Brilliant Chamber Music Festival launches its 20th season in the County

Host Alexandra Bake, Festival Organizer Maureen Dunn and violinist Andrew Wan. (Chris Fanning/Gazette Photo)




The PEC Chamber Music Festival opened with a reception at the Picton Public Library on Thursday evening. Intimate and enthusiastic performances by some of the festival’s featured artists filled the Library’s recently completed, and dramatically gorgeous, conference room.

The evening’s music included some teasers for upcoming concerts and other pieces special to the event. Members of the New Orford Quartet offered eighteenth-century music from Mozart and Jean-Baptiste Barrière, as well as an early twentieth-century violin duet by Prokofiev. Featured Young Artist in Residence, cellist David Liam Roberts, presented the first ever performance of two caprices by contemporary Canadian composer Dean Burry. Mr. Roberts’ is an exceptional talent.

Acting as host for the library was long-time festival associate Alexandra Bake. Festival organizer Maureen Dunn made all welcome, even latecomers. Champagne receptions before and after the concert were animated by the performers and volunteers who make this musical institution a reality.

Pianist Stéphane Lemelin, the founding artistic director of the festival, told the story of how it all started, with a single concert on a borrowed piano. It developed over the years into a full-fledged festival “whose core spirit bridges the old and the new.” He was justly proud of the “who’s who of Canadian composers” who have been in residence here. In keeping with this tradition, each of this year’s concerts features traditional classics alongside new works by Canadian composers. Cellist Brian Manker added that this bridge is also present in the mentorship of the Young Artist program.

The festival moved into its official program with shows at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton. Friday’s concert featured the New Orford Quartet and Mr. Lemelin, and included the premiere of Marjan Mozetich’s String Quartet No. 3, “Aspirations,” a work specially commissioned to celebrate the festival’s twentieth anniversary.

Saturday featured a recital of pieces for cello and piano featuring the brother-sister team known as Cheng2 Duo. On Sunday afternoon a “Cello Extravaganza,” showcasing four up-and-coming cellists, including Mr. Roberts, filled Mary Magdalene once again.

Mr. Lemelin was delighted to be back in the County, and noted, “I look forward to the next twenty years!” He praised the “spirit of passion, love and friendship” that goes into making good music — not to mention the food and the wine — and commended the dedication of the festival’s volunteers and “the long history of commitment and support from people in the County.”

The festival continues this weekend, 15-17 September, and features performances by the Viano Quartet and a recital by Mr. Lemelin. For information and tickets visit