More than just ‘elevator music’

Finding excitement and beauty in today’s classical music performance

Rachel D’Sa / Arts and Culture Editor

As a commuter school, Capilano University is often the source for ultimate dead silence on the weekends. This however, is not at all a concern for performance soloists and students part of Capilano Singers, Charmaine Marie Iormetti and Kaylene Chan. CapU’s BlueShore Centre for the Performing Arts will be the home to the breathtaking concert, Viennese Masters, from Apr. 7 to 8. Organized by conductor Lars Kaario, in collaboration with the CapU’s Festival Chorus, CapU Singers, Soloists quartet and Orchestra, the show will bring forth emblematic works including Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass”, Schubert’s “Mass in C major”, and Mozart’s “Regina Coeli”. Iormetti notes that while not every show that is put on gets sold-out, a majority of the shows end up being full house. “For a lot of people that live on the North Shore, it’s actually an easier trip than travelling across the bridge and going deep into Vancouver. Why not enjoy music that is just as good and here in your neighbourhood,” said Iormetti. She additionally notes that the audience generally consists of families of the performers, former and current students and faculty, along with the general public, all looking for a great show. In addition to two weekend performances in the school year, one in April and one in December, members of Capilano Singers are also required to set aside one to two Saturdays each semester. Despite typical student attitudes towards campus-free weekends, Iormetti noted that she never questioned her commitment to her passion due to having to be at school more than the average student, in fact, she likes it that way. “Some people are like ‘ah, we have to come in on a weekend?’ But believe it or not, I actually look forward to those.”

Both Iormetti and Chan are a part of the solo quartet (for Iormetti, on Saturday, and Chan on Sunday), comprised of soprano, alto, tenor and bass vocalists. A fourth-year student in the Music Diploma program, Iormetti started off her time at CapU with violin and piano, having taken lessons throughout her childhood and adolescence. She found joy in singing, however, found it difficult to find a way to commit to it fully.

Despite knowing that she wanted to pursue music, before attending CapU, she found herself surrounded by individuals who were into classical music and looking to take performance seriously. At the moment, Iormetti is a choral scholar, funding her life as a student by performing at an Anglican church. “I love choral music and classical voice, and opera is like my favorite thing to see and to hear. Comparing opera with choral music is like comparing apples and oranges, they’re both really beautiful and I could go on and on and on about how much I love both of them,” she said.

Though her appreciation for the classical genres has grown over the years, it was her that brought classical music into her home. Although her Italian father grew up in Italy and listened to opera, his preferences centred on jazz and her mother only recently began signing operas with her. While Iormetti’s soul performance brilliance stems from the classical genre, she added that she understands its lack of appeal to others. “I don’t necessarily want to say intimidated, but I think there’s always been that element in opera and classical where it is that people go ‘eh,” she said. “Not necessary because they don’t like it, maybe they find it unattainable in a sense.” Last year, Iormetti went to see Turandot, a three-hour opera, with a friend, and by the end, the two were surprised to find that time flew by.

Chan built on Iormetti’s point as she added that there is definitely a sense of doubt towards the classical performing arts. “I know that classical music may not be what everybody is into these days and I definitely didn’t listen to much classical music before I came to school, but I really learned to appreciate it and find so much fun and beauty in all of it,” said Chan. Having been raised “like other kids,” with pop music, it wasn’t until she began attending the University that she found a deeper passion for classical music, which stemmed from her love towards musical theatre. Her mother had taken her to see the Phantom of the Opera and Chan fell in love with the idea of musical theatre and begged her parents to put her in classes. She then began her musical theatre career, which included academy training and led to performances in Vancouver. Her vocal teacher at the time mainly taught classically, which sparked interest in Chan and led her to pursue the genre. “Especially through taking music history, I’ve found so much appreciation for the music and how complex and beautifully written things are,” said Chan.

Her devotion to classical music however is only a portion of her musical tastes. “I listen to everything. If you look at my music playlist, I mean there’s a lot of classical, because I have to listen to a lot of classical, but I like pop and indie pop and rock. I really like 70s funk and E.L.O., Earth, Wind, and Fire, it’s really fun and it gets me in a good mood. I have some really avant-garde experimental music too.” Having found appreciation in every aspect of varying music genres, Chan knows classical music to be more than the credit it is given today. “I feel like when you hear classical music people now just kind of think of it as elevator music, or that kind of thing, or like when you’re studying. But, like Mozart and Beethoven like how did they write those kinds of things?” questioned Chan. “I think it’s great to celebrate them and sing and perform their music because it’s just amazing.”

Iormetti and Chan both look forward to opportunity to do classical music proud with their upcoming concert. “In reality, there’s a lot of humanity in opera, and there’s so many things and characters that people can connect to but they just don’t see that because all they think is ‘ah, loud singing, big orchestra, three hours, oh my goodness,” said Iormetti. “Some people just cannot get passed that, but I think that if they’d just see it for what it really is and take it one step at a time, they’d find that it’s quite beautiful.”

Viennese Masters: Haydn, Schubert, Mozart will be at the BlueShore Centre for the Performing Arts at CapU on Saturday, Apr. 7 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Apr. 8 at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $10-30.

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