Water Surrounds Us

Ventus Machina to perform on campus this Saturday

    Local woodwind quintet Ventus Machina is a favourite amongst the Mt. A community, not only because four of the five ensemble members (Karin Aurell, James Kalyn, Patrick Boulduc, and Christie Goodwin) are professors in the Mt. A Music department, but also because the ensemble is known to give fantastic live performances on campus. I will never forget hearing professor James Kalyn’s arrangement of “Bird on a Wire” at a concert in my second year at Mt. A, or helping to record a virtual performance Ventus Machina put together during the summer of 2020. On March 19, Ventus Machina will be back to perform their new show “Water Surrounds Us” with special guest Hubert Francis, and they are really thrilled to be bringing this show to the Mt. A community.

    Hubert Francis is a Mi’kmaq Elder, musician, and actor from Elsipogtog. In “Water Surrounds Us,” he will narrate the legend How the Petitcodiac River Became Muddy and sing two of his original songs together with Ventus Machina. Hubert will be narrating in Mi’kmaq, and during the performance, translations will be projected on stage along with accompanying artwork. “Working with Hubert is an incredible learning experience for the quintet,” professor Karin Aurell told me. “This show has taken three years to put together, starting with composer Jean-François Mallet writing the original music to the Petitcodiac legend.”

    For me, a highlight of every Ventus Machina concert is getting to hear new arrangements done by professor James Kalyn, and this concert will not disappoint! “Water Surrounds Us” will include new music by Kalyn and Jérôme Blais, who is currently a professor of composition and music theory at Dalhousie University. For this concert, Kalyn and Blais worked together on arrangements of well-known tunes inspired by water, such as “Song of the Mira,” Joni Mitchell’s “River,” and the traditional Scottish song “The Water is Wide.” Many of Kalyn’s arrangements can be heard on Ventus Machina’s 2021 album Roots, which is genuinely a favourite album amongst me and my roommates.

    Aurell is excited about Saturday’s concert because, “for the quintet, this show combines a number of things that we are passionate about—working with guest artists, performing new music written for us, and building local connections. Hubert is a wonderful ambassador and hearing the Mi’kmaq language and his songs is truly a powerful experience.” I am writing this article on the day that marks exactly two years since Mt. A announced that campus would be temporarily closing due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it feels very comforting to hear about people continuing to come together to make music and art however they can. “One of Hubert’s songs, “Gei Maaooitaanetj,” speaks to the importance of gathering together,” Aurell said, “so please join the quintet and Hubert for a very special evening!”

    “Water Surrounds Us” will be performed in Brunton auditorium at 7:30pm this Saturday, and I for one am looking forward to the big show!

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