Named for the vast and ancient glacial lake that used to cover most of this part of the continent, the Agassiz Festival returns to bathe concertgoers in a weeklong celebration of chamber music from Sunday through next Saturday.
Titled “When Worlds Converge,” this year’s festival features a rich variety of musical styles, genres and performers.
“It’s extraordinary that it’s been two years since I was actually in Winnipeg,” says artistic director Paul Marleyn, who makes his home in the nation’s capital, serving as Professor of Cello and Head of Strings at the University of Ottawa .
“I’m so happy to actually be seeing the Agassiz team and the Agassiz community in person… the human interaction is so wonderful to have,” he says.
After the first ever entirely virtual festival last year, Agassiz gets back to their top-notch, live music-making roots, though not without some elements of the virtual world lingering on.
Nearly all of the in-person concerts will also be available online, which will be welcome news to those who tuned in to the virtual festival.
“We discovered last year year that we had a whole new audience — an online audience,” explains Marleyn. “If you can believe it, 66% of our audience was actually from out of the city and in many cases out of the country.”
In addition to an abundantly talented local crop of musicians — including: Karl Stobbe, Paul Williamson, Elise Lavallée, Greg Hay, Yuri Hooker, Lisa Rumpel and more — the festival welcome back the highly respected Penderecki String Quartet (in person) and the absolutely delight Quartetto Gelato (virtually).
Celebrating their 35th anniversary year, the Penderecki String Quartet is one of the most highly respected chamber music ensembles in the country, who serve as quartet-in-residence at the University of Waterloo.
Marleyn notes the seriousness of their study but also their adventurousness in programming as hallmarks of their musicianship. “They embrace music right from Bach and the Baroque era up to today and they’re often working with living composers, and young living composers.”
The virtuosic, masterful and highly entertaining Quartetto Gelato bring an online presence to the festival in a virtual screening at Winnipeg’s Cinematheque.
Playing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, their performance will be beamed onto the big screen at the theatre in a new-to-them format. “Something that we thought would be fun to do and Quartetto Gelato is really good at this sort of thing,” says Marleyn.
In addition to the Cinematheque, two other new venues will be utilized in this year’s Agassiz concerts: the Laudamus Auditorium at Canadian Mennonite University where the bulk of the events will take place; and, St. Andrew’s United Church for the festival finale.
In-person festival passes are $115 (senior $105; under 30 $35) with in-person single tickets at $30.
Online passes are $100 with single stream tickets also available for $20.
For more information on Agassiz and a complete list of concerts, visit: www.agassizfestival.com