Music Connects Us.
Notes from our Artistic Director
~ March 1, 2021 ~

March…and the plaudits keep arriving… for our December video program that Huron Waves undertook as our ‘pivot’ – pivot is the word of the year for cultural organisations – because the virus was forcing us to deal with unsettling circumstances; unfortunately, that challenge is still in the air though we all hope for change, health and safety at some point in 2021…the sooner, the better.

We thank the 14,000 viewership for December’s Celebrate the Season with Huron Wavesbecause, if one assumes that each viewing brings an average of two people, then 28,000 viewers saw that program! Those are amazing statistics for an emerging music festival, which is really what Huron Waves is. Those stats also lead the festival Directors to think about how best to show our determination and creativity as a second spring of uncertainty looms ahead. All of which is to say that video may be a workable way in which Huron Waves can bring both more music to Huron County along with more attractive reminders of the County’s beauty for thousands of viewers outside our home territory.

In an upcoming newsletter, please watch for good news on how Huron Waves’ pivoting will continue. And wait for Huron Waves’ plans for how supporters and colleagues can participate in boosting our chances of continuing last December’s outreach and momentum.

Photo credit: katemangostar on Freepik.

But this is still March… and that means winter remains with us for several weeks, which reminds me of colder temperatures, which takes me to how Thomas Beard, the fine Wingham cellist featured in our video, had to deal with frigid temperatures when I suggested his segment be filmed inside Iceculture in Hensall.

“I don’t think it’s wise for me to bring my delicate, two-hundred-year-old cello into the cooler, so may I bring a 20th century designed instrument for the video shoot?” he asked. The result, of course, was the wonderful portion of the program where Thomas plays Bach and his own arrangement of The Huron Carol surrounded by coloured blocks of ice. For me, it’s one of the highlights of the program which can still be seen at this link.But not every cellist feels the same way about his instrument. For instance, there’s Nicholas Gold in Nashville who wrote recently that a friend with whom he was rehearsing encouraged him to play his 89-year-old instrument (valued at less than a thousand dollars) outside on that winter night. Nicholas recorded the experience on his iPhone and I just have to share with you what he calls his Swan in Snow; you’ll recognise the melody, The Swan, by Camille Saint-Saens.

It’s a scene that could be set in March in Huron County…beautiful music, snow gently falling, a perfect winter night.

Watch it here. Alas, be forewarned that you will need an Instagram account to watch this short video.

To complete this newsletter… here is something different, a video link that allows me to share a poignant encounter I had with Leonard Cohen four years ago in Montreal. To be honest, my encounter with the great poet/musician wasn’t in person; it was through an unforgettable exhibition, Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, presented at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (known as MAC) on the Place des Arts complex.

The title comes from Leonard Cohen’s original lyric: Ring the bells that still ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

The exhibition was a major success because of its immersive blend of songs, photos, reminiscences, videos, new creations and unique virtual experiences where we attendees creatively reworked the master’s poems and lyrics, even standing in a circle of men from the city’s Jewish community who had been videotaped singing as if Leonard were still among them.

Here’s a YouTube link to MAC’s own video with Mr. Cohen himself singing.Being at the exhibition was an intergenerational adventure. 300,000 visitors participated in the original presentation and now a bilingual virtual exhibition, inspired by the original, has opened with free access for the next three years to anyone residing in Canada.

It’s to encourage you to take in at least a portion of this virtual presentation – and thereby to get to know better a great Canadian music figure – that I include this link for your exploring. Let me quote from the materials that came to my attention:

“…Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything explores the universal aspect of Cohen’s predominant themes that illuminated his poetry and vast musical repertoire while uncovering the many links that can be drawn with contemporary art. Visitors can chart their own online journey, choosing to enjoy the show’s abundant documentary resources. Two sections – Explore and Gallery offer an alternative access to the exhibition’s vast content, some of which is unique to this online edition. Echo gathers the personal accounts and firsthand reactions of the audience. Content offers a presentation of the virtual exhibition itself, an introduction to its main themes and artists, as well as ten pivotal biographical moments in the life of Leonard Cohen.”

Never will I forget how moved I was by this vivid exhibition. I urge you to set aside your own time to immerse yourself in even a portion of A Crack in Everything.

Explore the exhibition here.

Photo credit: G News

Till we’re together again, stay safe and healthy.  And remember that Music Connects Us.

John A. Miller, Artistic Director                                                                     March 1, 2021

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