Conductor Wesley Shen strides to the rostrum, bowing to 6 solemn musicians earlier than elevating his baton.
Thumbs firmly on their bicycle bells, the group rings its means by means of a cheeky two-minute composition titled “Journey of the Bells.”
That is the opening overture for the , which is concluding its five-week japanese Canada tour this Sunday on the Evergreen Brickworks.
“We’re enjoying on their expectations,” explains tenor Chris Enns. “They assume opera is meant to be formal.”
Inventive director Larissa Koniuk commissioned the work by composer Chris Thornborrow for the corporate’s fourth summer time tour. First she needed to discover bells in lots of pitches, which required visiting quite a few bike outlets and testing the pitch on her tiny iPhone piano.
Armed with the bells, Thornborrow created the brief piece that heralds the opera present that includes modern Canadian composers.
“We’re being humorous and quirky about it,” says Koniuk, including every performer has two bells on their bikes and the conductor has one on his baton. His bell marks the tempo.
The environmentally acutely aware group cycle from city to city for his or her performances, often a part of a summer time pageant. They toured the Maritimes earlier than returning to Ontario’s cottage nation and ending up in Toronto.
They tour with three trailers carrying their costumes, props and devices — 4 singers are accompanied by three musicians on violin, cello and piano. Ilana Waniuk, who introduced alongside her cheaper “camp” violin on the journey, is a primary timer with the group.
“I liked it a lot. We have been in locations in Ontario and Nova Scotia that you simply by no means get to see from a automotive. You see the countryside and play nice music.”
Billeting with volunteer hosts resulted within the group “assembly many candy individuals — and canine,” laughs Enns, whose bike broke down on the primary day’s journey in Cape Breton and he needed to hitchhike.
The bells additionally needed to be repaired as armatures broke off, bolts got here unfastened or they might get sticky and wish oiling.
There was no tuning them, nevertheless, as they every simply performed one observe.
“Bike bells don’t make concord too properly,” explains Geoffrey Sirett. However they do make a superb entrance.