Couloir, A Corridor

During the Liz Carter Talk in the foyer before Saturday’s concert, an audience member asked cellist Ariel Barnes about the name of his duo Couloir. Ari mentioned his love of skiing, referencing one meaning of the word as a steep gully on a mountainside. But he went on to explain that a couloir is also a corridor, a passageway that leads a person onward. He and harpist Heidi Krutzen want their performances to be a corridor leading their listeners to new experiences in the enjoyment of music.

Couloir was that for me on Saturday. I would venture to say that they opened a great many corridors unique to each of the more than 250 people in the audience.

One of the several corridors that opened for me led to the music of Valery Kikta. In preparing for this concert, I listened to more of his music online and was enchanted. Check out his Scottish Concerto for Two Harps and Orchestra on YouTube. I also discovered that a Ukrainian choir in Edmonton commissioned a large choral work from Kikta in the 1990s.

What other corridors have Couloir opened for the many who attended on the weekend? The most obvious is the duo itself. Those who bought their CDs can savour the sheer musical virtuosity that was on display at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium. They can also explore Couloir’s substantial contribution to the musical literature through their many commissions.

Each of the works on the program and their composers open doors to new corridors. I came upon De Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole via a corridor that I followed nearly ten years ago. Going to the opera in Paris to see an opera set in Venice, I was awestruck by the performance of a mezzo-soprano. I had to hear more of her, so I bought a CD. It featured her singing De Falla’s Seven Popular Spanish Songs on which the suite we heard was based.

There are countless moments in that brilliant performance by Barnes and Krutzen that can serve as the door to a corridor which leads to more musical magic. We are all the richer for having witnessed the talent, the emotion and the communication shared by Couloir. We can be richer still by travelling down some of the many corridors that they have invited us to peer into. That’s why they play.