In what has quickly become a Music on Main tradition, Artistic Director David Pay once again programmed a year-end evening of music to celebrate the winter solstice at Heritage Hall. Back to lead the audience through the chorus of her haunting Winter Carol, the final piece on the program, was former MoM composer-in-residence Caroline Shaw. Joining Shaw on stage were local singer-songwriter Veda Hille, pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, and guitarist Adrian Verdejo.
The quartet, in different configurations, took the audience through an eclectic line-up of music, including two additional carols: Alfredo Santa Ana's spare and spine-tingly A Short Song for the Longest Night of the Year; and new MoM composer-in-residence Nicole Lizée's cheeky jingle Solstice Noir. Iwaasa rained down liquid sunshine in a stirring rendition of Denis Gougeon's Piano-soleil and later joined Shaw, on violin, for a beautiful rendition of Arvo Pärt's classic Spiegel im Spiegel (the Little Chamber Music Series That Could's Diane Park was in the room and I couldn't help thinking of our own danced performance to the same piece for the summer solstice of 2015). Verdejo performed two solos: John Mark Sherlock's Musiquita; and the world premiere of Rodney Sharman's for Guitar. And the incomparable Hille took her own turn at the piano, reprising two recent favourites: Let Me Die, from Onegin, her recent musical hit with Amiel Gladstone; and Eurydice, an adaptation of a Rilke sonnet that she wrote for Pay's Orpheus Project at the Cultch a couple of years back.
All of this flew by in a compact 90 minutes and was a great way to warm both the body and the soul on an unusually cold solstitial night in Vancouver. As Pay noted in his comments at the top of the evening, some rituals deserve to be repeated.