The University of Calgary's intimate Rozsa Centre is the perfect venue for chamber music.
Adrienne Shumlich/the Gauntlet

U of C presents music's softer side

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Concerts are often associated with the spectacle of a band or an orchestra delivering an earth-shattering performance at a massive scale in front of an equally massive audience. This type of live music can be incredibly moving, but scaling things back a bit can be just as powerful. A little intimacy can go a long way in creating a meaningful connection between the performers and the audience. This atmosphere can be found at concerts featured during the University of Calgary's Contrast Chamber Music Festival, an event dedicated to showcasing the softer side of music.

The festival, which is currently in its eighth year, is held at the U of C's Rozsa Centre, a small theatre built with acoustics in mind. It is four nights featuring a variety of performances from a diverse selection of gifted musicians.

"The festival showcases the multitude of talents of our faculty members, our students and our alumni," explains Edmond Agopian, the director of the festival and music professor at the U of C. "We also have guests from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as international guests."

Among the guests are four musicians from the Central Conservatory in Beijing. Two performers Yan Tao and Yan Rui graduated with master's degrees from the U of C. Other alumni playing at the festival include Adriana Lebedovich and Gwen Klassen, both members of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

The festival's performances will also feature pieces from many great Canadian composers, including former U of C instructors Richard Johnston and Gerhard Wuensch.

The nature of the Rozsa Centre is perfect for chamber music, which is meant to be performed by small groups and enjoyed by a small audience.

"Chamber music is meant to be listened to in an intimate setting, and that is what the Rozsa Centre offers," says Agopian.

While chamber music originated as a form of classical music performed by small groups in palace chambers, the term now encompasses a much broader definition.

"It allows for all sorts of different types and styles of music, which are all played by small groups," explains Agopian. "Because of that, we can have a wide array of music and styles, from jazz combos, to string quartets to piano duos."

With its location on campus and free admission for U of C students, the Contrast Chamber Music Festival offers an amazing chance to experience live music in a unique and personal way. Agopian, who will be performing in several of the concerts himself, hopes the festival will help contribute to the university's artistic community while providing a memorable and intimate experience.

"We want to exhibit the talents we have at the U of C, to add to the cultural life of the campus and to present people with some wonderful music."