Creative Programming


When George Zukerman put together the program for the Young Beethoven performance at the
Matsqui Centennial Auditorium for Friday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m., he demonstrated all his
considerable creative talents.

Assembling a program is an art that requires thought and skill. One begins with a theme and then
considers how best to support that theme. Issues like pacing, audience appeal, and available
resources such as musicians and repertoire all come into play.

To celebrate Beethoven’s 250 th , the theme is obvious. When it comes to providing a concert for
organizations like ours, a chamber group makes much more sense than a huge orchestra, given
the cost considerations, even though Beethoven’s most famous works were his big later works,
his symphonies and concertos.

This helped George narrow it down to some of his earlier compositions, giving the audience an
insight into an aspect of Beethoven’s work that is less common but very beautiful. It was easy to
decide early on that the climax of such a program would be the glorious Septet, Op. 20, one of
the most popular works in his day and one that has not lost a bit of its appeal.

But what to do with the rest of the program? He now had an unusual collection of seven
instruments, some strings and some winds. There are not many chamber compositions that put
together such a combination. This is where George exercised his considerable knowledge and
creative thinking.

You can imagine the audience sitting up with some curiosity when the concert begins with just a
clarinet and a bassoon on stage playing a jaunty duet. Off they go to be replaced by three strings
playing a gently rhythmic trio. Another violin joins them to play a quartet that picks up the pace
a bit.

And now there is a complete change of personnel as the clarinet and bassoon return along with
three French horns to play a quintet for which Beethoven had prepared sketches but which was
only finished in 1957 by a German musicologist. Two of the horns remain on stage to be joined
by the string quartet to play a sextet with an even more unusual combination of instruments.
If you have been paying attention to the numbers, you will have noticed that with each piece of
music one more chair has been added to the stage. And there you see George’s endlessly
inventive mind. Start with two and work your way to the grand climax with seven musicians.

Along the way there have been pieces that were well-known and others that were rare, there were
winds and strings, there were fast and slow pieces, all creating a momentum of energy toward a
concluding high point.

To enjoy this enchanting concert, you can find tickets online at
at $28 for adults and $15 for students. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. Provincial health orders that
are in effect at the time of the concert will be observed.

I look forward to seeing you at the concert.

John Wiebe
The Valley Concert Society