Have cello, will travel 

Classical performer Michael Jones plays Bach in an intimate Whistler concert

click to enlarge Keeping up with Jones
  • Keeping up with Jones

Michael Jones will be catching the Greyhound up to Whistler and he may need to buy two tickets, one for him and one for his cello.

Currently in the middle of a Western Canada tour, the virtuosic British classical performer is playing Bach's cello suites, along with Spanish and romantic music, at the Scotia Creek Gallery at Millennium Place on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.

"I call it a one-man show. It's based on excerpts of Bach, the classical core, but with stories about his wife based on her life. A lot of people don't know about her. So I tell stories and play excerpts from different periods of his life. The second part of the performance, I play completely different things, like Spanish and French music," he says.

Reaching him for an interview was a little hit and miss. In the course of moving around the B.C. interior and Vancouver Island, Jones has found it difficult to connect online and our payphones are a disaster, he says.

"I feel like a Gypsy traveller on a camel or something like that!" he says, laughing.

A resident of Spain, this is Jones's second tour of British Columbia in 2013. He is a man who will travel halfway around the world for the promise of interesting acoustics and picturesque settings.

"I wasn't expecting to come back so soon, I did my big trip in the spring and played in a lot of places and thought I'd come back in two years, with any luck. And then suddenly there was a cancellation on the Island and it was in this beautiful, little wooden church. They invited me and I wanted to do it, so I decided to try and build other concerts around it. In the end, this tour has been really great," he says.

Jones says in the three days prior to the interview he has played four concerts. There are also concerts in Calgary, Seattle, the Kootenays and northern B.C.

Such travelling has led to a wealth of stories, especially when he was performing with guitarist Augustin Maruri, who recently stopped touring for health reasons.

"I'm continuing on my own, this kind of Gypsy route. I'm enjoying it and I love to be in Canada, especially this part of the country. I feel really at home and have had these great experiences. The only problem I have is balancing the balance between what I spend... and what I earn. You have to work that out, it's very much a job. For it to be viable it needs money," he says.

Only 40 tickets are available for the Scotia Creek Gallery show, promising an intimate night close to the music. They are $30, $28 for seniors and $26 for Whistler Arts Council members.

Jones says he has already sold out of copies of his 2002 recording of six cello suites by Bach, but would be taking orders at Thursday's concert and would post the CDs once he returned to Europe. The cost, he said, would be $30, which includes postage.

He performed for the CD on a 1667 Stradivarius loaned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The 2002 recording was singled out by music reviewer Srajan Ebaen, who writes:

"Jones' treatment of (Bach's) dance movements reflects honestly upon the originally intended spirit. His phrasing and rhythm synchronize with the intuitive pulse of a dancer. That doesn't mean his tempi are faster. In fact, in most cases Yo-Yo Ma and Starker are faster. Yet Jones' bowing is fluidly choreographic and perpetually progressing with elegant momentum."

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