The venue : Knox Presbyterian Church
First of all, I'm glad I looked up the address of the church before I left. I had somehow planted it in my head that this church was just north of Mill St. on Hwy. 7, but it's actually right by the library on Main St. I now know the Hwy. 7 church to be a United Church. These two locations are pretty close to each other, so it's not a big problem, but... still, it's nice to know where you're going. I go past this church so often that I can't believe I didn't know what it was called!
This church is very impressive. It's quite a small church, but the interior was notable. I haven't sat in a more comfortable building in a very long time. By comfortable, I'm not talking about the chairs, which were just wooden benches as you normally see in churches. I mean that the interior was just so perfectly proportioned to human scale and acoustically-treated that I was sitting in the middle of the room without much around me and it felt more comfortable than my own house! This is clearly a church that was built when buildings were built for people and not architects.
During the concert, the excellence of the acoustics was even more apparent. I haven't been in many different churches for comparison, but it had perhaps some of the best acoustics I've ever heard. On the other hand, the audience and hall were so small that no amplification was needed -- it was the instruments alone. Amplification adds its own set of challenges to good acoustics.
An audience make-up always interests me, as some of my previous concert notes probably show. In this case, the audience was mostly older people; more seniors than even middle-aged people. Except for a couple of children at the front, I think I was the youngest person in there. The pub down the road was more attractive entertainment for younger people, it seems. This is kind of sad, but I'm not really surprised, though given the choice between pretending that I've got the ornate culture of 18th and 19th century Europe and pretending that I've got the culture of an English/Irish mucker who doesn't know what to do with himself at the end of the day, I'd rather pretend about the former. It was nice to see that a couple of parents took their young children to something like this, though.
The music was performed entirely on a single baby grand piano and a single violin and came from a variety of composers, including Mozart, Liszt, and Brahms. The complete programme is shown above. The guest violinist, Conrad Chow, was incredibly good, as was Ron Greidanus on piano and they complemented each other very well. I've never seen anything like it live -- in such a small venue while also a venue of high acoustical quality. I've heard plenty on well-recorded baroque and classical CDs and this recital was evidence that recordings will never come close to the live experience for this type of music. I don't really feel qualified to comment further on the specifics, but I'll just leave it by saying that I've never been as engaged at a concert before, and I was not expecting to have a reaction like this.
I had only bought a ticket for one of the shows in the 2008/09 series, but after what I saw that night, I went and got tickets for three more of the shows*, held at various area churches over the coming months. I can't wait to see more from this great ensemble!