Music and Beyond showcases the ‘magic’ of connecting with a live audience

The festival features more than 50 concerts, predominantly in six Ottawa churches but in Orleans, the University of Ottawa, and other venues.

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music and beyond
What: more than 50 concerts of classical music and music adjacent to classical
Where: 11 places in Ottawa, mostly churches
Tickets and information:

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After two years focused on virtual programming due to the pandemic, Music and Beyond, the first of Ottawa’s two summer festivals focused on classical music, will rock churches when it kicks off its two-week run on Monday.

“Nothing beats a live concert,” says Julian Armour, Artistic Director and CEO of Music and Beyond.

“Being able to hear all the beauty of each instrument and even feel the vibrations is very special,” he says. “There’s always magic when you connect with a live audience.”

In fact, as Ottawa music lovers have started flocking to parks and indoor venues for concerts, the 11th edition of Music and Beyond kicks off as soon as the Ottawa Jazz Festival ends on 3rd December. July and coincides with the Ottawa Bluesfest, which begins on July 7. Music and Beyond continues through July 17. Four days later, Chamberfest begins its own two-week run.

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Music and Beyond will present more than 50 concerts, predominantly at six Ottawa churches, but also at the Shenkman Center in Orleans, the University of Ottawa’s Tabaret Hall and even the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.

The festival is organized by two swanky galas, both at Music and Beyond’s key site, the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Center in Centretown.

The opening night gala will feature a cavalcade of musicians, including pianist Matthew Larkin, visiting star trumpeter Jens Lindemann, vocalists Mireille Asselin and Sinead White, accordionist Michael Bridge, the Early Music Theater Choir and ensemble of Ottawa Thirteen Strings. Encapsulating the musical diversity that the festival promotes, the program will begin with music by Handel but will also travel as far afield as Rachmaninoff, Astor Piazzolla and Steven Sondheim.

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The closing gala will add visual thrills by combining chamber music featuring artists such as Armour, a cellist, with circus acts including juggling, balance and aerial acrobatic feats.

Both galas will also be available as live streams, taking advantage of the remote audience Music and Beyond has attracted for the more than 300 videos it has released, mostly on YouTube, since the pandemic began.

“We realize that most people are comfortable attending live indoor concerts in a safe environment when, like with Music and Beyond, the audience is carefully spaced,” Armor said. “However, many people still are not. We want to reach these people as well.”

He added that some concerts from this year’s festival will be archived for on-demand viewing and many will eventually air on Music and Beyond’s weekly Rogers TV show.

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In addition, the virtual content of the festival is reaching viewers around the world. “We want those people to come to Ottawa in 2023 to attend Music and Beyond,” Armor said.

After Britain’s Classic FM posted a video of Music and Beyond on Facebook, it went viral and has so far been viewed by 7.8 million viewers. “It would take 200 years of hosting live festivals to hit this number,” Armor joked.

Baroque music will reign on the Dominion-Chalmers stage during a Handel-themed extravaganza on July 6 at 9 p.m. at 5:30 pm for more concerts.

Other artists will perform at multiple concerts and then mix and match with their peers.

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For example, the Czech Republic-based competition winner Bennewitz Quartet will give four concerts at Woodroffe United Church, playing twice daily on July 7 and 8, while Russian pianist Artsentiy Kharitonov will give concerts at Dominion -Chalmers (July 8, noon) and Woodroffe United (July 10, 3 p.m.). On July 9, the string quartet will join forces with Kharitonov for two concerts at Dominion-Chalmers when Haydn and Dvorak will be on the program.

The festival will circle the globe frequently to schedule decidedly mundane concerts.

A themed concert on July 5 at 7:30 pm at Dominion-Chalmers will celebrate Ukraine, with the Orchester Classique de Montreal performing works by Ukrainian composers as well as Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E major.

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The music of Argentine maestro of the new tango, Astor Piazzolla, will be feted by the trio of pianist Louise Bessette, violinist Marc Djokic and cellist Chloé Domínguez on July 6 at 7:30 pm at Woodroffe United.

Toronto accordion virtuoso Michael Bridge will focus on Spanish music for his instrument on July 5 at noon at the AllSaints Event Space in Sandy Hill. He will play a second solo concert, but with a broader program, on July 6 at 5:00 p.m. at the Tabaret Hall.

Sitarist Irshad Khan and tabla player Zaheer-Abbas Janmohamed will present their South Asian sounds on July 15 at 7:30 pm at First Baptist Church in Sandy Hill.

Fans of traditional music from Ireland and Quebec will be drawn to the evening concert on July 14 at Dominion-Chalmers with violinists Alexis Chartrand and Nicolas Babineau and stepdancer Pierre Chartrand.

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Those who like classical music with a strong jazz side should look out for the trio concert by the great jazz pianist Marcus Roberts, whose program at Dominion-Chalmers on July 13 at 7:30 pm will feature Beethoven music before Delve into Thelonious Monk pieces. , Charles Mingus, Scott Joplin and George Gershwin.

Ottawa-based pianist/composer and Carleton University professor James McGowan will have two opportunities to present his classical and jazz fusion compositions at the Shenkman Center, on July 5 at 7:30 p.m. and then the next day at midday. At the core of these concerts is McGowan’s Modasaurus quartet, along with a string quartet and local jazz stars Mark Ferguson on trombone and saxophonists Petr Cancura and Mike Tremblay.

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