Last year, when I created Generations as a homage to the many generations that built St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Dunbar (to honour the church’s 90th anniversary), the idea came to me of tying together a narrative of music with a story line.
The first rule of such an approach is to avoid hitting the audience over the head with the story, so I left a lot to their intelligence and their own personal creativity to figure out.
The music selections where lightly connected to the idea of intergenerational connections (A string quartet by “Pappa” Haydn, Songs my Mother Taught Me by Antonin Dvorak, and the feature work, Timepieces by Jeffrey Ryan, which I had commissioned as a memorial to my own father).
This year’s concert part of The Tárogató Project springs from a similar idea—it weaves together three distinct stories:
1) The musical part is a journey through the literature (or some of it) of Hungarian music (from simple shepherd’s songs to grand Romance to newly commissioned works for the tárogató),
2) the next part explores the story of the Hungarian refugees, particularly those from the University of Sopron who came to Vancouver and made a positive impact on the city, UBC, and forestry practices in BC, and
3) the final story deals with the contemporary unfolding drama of today’s refugees and the challenges they face making their new home, Vancouver, home.
The music will weave its own thread leaving the other two stories to drive the narrative (and the music to provide meditation points).
The date is 30 April 2017 (4pm) at St. Philip’s Church (Dunbar).
The tárogató is considered a Hungarian cultural treasure, and it has traditionally bridged the gap between Classical concert music (favoured by nobility) and folk music (popular with the country folk).
Despite the tárogató’s rareness outside Hungary and surrounding Eastern European countries, the tárogató now boasts two players in Vancouver—me and Milan Milosevic (with whom I’ve previously collaborated). While having two tárogató players in Vancouver may be considered enough to constitute a school of tárogató playing, what’s really needed is some distinct concert repertoire to bring attention to both the instrument locally and to put British Columbia on the map with those interested in incorporating ethnic and non-traditional instruments onto the concert stage.
Here are two recordings—both recorded in Vancouver—of Zóltan Kodály’s serene Esti Dal (Evening Song):
Milan Milosevic, tárogató and Bogdan Dulu, organ (recorded at UBC’s Roy Barnett Hall)
Jason Hall, tárogató and Michael Murray, organ (recorded at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Dunbar)
It all started almost immediately after the last concert, Generations, which I had organized at St. Philip’s Church. That concert played on the theme of intergenerational connections featuring the Jeffrey Ryan piece, Timepieces, I’d commissioned (but never performed) ten years earlier.
Following the concert, I invited Jeffrey over for dinner and it was he who goaded, no encouraged, no challenged me to submit a BC Arts Council grant application to get funding to commission some new works for the tárogató.
I guess the timing was good, because the three weeks left before the deadline turned out to be three weeks I had with no structured plans. I wrote the grant.
The way these things work is you write the grant and then forget about it for months and months before you hear anything. So come August and much to my surprise, I was awarded the grant and The Tárogató Project was born.
The Tárogató Project is designed in two phases:
Phase one – Commission two compositions for the tárogató by BC composers. I chose Jeffrey Ryan and Adam Hill.
Phase two – A public performance of both works on a concert marking the 60th anniversary of the arrival of refugees from the Hungarian Revolution to British Columbia. By telling the story of the one group of Hungarian refugees to Vancouver, the concert seeks to provide insights into the positive cultural impacts of refugees and immigrants to life in Vancouver.
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