What distinguishes g27 is the earnest desire to create meaningful connections between the orchestral members and the audience.
Eric Paetkau is on a mission to build an orchestra that belongs to the audience and musicians. This may seem like a strange thing to say, because by what other reasons would an orchestra exist?
Organizing a large number of musicians for a performance is no stroll in the park. All sorts of challenges have to be overcome, such as selecting the right composer to work with, the preparation of all the different parts for 50 plus musicians, and hunting down the perfect venue that will please both the performers and the audience.
It’s a lot to accomplish with the small team and limited resources that group of 27 chamber orchestra is working with as a start-up orchestra.
The orchestra has been a well-oiled machine for numerous centuries, with the requisite bumps throughout history – such as labour relations and the introduction of technology – that touched all aspects of our lives.
For composers it is a great honour to hear their orchestral works premiered, and the sheer spectacle and scale required to put on an orchestral premiere rarely fail to impress an audience. The orchestral experience still holds tremendous power, but the prevalence of video content online has made it much more accessible and common for lay audiences who can’t afford the time or the money to attend.
Enter group of 27, the brainchild of artistic director Eric Paetkau, who is building an orchestra from the ground up with top classical and orchestra musicians, with an artistic vision that encompasses a wide spectrum of arts and culture that’s inclusive of, but not limited to, the traditional repertoires or presentation formats.
What distinguishes g27 from the more established orchestras in the city (even though they share many of the same musicians), is the earnest desire to create meaningful connections between the orchestral members and the audience.
This was the impetus behind the g27 recital series that runs in parallel to the four main-stage performances featuring the full orchestra, the first of which is held on October 8 at 7:30pm in Heliconian Hall.
The recitals are programmed around an artist – such as g27’s principal cellist Rachel Mercer, who is also an active chamber musician. Mercer belongs to the Ensemble Made in Canada quartet, which released a critically-acclaimed debut recording in 2013.
The musical part of the evening runs for an hour, with the rest intended for mingling between artists and audiences, encouraged by the food provided generously by Cheese Magic, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and My Market Bakery.
Artwork by visual artist Paula Arciniega on display and the rotating shows on the walls of Heliconian Hall also make for a truly salon-like evening.
Ensemble Made in Canada will be performing the Dvorak Piano Quartet in E flat Op. 87, and “Snikt, bub!,” a new work written just for the quartet by John B Hedges, referencing the two sounds most commonly associated with Wolverine in the X-men comic series. A perfect balance of a classic, and a pop culture-inspired contemporary work.
By design, the most interesting bits about the program and the artists are not given away beforehand. The story of how “Snikt, bub!” came to be written for EMIC will be revealed as part of the conversation hosted by Paetkau in between works. Mercer will also be sharing stories of her own that audiences don’t always get to hear.
This evening will also mark the launch of g27’s 2014-2015 season, featuring a line-up of great artists for five more recitals during the season, and three full orchestra concerts slated for Nov 7, Jan 30, Apr 16 and June 19. In the spirit of further removing barriers of access to the musical experience, all of the recital performances are pay-what-you-can.
g27 extends a warm invitation for audiences to become more than just spectators, and for all of us to participate in this big experiment. So instead of sitting back and wondering how this could ever work, jump in, show up, and help it grow by simply being a part of it.