Oboists take centre stage on Saturday night

Oboists Colleen Kennedy, left, and Gwen Buttemer will perform on Saturday.


“The oboe is a narrow channel through which one must push a flood of expression. It takes control and restraint. When I play, I feel all this emotion, expression, concentrated - like a continual knife stabbing at your heart - but never going into - never damaging.” - Robert Bloom

ROBERT Bloom, one of the foremost American oboists, was hailed as one of the last performers of the Golden Era of classical music, a “grand, grand artiste” in the words of Pablo Casals.

It is of great interest that he was a teacher of Colleen Kennedy, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra’s principal oboist, who will heard in the Consortium Aurora Borealis concert this Saturday.

Kennedy will be joined by TBSO key musicians Gwen Buttemer (oboe), Harold Wevers (bassoon), and Marc Palmquist (cello), along with Consortium’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Ganiatsos on harpsichord.

On offer is a pleasurable evening of Baroque music, returning Consortium to its historic roots. The programme includes works by Vivaldi, Handel, Telemann, Quantz, C.P.E. Bach, Heinichen, and Zelenka. “Oboe Virtuosi at the German Courts” celebrates the rich sound of three double-reed woodwind instruments performing together. The royal and ducal courts of 18th-century Germany were seats of vibrant musical culture; this concert connects the audience to specific illustrious oboists of that time, who held their own as virtuosi against other instrumentalists. Of all the winds, the oboe was the most favoured concert instrument during the early 18th century.

Germany differed from the European pattern of one court in the capital city, being divided instead into numerous states, often changing boundaries, each with its own ruler, be it king, duke, prince, elector, or margrave.

Their courts varied in size and opulence, the two largest and most significant musically being Dresden and Berlin. Both were marked by magnificence of setting and highest performance standards.

Composers and highly-skilled musicians, selected by the rulers, were attached to particular courts, with job security and steady income. Court musicians provided music for birthday and name-day celebrations, weddings, baptisms, feast days, visits by high-ranking people, and other important events.

Some virtuosi were allowed to travel to other courts as guests, or go on exchange. Chamber musicians ranked the highest, gaining access to the private chambers of the ruler. Lowest on the scale was the small “oboe band”, used for military parades, court balls, even fireworks.

Consortium concludes its concert with one of these sonatas, involving all five musicians, epitomizing the vision and spirit of evening, as the ravishing sonorities of the three double-reeds catch the audience under their spell.

This concert is sponsored by Joanne Smith, a broker at Century 21 Superior Realty. The Consortium Aurora Borealis is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

After Saturday, the Consortium’s next show is Baroque Brilliance on Nov. 25 at St. Paul’s United Church.

Oboe Virtuosi at the German Courts

Saturday, 8 p.m.

St. Paul’s United Church

Adult/senior $15; student: $10, children under 12: Free

Informative pre-concert talk by oboist Colleen Kennedy

 Elizabeth Ganiatsos is Artistic Director of Consortium Aurora Borealis.

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