A Falcon, A Storm or A Great Song

Last Saturday the distinguished Latvian-born composer, Imant Raminsh was in town to hear his music played and celebrate his 80th. birthday. 

 “I circle around God , the ancient tower, and have been circling  a thousand years and still I do not know: am I a Falcon, a storm, or a continuing great song?”  

These words of Rainer Maria Rilke inspired Raminsh to write a string quartet which opened the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops concert Saturday at Kamloops United Church.

Gerard Manley Hopkins also saw God in a falcon in “Windhover”

“My heart in hiding stirred for a bird, the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.”

As a clod of brute earth, I was transported to another sphere by Raminsh’s String Quartet #1 (2003), played by the Sycamore String Quartet: Cvetozar Vutev, Sandra Wilmot, Ashley Kroecher and Martin Kratky.

How to capture in music a falcon’s flight, its terrifying speed?  How represent God the Tower?  And is there a continuing song in every life lived? The Sycamore String Quartet answered all these questions with panache.

At the intermission all joined to sing “Happy Birthday” and eat cake. Raminsh read the poem by Rilke in German, and in English, and spoke warmly of David Marden to whom his composition was dedicated.

The other half of the program, Clarinet Quintet (2022) has a lovely solo entry, both amorous and yearning; followed by the strings showing that Raminsh can write a line! There was folk music, echoes of fairy tales with the wood wind casting a spell on the fiddlers leading them into a furious, final, merry, dance. This concert can be viewed until September 30 via the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops website.

The Vaughan String Quartet comes from Edmonton for the next CMK concert, also at Kamloops United at 7:30 on October 14. 

Submitted by Jack Jones


Four friendly fellows and their various sized trombones put on a lively show at Saturday’s, Chamber Musicians of Kamloops’ concert. All four have had years of experience in Orchestras and bands. As explained, when the pandemic hit, it was vital to find some way of connecting with other players. Playing alone was not going to happen! And that is how Slide Rule Trombone Quartet was formed and came to Kamloops to try out their concert program. It was surprisingly varied and throughout contained the excitement of the unexpected effects that only a trombone can add.

Thanks to a question from the audience, we learned how a trombone, with only 7 slide positions can play a tune. It is all in the lips – as tenor player, Bob Rogers demonstrated on his instrument’s mouthpiece.

This quartet has a very nice stage presence and is sure to do well as they continue to perfect their program.

This was the final CMK concert for 2022/23. Next year’s lineup is nearly completed and will show up soon on their website. As has become tradition, the season will open with the Sycamore String Quartet composed of Cvetozar Vutev, Sandra Wilmot, Martin Kratky, and Ashley Kroecher joined by clarinetist, Sally Arai on 16 September. A special tribute is in the works.

Submitted by Leslie Hall


“Partners in Crime” on Saturday night at Kamloops United was a gay old time along with some darn good music. The audience was drawn into the life of the Bach family, their acquaintances and of 18th Century events. Curtis Howell portrayed the deservedly famous son, CPE of the more famous JS. Anika Howell assumed the role of his daughter, Anna Katarine Philippa; while Cvetozar Vutev took on the role of Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang’s father and friend to JC Bach, the youngest son of JS.

The music chosen exemplified the brilliance of the era. Our present-day musicians gave it their all: Howell on his wonder instrument showed how beautifully the harpsichord and Violin could communicate; Anika Howell’s well-trained voice soared over the audience; and Vutev led the pace throughout. Quite notable was the change in musical expression over the period from Telemann (godfather of CPE) to JC Bach. The latter’s music is well ahead of its time – jazzy with catchy rhythms.

As to events of the time. In 1717, Bach senior was jailed for a month over a labour dispute with his employer. In 1765, JC successfully fought for copy right legislation to apply to music. And Leopold made sure that other musicians got to meet his talented son.

Submitted by Leslie Hall


Kamloops Father and Daughter Thrill Concert Goers

Soprano, Anika Howell and harpsichordist, Curtis Howell brought magic to Saturday night’s Chamber Musicians of Kamloops’ concert. While the harpsichord adds Christmas jingle to music, it is songs that tell the stories. Both were beautifully worked into Saturday’s program. From Bach to a sing-a-long the execution was perfect. Obviously the four members of the Heritage Quartet are ‘sympatico’. Every piece flowed and not a cue missed. Especially fun was the rendition of Greensleeves and Laure Matiakh on cello. Following a brief intro, she plays the well-known tune, hands it off to the piano, then participates in a furious build up. Suddenly, she calls a halt. The others comply and the piece ends exquisitely.

