July 09, 2014

Church hosts Belfountain Music Festival

As published in The Erin Advocate

Fine performances on piano and violin launched the Belfountain Music Festival on Sunday afternoon – a week-long celebration of classical music at the historic Melville White Church on Mississauga Road.

Presented by the Belfountain Heritage Society, the series of concerts will culminate with a free performance this Sunday afternoon.

The opening concert featured pianist Maria Dolnycky, who is helping to revive the music of several Ukrainian composers whose work was suppressed in the Soviet era, and violinist Zachary Ebin, who has brought together a wide array of performers for this festival.

Zachary Ebin
The small church built by Erin founder Daniel McMillan in 1837 may not deliver the acoustic purity of a concert hall, but the opportunity to be so close to the performers provides a captivating experience.

The first work was Dreams, by Viktor Kosenko, which is also the title of a CD created by Dolnycky and Ebin with this program of Ukrainian music. It is a flowing, hopeful piece, with a graceful interplay of instruments and some intriguing chromatic passages.

Maria Dolnycky
Sergei Bortkiewicz’s Sonata for Violin and Piano provides opportunities for deep, rich notes, tentative at first, but then with a massive outburst of pounding fury that resolves to mellowness. The andante movement is pensive and mournful at times, but always pushing and gathering up energy. It is released again in the third movement, where light touches and trills give way to heavy crescendos.

Morning Mood was a sampling of a miniature tonal work by Nikolai Roslavets, whose innovative compositions made him a particular target for Stalin’s music police. They declared him a “non-person” and purged him from music encyclopedias. His work was officially banned in 1930, but today performers and scholars are rediscovering it.

Vasyl Barvinsky was sentenced to ten years in a Soviet concentration camp after authorities branded his impressionistic music as “formalist”. Sunday’s concert featured three of his playful pieces based on Ukrainian folk melodies.

Dolnycky and Ebin finished with a suite of short pieces by Bortkiewicz, featuring strong, melodies, recurring themes with variations and a light-hearted touch.

All of the festival concerts take place at the Melville White Church, 
15962 Mississauga Road. Tickets and more details are available at www.belfountainmusic.com.

In other concerts scheduled earlier this week, violinist Amanda Lee and pianist Melisande Sinsoulier were featured on Monday, while Ebin was joined by violinist Caxton Jones on Tuesday.

This Thursday, July 10, there is a students’ concert at 4 pm. At the 8 pm evening show, violist Alex McLeod and pianist Jeannine Maloney will perform works by Bach, Brahms and Shostakovich.

On Friday at 8 pm, Dolnycky will be joined by flautist Julia Ranti and violist Mark Norris, with a program that includes Bach, Gluck, Debussy and Prokofiev. On Saturday at 8 pm, violinists Jennifer Martyn and Julia McFarlane will play a program that includes Bartok, Telemann, Mozart and Prokofiev.

Tickets are $20 for most concerts ($5 for children), but admission is free for the finale on Sunday, July 13 at 3 pm.

Ebin will be joined again by Dolnycky and will direct student members of the Arco Violini Ensemble. Works will include duos by Mozart and Bartok, Beethoven’s Minuet in G, Handel’s Bourrée, Bach’s Minuet, McLean’s Little Fandango, Pachelbel’s Canon in D-major, Anderson’s Plink Plank Plunk and Clebanoff’s Millionaire’s Hoedown.