Turning Point Ensemble hit the ground running on our European Tour 2023. We left Vancouver on Friday, May 12th with half of us routing through Amsterdam and the other half through Frankfurt on our way to Zagreb. We arrived in a fresh post-rain Zagreb on Saturday evening, and immediately got to work rehearsing on Sunday afternoon at the Croatian Composers Society space. This was the first opportunity to work with the amazing violist Rivka Golani on Michael Pepa’s new work Musical Offering No. 2 ‘Golani’ and we had an excellent session together. Also, we were joined by composer Helena Skljarov as we played for her for the first time her new commission ‘The Red-Haired Man’ based on a poem by Daniil Kharms. Her work is full of surprises (interspersed reading of poem and other announcements, an old metronome, fantastic sounds and textures) and imagination. We also were joined by composer Rita Ueda who came straight from the UK to Zagreb, bringing her rainstick making kits, and all the bells we need for the performance of her “Hummingbird Lovers”.
It has been so great to have our violinist Domagoj Ivanovic, who is Croatian and studied and grew up in Zagreb, in our midst. He ordered a superb multi-course Croatian dinner for us at a local restaurant including seafood appetizers, wonderful cheeses and salads, and even wild boar! Dom also troubleshooted for us getting us SIM cards, and making sure we were properly acclimatized.
Our first concert day came quickly on Monday. It was very rewarding to have the opportunity to perform our mostly Canadian program (Murray Schafer, Helena Skljarov, Michael Pepa, Michael Colgrass, Rita Ueda, myself, and Ana Sokolovic) at last for an enthusiastic and good-sized audience include the local supporters of Cantus Ensemble, the Canadian Ambassador to Croatia who brought many others to the performance, a group of Dom’s now all grown-up high school friends, and quite a few others). Thanks to Robyn Driedger Klassen for fantastic performances of Schafer and my Bee Studies, written with poet and TPE Board Member Renée Sarojini Saklikar. Also, Rivka’s performances were inspiring. The ensemble rose to the occasion and sounded top-notch throughout.
We had a very enjoyable reception after in the lobby of the Lisinski Hall that was sponsored by the Canadian embassy. I would be remiss also if I didn’t thank Berislav Šipuš and Nina Ćalopek, Artistic Director and General Manager respectively of Cantus Ensemble for all their efforts to make this concert a very special opening of our 2023 tour.
Tuesday was a slow but interesting day as we spent six hours travelling by bus to Belgrade in Serbia. My next blogpost will report on our two concerts we will do while here.
From my hotel room in Belgrade before dress rehearsal,
Turning Point Ensemble
Photo credit to Vedran Metelko.