition the following year.”

The Key City Gallery is also vibrant and active with new exhibits scheduled into the fall.

Currently the works of Sharon Routley and Brandon Peters are on display and in May we will showcase the art of Anton Zanesco.  From brilliant abstracts to symbolism filled Canadian Landscapes to portraits depicting aboriginals and spirit, Anton’s works will be the perfect complement the Soweca festival.  For June and the summer months the gallery will be home to archival photographs depicting the early years of Cranbrook and School District Number 5.

The Gallery is open 10-4 Monday to Friday, and the public is invited to come and view the exhibits — and maybe take home a wonderful local work of art.

Tickets to the SoWeCa Chamber Music Festival cost $30 for adults and $10 for students. For more information, visit www.soweca.com.

Those who have tickets to see Lisa Marie Presley can contact the Key City Theatre at 250-426-7006 for a refund.

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