Vancouver Cello Quartet brings unique performance to Whistler 

Concert set for Sunday, Oct. 14 presented by Whistler Chamber Music Society

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Four on the Floor The Vancouver Cello Quartet is set to make its Whistler debut on Sunday, Oct. 14.
  • Photo submitted
  • Four on the Floor The Vancouver Cello Quartet is set to make its Whistler debut on Sunday, Oct. 14.

You can't blame the Vancouver Cello Quartet for their lack of social media presence.

"We've been considering a Facebook page," says Lee Duckles, one of the cellists in the group. "Part of the reason (we haven't done it) is two of the members play in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO), so our scheduling in the past has been really tight."

The group first formed in 2012 after Duckles—a former principal cellist and soloist with the VSO—started to realize just how well the instrument fit the quartet format.

"The instrument lends itself so beautifully to the repertoire we play," he says. "I was teaching an ensemble class at the Vancouver Academy (of Music) and as I started to research the amount of repertoire available and the number of arrangements written for cello, I was really inspired to see what we could put on the concert stage."

Since their first performance, the group has had one musician leave and another join them. Alongside Duckles, it now includes Kevin Park, Christian Markos and Luke Wook-Young Kim.

"Luke Kim is our most recent addition," Duckles says. "He joined the VSO in 2015 and at that time we asked him to join us. He's turned out to be a terrific asset ... It was a matter of drawing these personalities and enthusiasts together to try out this repertoire. It turned out to be so much fun."

Since then, the quartet has played around the Lower Mainland and in various towns on Vancouver Island. Momentum is building, Duckles says.

"The audiences are enthusiastic," he says. "I'm very pleased with the turnouts we've had. I've also played solo cello and piano recitals and that's frequently a difficult draw because it's so specific in the repertoire. But the cello quartet, we've had a great audience and great success that way."

While there are certainly other cello quartets out there, Duckles says they might be the only group of its kind in this country at the moment. "The number of cello quartets that are starting to blossom all over—there's one in Boston, one in L.A., there was one in Toronto, but right now the Vancouver Cello Quartet is the only one active in Canada," he says.

The group is making its Whistler debut on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church as part of the Whistler Chamber Music Society concerts.

Duckles says local audiences can expect a lot of variety. "In Whistler we'll have a combination of other people's arrangements and one of mine. It's very eclectic but we try to vary the programs according to each venue. We start out with some strictly classical music—Mozart and Baroque music, more virtuoso pieces written for cello quartets. Then we slip into some tangos and there are some surprises I shouldn't give away," he says.

It will also be a show for all ages, he adds. "We seem to largely get an adult crowd," he says. "We haven't designed youth concerts because usually they're evening concerts. We don't see that many families, but this show would appeal to families for sure. We try to tailor it to each venue and each event, giving a lot of musical diversity."

Catch the Vancouver Cello Quartet on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 for youth (age 34 and under) and $20 for adults. Get them online at whistlerchambermusic.ca, at the Whistler Museum or at the door.

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