This concert was an initiative of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society; this particular event was part of their "Music For All" outreach program that also takes place in schools, long term care centres, and such.
The arts are not for the privileged few but for the many. Their place is not on the periphery of daily life, but at its center. (John D. Rockefeller)Before the music began, Tina Fededsky came forward to tell the audience how music empowers children and builds a sense of community and how the OrKidstra venture in Ottawa had "grown beyond our wildest dreams."
Their discipline is very strict, as can be deduced from the way the listening children sat still. The first item was the first movement of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, played with tremendous energy and concentration by students and professionals together, ten violinists, six violists, 6 'cellists and a double bass player. Because they were all wearing OrKidstra T-shirts, you could not at first tell them apart. It must be wonderful for the music students to share in the creation of such a confident sound as this.
The second item was a movement of Beethoven's "Harp" Quartet, played by the Despax Quartet. It thrilled me to bits, and one of the old ladies sitting beside me appeared to be in tears. Music making of the highest calibre, showing the chamber musicians of the OrKidstra at the "Dedication" level what to aim for; six of this group came on stage next, to play the lovely Larghetto movement from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet (the lowest part was doubled). Peter, on the clarinet, is only 13 or 14, but already looks and sounds like a first rate musician––a very gifted young man who is now principal clarinet of the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra. (He was also the young conductor at the last OrKidstra concert that I reported in this blog.)
These performances were applauded mightily, but when the Afiara Quartet came on to make their contribution to the concert, such was the enthusiasm that some of the young people cheered! It was a movement from a quartet by Nielsen that looked challenging to play and made demands on the audience too, but, as Tina said afterwards, even the youngest children concentrated on what they were hearing, "absolutely entranced."
The concert came to a conclusion with an exciting performance by the two professional quartets joining forces to play the last movement of Mendelssohn's Octet for strings, the Afiara 'cellist flinging himself into the music, stamping his feet and all of them practically levitating from their chairs.