TPE on Tour – Spain

I am writing from my hotel room in Santander after a rewarding and successful conclusion to our tour with our educational workshop and concert at Centro Botin on Monday, May 22, 2023.

The Centro Botin is firstly an innovative and extraordinary building designed by architect Renzo Piano right on Santander Bay. You can find out more here. It is thrusting out over the sea and full of light and the vision of water which permeates the exhibition rooms of the art museum as well as the auditorio where concerts take place. Behind the stage, there is a huge window where you look directly out on the bay seeing sailboats, ferries, freighters and tugs.

It was very fitting at the Centro Botin to be able to perform a program which featured the great American innovator of the early twentieth century, Charles Ives. Our Ives selections included works that were performed spatially distributed around the audience including The Unanswered Question and a new arrangement I made for solo voice (Robyn Driedger-Klassen) and Turning Point Ensemble of The Housatonic at Stockbridge. Other Ives works included an exquisite performance of Ives Largo by clarinetist AK Coope, Domagoj Ivanovic and Jane Hayes, as well as two Adagios and the rhythmically crazy (and barely possible) In Re Con Moto et Al. Thank you to Robyn, Brenda, Jeremy, Sarah, and Greg for another fantastic performance of A Comparative Study from my Bee Studies (poetry by Renée Sarojini Saklikar). We were pleased to include some outstanding Spanish content with recently deceased Canadian/Spanish composer José Evangelista’s 12 folk melodies from Spain, and Manuel de Falla’s Psyché from 1924. Jeremy also played Trombone Walking where he enters from offstage, walks through the audience and then exits. This fit in very well with the spatial Ives works.

The concert was part of Centro Botin’s Classical Music series which was effectively sold out with an attendance exceeding 300. They listened carefully to everything (a number of our performers said you could hear a pin drop), and we were delighted with the strong and appreciative response. The concert started at 8 p.m. and ended after 9:30 p.m., so by the time we got to the end, the light had dimmed as night fell – that was very magical with the Ives final piece.

I should also say that the morning workshop was truly inspirational thanks to the attentive and interactive 9 and 10 year-old children, and a superb facilitation by Esteban Sanz Vélez, our General Manager Aniria’s father. He led expertly the responses of the children to the excerpts we played. All our ensemble members seemed to feel that it was a fantastic model for a truly animated and deep musical interaction with children of that age.

All in all, it was a satisfying and strong conclusion to our tour. I should say that is an honour to be part of such a highly skilled and musically collaborative ensemble. They were magnificent throughout including when we did three concerts in four days! Big thanks also to Aniria for her excellent support throughout the whole tour, and a special thank you to her for making this concert happen in her hometown. We were incredibly well taken care of here, and having a few extra days has allowed for excursions, more culinary high points, and museum visits including the Gaudi Caprice house in Comillas (a highlight for me) and the paleoitic Cave of Altamira with the still visible paintings of animals and signs dating from approximately 36,000 B.C. to 14,500 B.C.

We now return to Vancouver and look forward to next years twentieth anniversary season beginning in September. Stay tuned!

Owen Underhill,
Artistic Director