By Val Friesen
On Friday evening, Oct. 4, the South Okanagan Concert Society launched their new season with an exceptional concert.
Canadian/Israeli world-renowned cellist, Ofra Harnoy, accompanied by husband Mike Herriott (trumpet, flugelhorn and piano), and Kinza Tyrrell (piano) delivered an outstanding musical experience.
Harnoy moved to Canada from Israel when she was six, and made her first concert appearance when she was 10, and her Carnegie Hall debut when she was only 17. She’s a five-time Juno award winner, including for Instrumental Album of the Year, as well as winning many other prestigious awards.
No surprise, then, to hear and see this internationally acclaimed artist is such a pleasure. Harnoy, with the support of her fine accompanists, was that gifted artist on Friday night who creates memorable music because of her profound understanding of it—some beautiful moments with a spectrum of tones.
The concert itself was cast in two very different modes—an initial presentation of classics featuring the cellist in the traditional concert style, and then a collaboration with her husband who spoke to us both literally and with his trumpet/flugelhorn.
For the first half, Harnoy chose timeless and perfect music from Baroque composers: sublime, melodic Bach (echoes of Jacqueline du Pré), soulful Corelli, and an unusual Telemann sonata pairing cello and flugelhorn. The set concluded with the 19th century Bohemian cellist David Popper’s sparkling “Hungarian Rhapsody” which brought the audience to life!
The second half was more a collaboration of instruments and styles where Harnoy was as often accompanist for her husband as featured soloist. The diverse repertoire included the much more familiar music of Gershwin (jazzy trumpet captured “Summertime’s” Catfish Row setting), then Fritz Kreisler’s pure magic “Liebesleid”—a showpiece for Harnoy’s sensitive artistry.
But it was during the three Lennon & McCartney pieces that the mood really changed when husband Mike Herriott took the microphone and loosened up the evening with homey remarks to introduce each of the pieces that followed that the audience became much more responsive to the performance. A wonderful, plaintive composition by Newfoundland troubadour Otto Kelland took us there; a piece composed by Herriott about his departed dog was a beautiful collaborative work for cello, piano and trumpet; Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” also scored for the three musicians, was evocative and soulful. The evening ended with Bernstein’s “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide. It was music from the heart to the heart.
It was such a treat to just sit back with fellow music lovers and be transported by this beautiful music in our fabulous Venables Theatre, and the standing ovation spoke for itself. Okay, not quite, because in all honesty, I know that I’m not alone in wishing that there had been much more Ofra Harnoy from her 37 recorded albums, or even maybe just one encore drawn from the vast unaccompanied cello literature.
But let me not appear unappreciative, so thank you, Ofra Harnoy, for sharing your magnificent gift with us.
Please come back soon! And thank you, South Okanagan Concert Society and your sponsors for your dedication to bringing such superb artists to enhance the cultural life of our grateful community.