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The Narrows Ensemble will be making its debut this Saturday

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES
Peter Voisey, left, and Valerie Selander of the Narrows Ensemble, making its debut performance Saturday night in Orillia.

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES Peter Voisey, left, and Valerie Selander of the Narrows Ensemble, making its debut performance Saturday night in Orillia.

The sweet sounds of classical music are set to fill the hall at St. Paul's Centre this weekend.

The Narrows Ensemble will be making its debut performance Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The ensemble will be presenting a program of chamber music for seven mixed instruments, with music by Mendelssohn, Crusell, Devienne, Borodin and Seyfert.

The collective is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Peter Voisey and Valerie Selander. For the past 11 years, the professional musicians have called Orillia their home and wanted to have the opportunity to play the music they love in and around their own community.

"There hasn't been anything like this really," Voisey said. "There's a concert association that brings outside groups up, but we thought it would be nice to have something that is more local that we could control ourselves."

"We've gotten to know the community, over the years, really well," Selander added. "There's a lot of support for it. There's a huge music and arts loving culture here."

Creating an ensemble has been in the works for a few years, Selander said, with rehearsals for this particular project beginning in July. In a perfect world, the spouses would be taking an equal hand in the day-to-day production of the ensemble's first show, but Voisey recently took performance job in Stratford, which sees him in the midwestern Ontario Shakespearean mecca five days a week.

Also, the two continue to take gigs with touring musicians who need orchestral backups for the their shows in Ontario. Just this past weekend, they performed with Il Divo at both Casino Rama and Caesars Windsor.

Joining the couple are Christian Sharpe on bassoon, Corey Gemmell on violin, Jonathan Craig on viola, Tom Mueller on cello and Dan McCoy on harpsichord.

They're a group of professional musicians who love classical music and love sharing it with audiences. When it comes to choosing what pieces will be performed, they focused on two main areas.

"(First) based on instrumentation," Voisey said. "And then, maybe things we really like to do, because we love them, or things that fit with the group we have."

The program was based around string quartet playing with Voisey on the oboe and Sharpe on the bassoon. With a keyboardist thrown into the mix, the possibilities really open up.

"The gauntlet, from early to late, it's incredible," Selander said. "At our first rehearsal, we probably read through parts of five quartets and made a decision."

She added how the music has to fit temperamentally.

"Both Peter and I have performed in so many environments, from a small professional far-flung symphony in Thunder Bay doing school tours in snow storms to playing for huge audiences in Toronto," Selander said. "We've both come away -- and our colleagues as well -- with a very strong feeling of (what) classical music people respond to. They can't help loving it. We're not looking to scrap the obscure corners of the barrel... we're looking for stuff people are going to love."

Tickets for the evening are on sale in advance through orilliaoperahouse.ca. Tickets will also be on sale at the door, cash only. Adults $30, youth $18; children 10 years and under, no cost.

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales



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