Now, about the remarkable talent of Anika Howell. She’s had piano lessons from her Dad forever, but two years ago began voice training. She excelled last spring in the Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts. Saturday was her debut performance with professional musicians. What a debut! She sang an aria from a Handel opera, two heartbreaking carols, dramatized You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and topped all off by leading us in a medley of Christmas carols.

This gem of a concert is available online until December 24 through the CMK website. Great while doing holiday prep! Next concert is January 14 at 7:30 at Kamloops United Church.

Submitted by Leslie Hall


The Unexpected Delights of a Chamber Musicians of Kamloops Concert

Winds of Change on Saturday at Kamloops United Church featuring a five-person wind ensemble had many unexpected delights. First up, Renaissance music played on early music instruments: crumhorns (there were two), a tambourine and the whole recorder family – including a gigantic bass. Later in the program, on their more familiar instruments: flute (Janet Watson), oboe (Karen Gibson), clarinet (Lucy Benwell), horn (Edmund House) and bassoon (Cuyler Page) was a lovely baroque piece by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Haydn’s superb Divertimento No 1 in Bb. Then we were taken through the transition from courtly music to that for the general public: from sea shanties to Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin.

As always in chamber music concerts in Kamloops, there was a host of interesting stories that informed us about both instruments and program items. Especially delightful was Edmund House’s demonstration of the origin (in the hunt) and successive changes to the horn. (“Horn” is the true name of the instrument we often term “French horn”.)

Additionally surprising, was an item on the program composed by Neil McKay, born in Ashcroft.

Next up for the CMK is Collage on December 10. Featured performers are Catharine Dochstader, Cvetozar Vutev, Laure Matiakh and guest singer, Anika Howell. Tickets for both in person and online concerts are available through CMK’s website. Prices range from $15 to $25.

Submitted by Leslie Hall


Four Hands, But Definitely Two People

Chamber music fans were treated to an exceptional performance by visiting artists, Catherine Lam and Tao Lin on Saturday, October 8th. They perform duo piano compositions (also known as piano four hands) as Duo Beaux Arts. By great good fortune, Kamloops got a spot on their BC tour. The couple tour often. They were in the Atlantic states in September prior to nine stops in BC. Their next engagement – three days after leaving Kamloops – is in their home state of Florida. Although Florida is home, Catherine lived in Burnaby and obtained a Bachelor of Music from UBC. Tao was born and educated in Shanghai. He maintains those roots as a lecturer at Shanghai Normal University.

Thanks to the generous loan of a superior piano by piano tuner[technician/performer], Matt Arnott, the sound was thrilling. It is not a stretch that a piano can sound like a flute, but like a bassoon or a horn? Yes, that it did.

The works performed were by the German romantics and mostly written as duo piano compositions. This was a popular form at the time. Mozart wrote them for he and his sister, Nannerl. Composers often wrote them to assist in teaching their students. Schubert, notably wrote them for his accomplished friends.

The program Lan and Lin played was a tour through a highly creative time in music history. An early work of Beethoven’s is a glimpse into the greatness to come. A rumbling, tumbling ending to a Mendelssohn work, besides giving the duo something to get their teeth into had snatches of Scottish tunes. A fantasy written by Schubert in his “miracle year” was an emotional journey unthinkable to earlier composers.

Tao Lin’s skill as a music educator added greatly to an already astounding performance.

The next event, “Winds of Change” on November 19 features the Windjammers Quintet. Tickets from $15 on the CMK website.

Submitted by Leslie Hall


A Bold Start to the 2022/23 Classical Music Season

From its beginnings doing a few house concerts to the present nine concert season, the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops has come a long way. Their concert on Saturday night at Kamloops United Church was a stunning example of the professional level it has achieved.

Throughout a diverse program, the members of the Sycamore String Quartet never missed a beat. At its end, aided by the matching intensity of Dimiter Terzievs piano part, they were molded into one smooth operating unit. From the delicate to the ferocious, this concert covered a lot of ground. In between there was rock music turned classical; a sweet, ethereal movement from a Shostakovich quartet and an emotional suite based on folk themes by the Ukrainian composer, Boris Lyatoshynsky.

Quintet for piano and strings in f minor by César Franck was a tour de force. It begins with thunderous notes – loud and imploring. It introduces a theme that recurs often. In the 2nd movement, it comes as a relief from the weight of ‘gear shifting’ (modulation). In the 3rd, its return is other worldly. As Terziev said in his introduction, the work offers no answers.

This concert can be viewed until September 24th. Tickets at $10 and $15 from Eventbrite.
The following eight concerts are spaced one a month; all at Kamloops United Church at 7:30. The upcoming is “German Romantics” on October 8. Information on it and the others is on the Chamber Musicians’ website.

Submitted by Leslie Hall