I have a bit of a history with the Winspear Centre. What an amazing place!
Growing up in a rural area near Edmonton, I travelled into the city for weekly oboe lessons and rehearsals with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra. During my time there, the acoustically amazing Winspear Centre was built and opened. I remember how exciting it was to play there for the first time with the EYO, and hearing my oboe ring through the hall.
I moved away to Calgary for university, but there have been a few times where I have returned to the Winspear in my adult life. Once was with the University of Calgary Wind Ensemble in the early 2000's, and last year I was selected as part of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra's B-sides event. As an adult I was a bit more awe-struck by the acoustics in the hall, and how amazing it is to play there.
It was very exciting to be invited to play taiko in the beautiful Winspear. Dr. Jeremy Brown extended an invitation to perform as a guest artist with the Calgary Wind Symphony for the Edmonton Cantando Music Festival. With only two taiko players required, it was decided that Marty from Midnight Taiko and I would travel to Edmonton because of our recent experience with the group from last June.
We had no rehearsals leading up to Cantando, so the sound check was the first time we had played the piece (Yasuhide Ito's Gloriosa) with the ensemble since last June. We added a short oroshi before the piece began, which seemed to work nicely. We also played Yuta Kato's piece Dokokara together. It sounded so amazing, that I actually got slightly distracted during sound check, listening to the acoustics of the taiko.
After sound check, the house opened and the hall began to fill. I didn't know what to expect for audience, and was very shocked to see that nearly every seat in the house was filled. Over 1700 people (wow!).
I had to play oboe for one of the first wind symphony pieces, so I was slightly distracted from my usual pre-show taiko routine. I love how the sound of my oboe projects in the Winspear (usually something I struggle with my particular oboe, which is a vintage Loree C-series), and the ensemble sounded amazing. I quickly left the stage and ran into the dressing room to change my costume, and get into my taiko mind.
What an amazing experience to play the opening notes of Dokokara and hear the sound in the hall. The lighting crew did an amazing job with the effects during the performance, and the audience exploded after the song ended. What an amazing response, one that I will not forget. I was sent a video of Dokokara taken from above, and I can pinpoint the moment where I realize that my chudaiko is sliding off the beta-dai and I begin to worry about it falling off completely....luckily the drum did not fall off! Video of Dokokara.
Finally, we lifted a drum up onto the odaiko stand, and we began the Ito Gloriosa. The piece had a rocky start, I think the odaiko stand had moved slightly and I was having trouble seeing the conductor. During my first bank of rests, I could adjust my position slightly so that I could see him, and things improved drastically. It was quite the experience to hear the wind ensemble and the sound of our taiko together.
I am very thankful to Jeremy and the CWS for inviting us to perform. There will be a repeat in about a month for the Whistler Cantando Festival ... looking forward to a longer road trip for me and Marty!