From medieval plainchant to J.S. Bach’s ‘Crab Canon’

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Vincent Parizeau © Fred Cattroll

Today (Wednesday) showed a dramatically different side to NAC Orchestra Week. There have been a number of concerts this week – as well as three student matinees in the last two days – but this afternoon’s event was quite different. Sean Rice and Vincent Parizeau appeared at Centre Communautaire Richelieu-Vanier for a very enthusiastic group called ‘Retraite en action’. There is a NAC Orchestra Week event held for this group every year, as they love to hear our musicians, many of them have extensive musical knowledge, and many of them are NAC Orchestra subscribers. In the past, the events have included popular concerts by small ensembles.

This year, Sean and Vincent put a lot of work into preparing a fast-moving summary of 1000 years of musical history. Sean played the clarinet and spoke in English and Vincent played the keyboard (normally he plays the bassoon in the Orchestra) and spoke in French. Both gentlemen are extremely charming, engaging, and articulate. Topics covered everything from medieval plainchant to J.S. Bach’s ‘Crab Canon’ (also known by the Latin form of the name, canon cancrizans, this is an arrangement of two musical lines that are complementary and backward, similar to a palindrome -- Go Hang a Salami! I'm a Lasagna Hog, for example. But expressed in musical notes, not words, obviously) to Mozart’s operas to 20th and 21st century music by Arnold Schoenberg and Olivier Messiaen.

Educational and entertaining – and totally fascinating.

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