Last night I went to a concert by a Toronto group that I had never heard before. The group of 27 (specifically mentioned at the concert-- no capital "g" on "group." Apparently they're very specific about that.) was playing a "DIY Symphony". The first half had four symphony options on the menu: Mozart 38, Haydn 83, Schubert 5, and Beethoven 1. The audience chose which movement hey would like to come from each symphony. He first movement was done by applause-o-metre, with students from the orchestra's outreach program at the Dixon Hall and Regent Park school's music program helping measure the applause, and we ended up hearing the 1st movement of the Haydn. The 2nd movement was chosen by auction: some lucky kid had his parents pay to let him choose which slow movement he wanted (he chose Schubert) and part of his prize was also that he got to sit in the orchestra for the rest of the first half! The fourth movement was chosen by secret ballot before the show, so the remaining movement was to be whichever composer hadn't been chosen. When the movement from the Mozart symphony was performed, it was done as a side-by-side with the string players from Dixon Hall and Regent Park. Unlike most side-by-sides (we did one with he Niagara Youth Orchestra just last weekend!) the kids were placed on the outside of the string section, so one of the students got to sit concertmaster!
The second half of the concert was Beethoven 7, which I just played last Sunday with Niagara so it was interesting to hear it again with this orchestra. They sounded great, and significantly more rehearsed than for the first half (part of the concept of the DIY portion was that they were sight-reading the chosen movements.) At the intermission Nadina, who plays principal bassoon and has recorded many concerti with the orchestra, showed me her lefreQue! The lefreQue (I SWEAR THE Q IS CAPITALIZED THAT'S HOW IT'S SPELLED) is a Dutch invention that seems to be catching on among North American wind players. It's a metal bridge that you place on either side of the joints of your instrument using silicone bands. I admit that I'm a little bit skeptical based solely on the information on the website (http://www.lefreque.com), which contains such mumbo-jumbo as "lefreQue does not add but gives in return" and "On a flute you slide the pieces into each other, thereby effecting a sound breach, which again will be corrected by using the lefreQue." There isn't any particular information on what exactly a "sound breach" is or how putting another piece of metal on your instrument is going to correct it. However, I have to put my skepticism aside for the moment because everyone I know who has tried the device loves it and says that they hear a definite difference in the quality of tone! Which is really the only metric that matters, I suppose. Nadina certainly sounded excellent in the concert, although of course I didn't get to hear the same concert with and without bassoon lefreQue :P
On the whole I really enjoyed the concert and will be back to hear them again if I'm around. I ran into a bunch of people I knew including my elementary school strings teacher! Toronto may be a big city but it's still a small world!