The Czech Mates performance was a real queen's gambit. Image: University of Ottawa School of Music/Provided.
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The Czech Mates ensemble is made up of students from the U of O’s school of music

On Dec. 1, the Fulcrum attended Czech Mates — the U of O wind ensemble concert presented by the school of music. The ensemble performed five pieces from various Czech composers such as Antonín Dvořák.

It was beautifully done. The performers wore all-black formal attire and executed each piece like professionals. The best part: these concerts are free for all music lovers who wish to attend and show their support. 

Before every piece, director Douglas Sturdevant gave context about the artist and the piece, which helped capture the artwork’s essence. This allowed the audience to imagine the stories behind each song as the harmony played.

It was amazing to see all the different reactions gathered by the audience members. Some would dance in their seats while others smiled and moved their hands to the sound of the melodies.

The third piece was by far my favourite. Smetana’s Vltava (The Moldau) was a beautiful representation of folk culture in Moldau, a village near the Bohemian mountains. As explained by the director, each instrument symbolized an emotion and a character portraying Smetana’s love for his homeland. The horns represented the hunters, the flutes represented two rivers between mountains, and so on. This story is the second of six movements from Smetana’s Má vlast that constitute a love letter through music. It was quite the experience. 

After the concert, flutist Lara Kneebone explained how she prepares for performances like this one. “I practice at least two hours a day and perform once or twice per month,” said the second-year music and biology student. After 11 years of experience playing the flute, Kneebone knows that for her, “the best way to prepare for each performance is to listen to recordings of the pieces as much as possible leading up to it. It makes all the difference.”

All events presented by the University of Ottawa school of music can be found on their website, including recitals, and orchestra and Opera concerts. Most of the concerts for the fall semester have passed, but the school will put on more performances in the winter semester. It’s nice to take a break from everything and enjoy the soothing sounds of a story coming to life through music.