Day 2 of the Music and Beyond Festival was an excessively warm one, 35 degrees, with a "feels like" temperature in the mid-forties. It felt even warmer than that indoors, in the non air-conditioned Southminster United Church, which explains why the featured musician, Marc Djokic, was wearing a red sports shirt and short jeans.
"We're dressed like the Beach Boys, today," he admitted, and nobody could blame him.
Mr. Djokic is concert-master of the Montreal Chamber Orchestra. At this concert in Ottawa he played his violin in five different ways, to a variety of accompaniments provided by his friends, also informally attired.
The first item was three movements from a Porgy and Bess Suite, arrangements for violin and piano, by Jascha Heifetz: Summertime, including jazzy variations on that familiar theme, It Ain't Necessarily So, ditto, and the less often heard Tempo di Blues which had the violinist whistling the tune. His pianist was Julien LeBlanc.
In the second item, Marc played "three sketches" composed by a Brazilian woman who is also a scat singer and jazz pianist, Clarice Assad: Ad lib, Anima and Electrified. The Anima was soft and slow. For this, two guitars joined in with the violin.
Matthias Maute, composer of the next piece (a "Noncerto" composition for solo violin) had named the musical sections after places he knew: a barber's shop called Chopin and a local restaurant, Casareccia-Ciacona. He was Marc Djokic's neighbour in Montreal.
Legal Highs, by David Jones, followed, this one for violin plus marimba, played by Beverley Johnston who despite the heat danced around as she struck the bars of her instrument with four mallets at a time. It looked difficult, but both performers obviously knew this music well and enjoyed it. Marc hardly cast any glances at his sheet music and played the first part of Mr. Coffee pizzicato, holding his instrument like a ukulele. The other sections were called Menthology and Sweet Thing.
What odd names all this music had!
Finally came a violin piece by Nico Muhly with a pre-recorded track for the accompaniment: Honest Music. Marc said he had played this during last summer's evening of music at the National Gallery, which I'd attended, but I hadn't remembered it.