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The featured element in the program that Laura Altenmueller will bring at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium on Friday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. is preludes. After she opens the concert with a delightful piece by Sergei Bortkiewicz, she will play cycles of preludes by Messiaen and Chopin.

The word prelude suggests that it is the introduction to something else, and that is how the term was used in music for many years, first in church music and then in artistic work by composers like Bach and his contemporaries.

Chopin changed that with his great Opus 28 cycle of twenty-four preludes in each of the major and minor keys. Each of these miniatures, averaging between one and two minutes in length, contains its own world of meaning and emotion.

Many have become favourites and are immediately recognizable, like No. 15, Raindrop, so named by others. Chopin hated that name for it. He requested that both the melancholy No. 4 and the No. 6 be played at his funeral.

The Chopin preludes have become an important part of a serious pianist’s repertoire, and we are excited to hear one of Abbotsford’s own perform these works. We have watched Laura over the years, first as a local student who won a Valley Concert Society bursary in 2011. Incidentally, Abigail Takenaka won the other bursary that same year, and later, both young women went on to study with the great David Jalbert in Ottawa.

The Chopin preludes will take up the entire second half of the program. In the first half, Altenmueller will play a contrasting set of preludes by the French composer Olivier Messiaen.

Messiaen composed eight preludes instead of a full cycle of twenty-four. They are more substantial works, averaging more than four minutes in length each. Messiaen gave titles to each of his preludes, while Chopin identified his only by key signature. Most unusually, Messiaen gave colour descriptions to each of his preludes.

Laura Altenmueller has prepared a wonderful program sharing with us three different musical styles. The greatest joy is to see how she has developed her skills to achieve this fine level. It is a credit to the wonderful teachers we have locally. It validates the investment in young talent by organizations like the Valley Concert Society by supporting them with bursaries and by giving them incredible learning opportunities in master classes.

Tickets for this concert are available online at at $32 for adults/seniors and $20 for students. For more information, call 604-289-3377.

I look forward to seeing you at the concert.

John Wiebe - President