Put the warm trill of a flute and an octave scaling keyboard together, and one may think of a courtly performance in some German palace from hundreds of years ago.
However, the repertoire for flute and piano goes far beyond the baroque realm of those J.S. Bach sonatas, where flute and harpsichord duets entertained guests hosted by Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen.
Renowned Vancouver pianist Terence Dawson and his duo partner, flutist Christie Reside, break the mold when it comes to bringing their respected instruments together.
They choose music that spans ages, genres and emotions as will be heard when Reside and Dawson perform for the second concert of the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s 60th anniversary season at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday.
“Our duo formed because of our interest in chamber music but our repertoire has expanded in that every piece of music we play is different,” said Dawson,
The program for the duo’s Vernon concert is proof of that.
The duo plans to perform a jazz sonata by famed Canadian pianist/composer Lorraine Desmarais, the Sonata for Piano and Flute in B flat and the Sonata Apassionata for Solo Flute by Sigfrid Karg-Elert, and for the “purists” some Brahms and Bach.
“Some think classical is quite unapproachable and academic,” said Dawson, who has lost all traces of his British accent having immigrated to Canada from the U.K. when he was just five years old.
“This program is not that way. It affects the emotions – the calming and restless things that make listening to a recital interesting.”
Dawson refers to that emotional response to that of seeing a movie.
“We like to provide that variety to an audience, just as people like to see a dramatic movie or a comedic movie,” he said. “By the end of the program, it will be the piece that you have been drawn to emotionally as the piece you’ll like the best.”
A concerto soloist who has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and with a number of chamber ensembles, Dawson is currently on sabbatical as chair of the keyboard division at the University of British Columbia, where he obtained his doctorate more than 20 years ago.
It’s through a chamber sextet that he first began performing with Reside, and it was their symbiotic musical chemistry that brought them together as a duo in 2005.
“We have played together enough to know each other well and respond to each other well,” said Dawson. “The way we play can be very spontaneous. A perceptive audience can see and hear that rapport.”
Dawson credits his colleague for drawing out the emotions with her grasp and knowledge of her chosen instrument.
Reside joined the VSO as a second seat flutist when she was only 19, and received formal training at McGill University in Montreal and at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Now the principal flutist with the Vancouver and Seattle symphonies, she also performs as a soloist and has appeared with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
“Christie has concentrated on that instrument in that the sounds she gets are very different from what you normally expect from the flute. The colour and tonal changes can be a challenge to make the piano match those sounds,” said Dawson.
With busy individual schedules, including an upcoming residency for Dawson that will take him back to his birth country to work with pre-college performing arts students at the Plume School in Essex, it’s both musicians’ passion for the music that brings them back together to perform in their home base of Vancouver and around Canada.
“If that’s your passion, you do it wherever you are. If you are making your living off the arts, you feed off that environment,” said Dawson, who spreads that message to his students.
“Every student dreams of what they can achieve. It’s a competitive world, and you need the energy and self-preservation and a lot of practise to make it happen. You have to constantly be challenging and expect more of yourself.”
What makes it more realistic for students these days is the restriction to arts programs in schools and elsewhere.
Some feel arts are an extra rather than an essential service, said Dawson.
“I think the arts are an essential part of who we are as people. We would not be who we are without the arts,” he added.
Reside and Dawson will be bringing that message and a full evening of diverse music to the NOCCA’s concert at the Performing Arts Centre Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Individual tickets are $35 for adults and $17.50 for students at the Ticket Seller box office, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.