A musical exploration of “life at home” is the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s latest online offering.
With so many people experiencing an insular existence these days, it would be easy to think that Behind the Red Door, written by Alberta composer Arthur Bachmann, was tailor-made for a pandemic audience.
But music director Claude Lapalme said “That’s not why I chose it. I chose it because I liked it.
“It’s a wonderful piece,” he added in the videotaped introduction to the work.
A performance of the melodic Behind the Red Door by an RDSO string quartet was taped before the re-instated ban on of performance activity due to COVID-19. It’s free to watch on the RDSO website (www.rdso.ca) as part of the RDSO online series.
There are many autobiographical elements in the composition, which describes Bachmann’s life as it unfolded when he lived in a “little white house with blue trim and a brightly painted red door.”
Lapalme said, the Calgary-based composer “recollects some of the memories, good and bad, from that particular time.”
Four RDSO musicians — violinists Diane Lane and Elisa Milner, violist Dean O’Brien and cellist Janet Kuschak — will draw listeners across the home’s threshold with an energetic opening movement that Bachmann feels describes that “bright and cheerful time.”
The tempo switches to a more tranquil second movement, which was written as an elegy to Bachmann’s grandmother, who died while he was writing the quartet.
The vibrant third movement describes two turbulent experiences: a burglary that happened while Bachmann was off on holiday, as well as a visit by a disputing couple.
The final movement was inspired by a “colourful, sometimes volatile relationship” the composer was in at the time. “Despite an episode of perhaps too much whiskey for me, all ends well,” said Bachmann.
The composer graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a bachelor of music in viola performance. In 1986 he won a job as a violist in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra — a position he still holds.
Bachmann began a career as a composer and arranger in 1990. His music has been heard on CBC Radio, and has been recorded and performed across Canada, the United States and Europe.
He describes his compositions as reflecting his deep connection to the landscapes surrounding Calgary. Melody and tonality are strong elements in his works, which seek “to bridge the gap between composer, performer and audience.”
RDSO’s online series includes two previously recorded performances which can also be heard for free on the website: Quintessentially Schubert and Music From the Land.
Lapalme said the idea was to produce a new online performance video every month, but restrictions around performances because of rising COVID-19 cases have created challenges.
He hopes to catch up with more video production as virus cases decline and restrictions ease this summer.