Monday, February 22, 2016

Friday Night at the Symphony

Normally getting on a bus for me at an early hour means heading off to work but this weekend was a welcome exception to the rule as I took in a couple of symphony concerts in Edmonton and Calgary.  Initially I wasn't expecting to see Friday's performance of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.  I had planned to see the Calgary Philharmonic the following evening and for whatever reason had it in my head that Edmonton's concert fell on the same evening leaving me to choose between the two.  Since Calgary was featuring Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt in a work I've been longing to see performed live since I was in my early teens (more on that in my next post), I chose the Calgary date.

When I re-visited the ESO website a few days later to check on future concerts, I discovered that Saturday's concert would also be held on the Friday, meaning that I now had the option of attending both Edmonton AND Calgary.  It did involve a lot of travel in a short span of time as I left for Edmonton Friday, left early Saturday to Calgary for that performance and then returned home Sunday.  But of course it was well worth it.

I did experience one moment of angst on the trip down as the bus had some sort of issue with an air hose that delayed us for the better part of an hour in Grassland.    I had dark thoughts of getting out and walking as I had had this trip planned for close to a month but in the month we made it to Edmonton.  The delay did produce one positive though as it ate in to the time I had wait before I could check in to my hotel.  I was still a bit early in any event and spent some time ensconced in the Confederation Lounge at the Hotel MacDonald reading my book and sipping a pretty nice Cabernet Franc.

I was hoping for a photo from the other side of the hotel overlooking the river valley but I wasn't too keen on dodging cars on Jasper Avenue.  In any event, I'm glad I treated myself to a night at the "Mac".


Not only was it a very short distance to the concert venue but it had a wonderful old-world charm it and the view from my room wasn't too bad either.


I absolutely love historic buildings and as I was to discover, this lovely old hotel was just the appetizer.


Friday's concert with the ESO featured pianist Stewart Goodyear in Saint-Saens Piano Concerto no. 5, "The Egyptian" and Mendelssohn's Symphony no. 3 "The Scottish".  I have to confess I'm not that familiar with either of these works.  I'm better acquainted with Mendelssohn's Symphony no.4 "The Italian" from my student days but both works were well done as far as my limited exposure to them could tell.  In contrast to the last guest conductor in Edmonton last month who I thought rather reserved in his conductor, Friday evening's conductor was rather more histrionic, almost to the point of distraction at times.  All in all, however, a very nice evening and not too bad of a seat choice either.

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