Concert Review: Joes Are Way Above Average

Cellist Charles Inkman, violinist Cameron Wilson and pianist Allen Stiles, otherwise known as Joe Trio, at the Performing Arts Centre during the North Okanagan Community Concert Association

Cellist Charles Inkman, violinist Cameron Wilson and pianist Allen Stiles, otherwise known as Joe Trio, at the Performing Arts Centre during the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s Kaleidoscope series. — image credit: Christine Pilgrim

By Christine Pilgrim for the Vernon Morning Star.

No average Joes could captivate equally well with either their quips or the classics.

The musically expert, highly entertaining Joe Trio comprises Cameron Wilson, chief musical arranger and wizard on violin; Allen Stiles, masterful storyteller and maestro on piano; and Charles Inkman, coaxer of music sweet enough to soothe the most savage of beasts, when he’s not creating the roars of said savage beasts or the chirrups of crickets, on cello.

The trio not only carried out its mandate to “unstuff” the classics; it kicked the stuffing clean out of them, describing titles such as Joseph (Joe) Haydn’s Trio in G Major, Hob XV, No 25 as “unimaginative.” Yet their evocative rendition of its second movement, Poco Adagio (a little slowly), moved the audience to a spellbound, reverent silence.

By contrast, the trio irreverently opened their show by saying, “Please remain seated for the national anthem!” They then played their version of O Canada, renamed Joe Canada, inserting cheeky, witty musical references at every opportunity.

These three clowning musicians contorted their generally friendly features into ferocious scowls as they played The Pink Panther theme, Beethoven-style, complete with the wild composer’s “Da da da daaa” opening to his 5th Symphony.

It was the second of the trio’s nine variations on the theme, dubbed “the greatest piece of music ever written.” Others included Pink Panther à la Mozart, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Presley.

One variation particularly favoured by the audience focused on an intense, existential search for the meaning of life, the universe and everything. It was a gem. So was the Romantic Pukedom variation which overflowed with the flowery gestures its nickname implies.

Speaking of gems, it would be remiss not to mention the first movement of Johannes (Joe) Brahms’s Trio in B Major, Opus 8, accurately described as “long, but good,” as well as Tom Anderson’s profound tribute to his wife, entitled Da Slockit Light (Extinguishing Light).

The varied program culminated in an audience participation version of Dizzy Gillespie’s Salt Peanuts, which drew cries for an encore. The trio obliged and launched, at breakneck speed, into their arrangement of Orange Blossom Special, decorated with segments from Fiddler on the Roof. It earned them a second standing ovation.

The evening’s enjoyment was augmented by the presence onstage of three teenaged guitar students coached by Neil Fraser of the Lent, Fraser, Wall Trio.

Shane Ranger, Emily Ross and Will Friesen entertained and delighted with pieces written by Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, and “modern day Reinhardt” Stochelo Rosenberg.  Each guitarist improvised solos, played bass line and harmonies and deserved the enthusiastic applause afforded them.

NOCCA continues its forward-thinking approach to music-sharing by inviting other young musicians to perform curtain raisers onstage throughout the rest of this Kaleidoscope season.  And in 2016, it is investing in a new piano to replace the one that has done such sterling service over so many years.

The next concert in NOCCA’s Kaleidoscope series features the Bergmann Piano Duo at the Performing Arts Centre on Friday, April 24 at 7.30pm.

– Reproduced by kind permission of Christine Pilgrim, a freelance writer who reviews the North Okanagan Community Concert Association season for The Morning Star.