Programming can be a challenge for an entertainment venue when it comes to providing variety, as there is often pressure to bring in performers believed to be profitable. Those operating the deCoste Performing Arts Centre have a different philosophy: it’s not about always making a profit, it’s about having a balance, supporting your community and providing cultural experiences.
That is why the deCoste is pleased to have support from community members and organizations like Debut Atlantic whom they work with to be able to bring in performers who aren’t as ‘mainstream’ because there are some who enjoy other genres, like classical music for example. The Classical Series has been running for several years at the deCoste and has brought in three to four performing groups each season.
Marketing co-ordinator, Jennifer MacLennan, says the deCoste has been working hard to expand the reach of the Classical Series to a wider audience.
“We’ve been implementing a number of strategies to help grow the audience to help expose individuals to a wider repertoire of music. With the Classical Series, through Debut Atlantic, we’re often able to have the artists visit several the schools in the region to expose students to the music. There are so many talented students who are learning how to play many different instruments, so it’s great that they have an opportunity to see where their talents and interests can take them if they continue to practise and master these instruments by being introduced to these professional musicians in person. To compliment this school program, we offer students the opportunity to come to the deCoste and see the performers for free.”
For anyone else who might like to push their boundaries and try something different without a lot of financial risk, the deCoste, through a partnership with the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Libraries, provide an “Arts Are For Everyone Show Pass” to each of the branches that can be signed out by anyone with a library card. It is then presented to the deCoste to obtain a pair of free tickets to a performance.
“The passes are released two weeks prior to the applicable performances, and they’ve been quite popular and go fast. “ said MacLennan. “We’re hoping that people take advantage of these types of opportunities to expose themselves to different musical genres. There is something to be said about the positive emotional benefits one receives by seeing a live performance, regardless of the type of music. It’s very inspiring and often quite moving when you see the talent and precision of these classical artists in particular. I recommend everyone give classical music a try at least once in their lifetime. I doubt they’d be disappointed.”
The first performance in the Classical Series at the deCoste this season will be featuring the duo know as ‘Bev and Marc’ who combine percussion (mainly the marimba, with the addition of vibraphone and musical saw) and strings (violin) to present a new performance dynamic to the audience.
Beverley Johnston is one of Canada’s leading percussionists, having recorded six solo CDs and performing extensively throughout the world. She teaches at the University of Toronto and was named the Canadian Music Centre Ambassador in honour of her exemplary commitment to the performance of the music of Canadian composers.
Marc Djokic, an Atlantic Canadian, is one of Canada’s most prolific violinists and was awarded a Prix Goyer and a Prix Opus. He was featured in Bravo’s “The Classical Now” and has just released his debut album.
The Bev and Marc duo has commissioned and premiered works from Canada composers. One of their highlight pieces, Quantum Holograms by Richard Mascall, was jointly commissioned by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council, and features the use of digital FX pedals. Their latest commission is from award-winning Canadian composer Christos Hatzis which was premiered in Montreal in 2018.
The show will take place Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office.