Music educator, conductor, and concert enthusiast Nicholas Urquhart has a keen interest in collaborative learning. In fact, Urquhart explored this concept in detail when he was studying for his master’s degree.
“When you experience things together, it sits more profoundly than when you just experience it on your own,” Urquhart, strings director at Killarney Secondary School, tells Pancouver by phone.
He’s also conductor of the Harmonia String Ensemble. And on Tuesday (January 24), Urquhart and the Harmonia musicians will embrace the value of a group experience in a free LunarFest Vancouver concert, entitled Together We Are!
“So that is the theme of the concert and the reason that we’re all getting together,” Urquhart says.
To celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, Harmonia will be joined at the Orpheum Theatre by a diverse group of musicians.
One is star concert pianist Anna Sagalova, who recently moved to Vancouver to escape the war in Ukraine; the other is 11-year-old violinist Arianna Stott. The concert will also be available via livestream.
Urquhart describes Sagalova as a “world-class piano player” and a “generational talent”.
“If she wasn’t fleeing from the war, she would be on-stage all over Asia and Europe touring,” he says.
Harmonia already performed with her at a benefit in the past to support Ukrainian refugees.
“We wanted to invite her back for this concert partly because of the great talent she has but also because of the exposure it can give her,” Urquhart adds.
Prodigy performs Bach at concert
The LunarFest concert speaks to Harmonia’s underlying philosophy, which is to improve the world through music. Urquhart explains that this is done by performing for various charities, including the Dalit Foundation, which aims to help members of the lowest caste in Hinduism.
He also lavishes praise on Stott, calling her an “immense talent”. The Port Coquitlam prodigy will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto in E major.
“She certainly has the skill,” Urquhart says. “We rehearsed last night and she’s a fantastic player.”
The WVYB Symphonic Strings will perform “Alishan” by Lee Che-yi, a famous composer in Taiwan. Alishan is an important mountain range in the island nation, celebrated for its cultural heritage.
Meanwhile, Ginalina, a three-time Juno nominee, recently recorded her fifth album, Going Back. It’s a collection of modern remixes of folk songs from the Far East. And it includes “Diu Diu Deng (Taiwanese Train Song)”. Its lyrics speak of the sound of moisture falling on trains travelling through the mountains of Taiwan.
Urquhart reveals that the concert will wind up with every performer on-stage performing Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom”.
“We’ll try and involve the audience,” Urquhart says.
It promises to be a group experience unlike any other to usher in the Lunar New Year in Vancouver.
For more information and free tickets to the Together We Are! concert, visit the LunarFest Vancouver website. Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @charliesmithvcr. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.