Ontario duet a gift in season finale
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am
A foothills concert series is ending its season with a performance like no other.
The High River Gift of Music Society is bringing two high-energy Ontario classical musicians to the stage with skills that may drop some jaws in the High River United Church on March 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Guy Few can play the piano and trumpet at the same time while Nadina Mackie Jackson is a master of the 25-key, eight-pound, eight-foot long bassoon.
Both Few and Mackie Jackson teach at Ontario universities, Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo and the University of Toronto respectively, and both are solo artists.
Mackie Jackson said the bassoon often attracts more attention than most other instruments because it’s so rarely performed.
“It’s a very quiet instrument,” she said. “It has incredible agility and a huge range, but it’s not loud. The bassoon is essential to any orchestra. It’s hard to hear unless it’s on its own.”
Mackie Jackson’s bassoon was constructed over four years in Germany out of maple. She makes the instrument’s double reed herself.
She is the principal bassoonist in the 27-member Toronto Chamber Orchestra, but spends more time as a solo artist touring across Canada and recording her music.
She initially picked up the bassoon in junior high school after seeing her music teacher perform the instrument.
“I thought it was a beautiful thing,” she said.
Living in a rural area in northern British Columbia, Mackie Jackson had to fly to Vancouver once a month to get lessons.
After attending a musical program in university, she joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra before joining the chamber orchestra in Toronto.
Although Mackie Jackson enjoys performing in orchestras, she also revels in the opportunity to perform as a solo-artist to connect with her audiences more intimately.
What brought Mackie Jackson’s talents with the bassoon together with Few’s impressive trumpet and piano playing skills was when the two met at a concert in 2006. They have been performing together ever since.
Mackie Jackson first saw Few when they were both flying from musical engagements. She described him to her friends and found out he was well-known trumpeter Guy Few.
“He was incredibly striking wearing leather with spiked blond hair,” she said.
Not long after, they both ended up performing at the same concert and since then compiled their musical talents to perform together at various concerts.
“He was so good I asked someone to write a piece to play for the bassoon and trumpet,” she said. “It really worked right off the bat.”
Few and Mackie Jackson tour as a duet every year and together completed three large orchestra albums and one recital album and had numerous musical numbers written for them to perform.
This year the duet has more than 25 concerts lined up across Canada, said Mackie Jackson.
“We go from the east coast to the west coast and everything in between,” she said. “They don’t know what to expect and they are always surprised that it’s fun.”
Mackie Jackson said their experience on stage is different in every province.