What is Tom Allen Up To?

posted in: News

In one way, we know exactly what we will get on Friday, November 10, when Tom Allen comes to the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. On the other hand, we need to be prepared for the entirely unexpected.

We know that we will get a riveting story told with insight and wit. We know that we will get great music. We know that he will bring great musicians. But if experience listening to his broadcasts on radio tells us anything, we will also be taken in some surprising directions.

I am already bracing myself for surprises. I make it my business to be thoroughly familiar with the music our artists are bringing. Not this time. Allen has not given me a program. He wants his audience to be engaged with what is happening on stage and not looking down into a program, so there will be no printed program on Friday. He made sure of that by telling me only some of the pieces that will be performed, not all of them.

What I do know is that Tom knows his music, and he knows his performers. He is bringing some virtuosos to help him tell the story of the young Bach.

Lori Gemmell is the principal harpist of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and often plays with the Toronto Symphony. She currently teaches harp at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Alexander Weimann is a brilliant keyboardist on both the piano and harpsichord besides being in great demand as a conductor of early music. He has performed here as leader of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. There is no finer musician to interpret the works of J. S. Bach.

Violist David Harding has enjoyed a career of solo and chamber music performances around the world in some of the most prestigious music halls including Berlin’s Philharmonie and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Formerly a professor at UBC, he now teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

And then there is vocalist Shruti Ramani. I confess to knowing very little about her apart from what I read in her impressive biography online. Born in India, she now lives in Vancouver where she graduated from the University of Capilano with a degree in Jazz Studies. She performs in a wide assortment of genres—Hindustani, Jazz, improvisation, pop, Carnatic (that’s Indian classical music from the south of India; I had to look it up), and, yes, European classical.

This leads me to wonder what Tom Allen has up his sleeve. I know that the music of Bach will be prominent. Buxtehude will be represented because that is the musician whom Bach walked all those kilometres to learn from. But what else will there be? Maybe Shruti will sing something from a Bach cantata. She can surely do that. But could there be something entirely different? I have no idea, but given what I know of Tom Allen, he can make some remarkable musical connections.

The only way to find out is to be there on Friday. You will certainly be entertained. Tickets are $32 for adults and $20 for students at www.valleyconcertsociety.com . Tom will participate in the pre-concert talk at 6:50 p.m. in the foyer.

For more information, call 604-289-3377.

John Wiebe - President
The Valley Concert Society