The Music and Beyond festival offered a sublime coffee concert called Music and Yoga. After a gentle Hatha yoga session, attendees enjoyed a cup of coffee and pastries while being immersed in hypnotic soothing sounds of the harp and flute. This truly brought Music and Beyond to new inspiring heights.
I felt complimented to be asked to host this event a few weeks ago. And then, a day before, I receive an email stating that the scheduled yoga teacher could not make it. I quickly offered to substitute so that the event could move forward.
We were set up in Woodside Hall of Dominion Chalmers United Church. A bright church hall both sound and lighting-wise. It was a pleasure for me to lead a gentle Hatha yoga class to those brave enough to come out at 9:00am on a Saturday morning.
After a brief pause for set-up and tuning of the instruments, Caroline Leonardelli, harp, and Pascale Margely, flute, introduced their concert. They promised a lineup of music to make us feel like we were in an ashram.
The first piece was an ethereal presentation of Alan Hovhaness’s Garden of Adonis. Lasting about 15 minutes, the piece has seven movements that are influenced by Indian and Oriental origins.
The music features many repeating phrases and solos. The first movement begins with the flute playing a phrase three times, each time reaching higher than before, accompanied by the harp, which plays arpeggio figures. By the third movement we are treated to a slow, solemn oriental dance.
In the final movement, the harp defines slowly shifting harmonies with continuous arpeggio figures – now descending, unlike the ascending figures used earlier. The flute has a slow melody consisting of a long phrase played four times. After a long, low note, the flute recalls the first part of its phrase, and the harp arpeggios die away, leaving an atmosphere of peace and mystery. It was expertly played by our two musicians and initiated our meditative concert.
Following the oriental theme, the next two pieces were rare traditional Japanese songs that were arranged for Jean-Pierre Rampal. Moon Over The Ruined Castle and Nambu Cow Herding Song are both folks songs with entrancing and hypnotizing music. I easily drifted in my mind with the music being carried away in quiet meditation.
Mergely subsequently enthralled us with her interpretation of Debussy’s Syrinx. Written in 1912, it is the only flute solo composition that Debussy created. It was also the first major solo work for the flute written in the twentieth century. The flute was not generally regarded as a solo instrument during the romantic period resulting in very few major flute compositions. The piece is beautifully impressionistic.
A more New Age feeling piece by Canadian composer, Marjan Mozetich, Reflection, seemed to fit wonderfully in the program. His works have rich romantic harmonies that explore the spiritual and have introspective and meditative qualities. In this piece, I felt taken away beside a pond with light rain falling.
The last glorious piece was Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar’s, L’aube enchantee. Composed for flute and harp, it was written for flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1976. This piece is meant as a late morning rāga performed during the hours of 9 AM and 12 PM. The work is divided into four sections that increase in rhythmic drive lending to the late morning character of the rāga itself, from the slow start of the day to the quickening pace as the day progresses into the afternoon. Superbly performed by Leondardelli and Margely, the music moved us out of our meditation getting us ready for our day ahead.
Music and Beyond is where we were taken by this concert. I could tell people left feeling relaxed yet energized by the 2 hours of yoga and music. Perhaps this is an event structure that could be taken outside the festival and presented more regularly.