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Chamberfest to make Edmonton debut this weekend

'Even if we have 10 people in the audience, those 10 people will be a fortunate 10 people'

Chamberfest Director Jason Cutmore.

Codie McLachlan / For Metro

Chamberfest Director Jason Cutmore.

The founder of a new Edmonton festival wants to bring chamber music to the masses.

But even if Alberta Chamberfest does not achieve that in its first year, Jason Cutmore is just happy for the chance.

The festival runs Friday through Sunday, with performances at Alberta College and the Chateau Louis Hotel.

“I would be thrilled if the entire hall could be filled with 150 or 200 people. But I’m realistic the first time out, and frankly, the programs are so fulfilling to perform, to play and sing,” Cutmore said.

“Even if we have 10 people in the audience, those 10 people will be a fortunate 10 people and it will be very worthwhile.”

Cutmore founded the biennial Pianofest in 2011, and the new festival will fill in the alternating years with chamber music, a form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments.

The director is also part of the performing lineup, alongside other renowned local musicians and at least two from the United States who will be making their Canadian debuts.

The focal point will be Franz Schubert’s Winter’s Journey, an “art song cycle" he will perform on piano with American tenor singer Nils Neubert Saturday.

He says art songs – usually written for one voice with piano accompaniment, and using a poem or other text as its lyrics and inspiration – are an especially underappreciated form of classical music.

“The art song repertoire has some of the most incredibly beautiful and most moving music in the classical music repertoire, but is probably heard the least of all the different sorts of chamber music out there, in North America at least,” he said.

“So I wanted to advocate for this art form that I really love.”

Cutmore said Winter’s Journey “may be the greatest art song cycle ever composed.”

Friday’s concert, dubbed Tropical Getaway, will feature rarely-heard Spanish songs, and Saturday’s late show will showcase French and British cabaret music.

The festival will wrap up with a master class on Sunday that’s open to the public.

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