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The Gift of Music

A benefit concert in support of the recent earthquake devastated Peru, to aid in the rebuilding of the church Iglesia de San Clemente in Pisco-Ica Peru. The atmosphere of giving was front and centre at the church of St. Peter’s gathering, musicians of a high caliber giving of their time and talent in order to lend support. Sonia Chan a featured soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Chamber Academy, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra in California. A classical pianist who has played for royalty, performing for Her Majesty the Queen, Ms. Chan seemed to be playing to a higher calling than royalty at this evening’s performance.

Sonia Chan opened the performance with fire, her radiance, her magnificence, her spirit; all flourished on the pulpit this evening, a performance of giving and a performance of mastery. She played classical compositions with an emotional roller coaster, at times as sentimental as a nursery rhyme and at other times as ferocious as Dantes inferno.

Ms. Chan’s program consisted of a "Haydn Piano Sonata in E Flat" and Ravel’s, "Oiseaux Tristes" and "Alborada del Gracioso." During the moments in her performance when she played with sentimentality, the intensity never waned, her dynamics and physicality transformed to a softer gentler side. As the drama unfolded in the musical composition her intensity increased to the boiling point, she would dig down into the keyboard and seemingly rip the notes from their hiding spots of black and white. Her body expands and contracts as the music she plays follows suit creating a performance of majesty and a performance that I felt could not be followed by any other living soul.

Richard Whiteman has worked with many great musicians, such as Don Thompson, Marcus Belgrave, Ken Peplowski, Nick Brignola, Pat LaBarbera, Ed Bickert and Jane Bunnett. Richard Whiteman who as he put it, has fooled around with classical music, was not intimidated, he was jazz, and as cool as a preacher. A master creator who set about explaining to the brothers and sisters of the parish the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, jazz and classical or at least the songs would have made you believe so.

Mr. Whiteman opened with "The Way You Look Tonight," he followed up with "No Charge" an original composition, played at a moderate tempo, with upbeat flavors and a happy go lucky mood. He played a medley from the Ellington Strayhorn songbook, he would do a passionate version of "I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good) and he finished the recital with another of his own compositions, entitled "Thursday’s Waltz" an elegant song, a ballad with classical leanings and melodic overtures, a wonderful sigh inducing song to close his portion of the concert with.

The Slippers Orchestra was up next, they are an avante garde trio of guitar, piano and drums. They may have been out of place this evening, however an interesting performance befitting a church as they played in a style somewhat reminiscent of a group of monks chanting and praying. The guitarist/vocalist was at times singing in a style similar to Arthur Brown the quintessential God of hellfire and pumping out megawatts of their own fire and brimstone incantations. The performance seemed to have been cut short, the evening started to become rushed as many in the audience appeared to have come to the end of their Friday night tether.

An announcement by the master of ceremonies indicated the next artist, Chris Chuquihuara was only going to play one song, an original piece. The song had classical proportions as well as contemporary implications, jazz, popular music, world music or a fusion of many styles that simply resists classification - other than to state that good music was being performed. I really needed to hear a couple of other musical selections in order to fully appreciate the talent, but talent their was and this youthful pianist has plenty of time to expand upon his performance.

Report by Paul J. Youngman - KJA Jazz Advocate

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sonia Chan, Richard Whiteman, The Slippers Orchestra
  • Concert Date: 9/21/2007
  • Subtitle: Classical meets Jazz
  • Venue: St. Peter’s Church
  • City State Country: Toronto
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