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Land's End at artsPlace

Music and nature go hand in hand.

Music and nature go hand in hand.

In a rare Canmore appearance, Juno-nominated Land’s End Ensemble, along with Canada’s pre-eminent clarinetist James Campbell, will perform an evening of exhilarating and soulful chamber music at artsPlace on June 2 inspired by their relationship to the natural landscape.

The concert, which is titled Music by Nature, features Canmore’s Susanne Ruberg-Gordon (piano), Calgary’s John Lowry (violin) and Beth Root Sandvoss (cello) who make up Land’s End, as well as Campbell and host Allan Gordon Bell, an acclaimed contemporary composer.

Ruberg-Gordon, a highly regarded chamber musician, said she is excited about the upcoming concert in her hometown, a mixed program of new and old that draws powerful parallels between nature and music.

“We all know what it’s like to take a few days off, or even just an hour off, and go and sit down somewhere out of our busy lives and be absolutely blown away by what’s in front of us,” she said.

“We need to take the moment, to realize that it’s a conscious effort. The same thing, I believe, happens with listening to music. It’s not to be afraid of, especially when it comes to contemporary music.”

Bell, a University of Calgary professor of composition and director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, will host the concert and speaking about his music and what inspires it.

Bell won a Juno for best classical composition in 2014 with the piece Field Notes, which he composed especially for Land’s End Ensemble and James Campbell, himself a Juno Award winner.

Field Notes was recorded on an album devoted entirely to Bell’s compositions, titled Gravity and Grace, a series of wide-ranging works played by Land’s End Ensemble.

Ruberg-Gordon said the audience will find Bell’s stories intriguing to listen to, noting it’s very insightful to get a glimpse of what goes on inside the mind of a creative composer.

“His music is derived from nature and one of the premises is to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary,” she said.

“You’ll hear thunderstorms, you’ll hear lightning strikes, buzzing insects, howling coyotes, he’s just profoundly connected to nature,” she said, adding part of his composing process involves recording sounds in nature and taking field notes.

Campbell, on the other hand, is rarely in this part of Canada. He teaches in Indiana and is artistic director of the Festival of the Sound, a classical music festival that runs every summer in Parry Sound, Ont.

He has performed solo and with chamber music concerts in 30 countries in many of the world’s great concert halls: London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Paris’s Theatre Champs-Elysees, Washington’s Kennedy Centre and Boston’s Symphony Hall.

He’s in Calgary for another concert with Land’s End on June 1 at the World Humanities Conference at the University of Calgary – so Ruberg-Gordon jumped at the opportunity to arrange a concert with him in Canmore.

“We had James in town so I was bound and determined to try to make this concert happen,” she said. “He’s an unbelievable musician. He’s a real driving force in the Canadian musical landscape and beyond.

“It’s a very big honour for us to share the stage with him, which we have done a few times.”

Ruberg-Gordon has been on faculty at Mount Royal University Conservatory since 1991, where she is the coordinator of Collaborative Pianists, works extensively with the senior string students and teaches chamber music.

For Ruberg-Gordon, it’s exciting to perform in front of her hometown audience.

“Canmore is my home and it sometimes feels like I live in my car quite a bit … it’s difficult that you can’t always work where you live,” she said.

“Every time I leave work, I point those wheels west and I am so happy to drive home to Canmore. So I am really excited to have a concert here, and a concert that celebrates both contemporary and traditional language.”

Ruberg-Gordon says she is passionate about advocating for music, noting music is about communication.

“It’s its own language. That’s what I am so interested in conveying and making sure it stays alive,” she said.

“To be able to further knowledge of music through me teaching and share through performance is important to me,” she said.

“Music is so powerful and advocating on behalf of something that’s non-verbal is interesting to me. If it’s explained well and performed well, I think it is mind blowing.”

Sponsored by Spring Creek, the June 2 shows runs 7:30-9:30 p.m. at artsPlace. It features the works of Brahms Clarinet Trio, Sonata for Cello and Piano by Samuel Barber, as well as Bell’s composition Field Notes.

Tickets are still available ad cost $36 or $30.50 for artsPlace members.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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