Article: Miró’s musical menu will be chosen by the audience
By: Leonard Turnnevicius
The Miro’s musical menu will list various movements by composers such as Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Smetana, Ives, Bartok, and others. Patrons at their Hamilton Conservatory concert will choose which movements they’d like to hear via a ballot in their program booklet. These ballots will be tabulated, and the four or five movements receiving the most votes will be served up after intermission.
It’s all part of the Miro’s goal to engage its audience in the product onstage. Which is all fine and dandy. But who or what can ensure that this doesn’t devolve into a dog’s breakfast of quartet movements with no stylistic relation to each other?
“We’ve very much carefully chosen the movements we have (a la carte), ” said cellist Joshua Gindele, reached on his cellphone last week while walking his dog near his home in Austin, Texas, where the Miros are based. “We can almost predict fairly well what the last part of the concert is going to consist of. But every audience is different.”
The first half will be dished out table d’hote, so to speak, and includes Samuel Barber’s String Quartet with its famous Adagio.
The concert will begin with the opening and final three movements of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross, a piece originally composed for orchestra but later arranged for string quartet.
The translated title is a bit of a misnomer. Those “Words, ” or rather “Worte” in Haydn’s original German title, are best rendered as “sayings” or “quotations.” The sayings were culled from the Biblical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Haydn gave each saying a separate movement, and placed the applicable quotation in Latin translation underneath the opening notes of the first violin’s part. As such, they look like lyrics. But having the first violinist sing them wasn’t Haydn’s intent. The quotations merely serve as a departure point for Haydn’s musical commentary on Jesus’ sayings.
The Miros have been including this work in their concerts over the past year. At times, they’ve done it with a narrator or a minister speaking the sayings. At other times, they’ve done it with a Trinidadian slam poet. For their Chamber Music Hamilton concert, they’re not sure how they’ll treat these sayings.
“My violist (John Largess) is a Latin and Greek scholar and former archeologist (who studied at Hebrew University in Israel), ” said Gindele. “So, if you want it in Latin or Greek, or really any ancient language, I think he can do it.” Sounds like the perfect opportunity to hear them in Aramaic, widely considered Jesus’s mother tongue.
While the work has overt Christian ties, Gindele denies that the Miros are making a religious statement by performing it.
“No, no, no, ” emphasized Gindele. “It’s music that deserves to be performed. It doesn’t get its due … It really is great music. We felt that it needed a little attention.”
On Monday, the Miros will be turning their attention to a school concert they’re giving in the auditorium at Westdale Secondary, 700 Main St. W. The one-hour concert begins at 1 p.m. and is geared for students aged nine to 18. Cost is $2 per person. For info, contact Carol at 905-528-0763.
This Sunday at 3 p.m., organists Paul Grimwood and Brent Fifield perform Bach and Franck at Central Presbyterian, 165 Charlton Ave. W. Free-will offering.
Next Friday, March 5 at 8 p.m., Triple Forte, that Canadian powerhouse trio of violinist Jasper Wood, cellist Yegor Dyachkov, and pianist David Jalbert, perform at McMaster’s Con Hall. Tickets: $17, senior $12, student $5. Call 905-525-9140, ext. 24246.
Leonard Turnevicius writes about classical music for The Hamilton Spectator.