Charm of Finches

CharmofFinches“A bird sings to attract a mate, establish territory, or simply because they love to sing…”

My fascination with Toronto’s spring-like weather (while still in the middle of winter) seems to be the starting conversation in recent posts. And yet again, I find myself doing it today but with good reason.

Just like their name, when you hear Charm of Finches, it truly sounds as if you are surrounded by songbirds welcoming spring’s gifts of flowers blooming and animals emerging from their slumber grounds. They may not be songbirds, but this beautiful flute ensemble will musical emerge into this world in just five minutes of listening to them.

Laura Chambers, Terry Lim, Amelia Lyon, Kaili Maimets, and Sarah Yunji Moon have been swooping in and out of each others’ lives for more than a decade. The quintet successfully premiered last year with a performance at the Canadian Flute Association Convention paving the way for an exciting 15/16 season to come. Their next concert will be taking place this coming Thursday at the Victoria College Chapel and will be titled “Charmed, I’m sure”.

MC: In a nutshell, what drew the five of you together?
COF: As colleagues and friends, the five of us have been swooping in and out of each others’ lives for more than a decade. We have connected in the past through hometowns, high schools, universities, training orchestras, and now Canada’s professional arts landscape. We were all busy building our careers in the GTA when Terry approached us with the idea to form a flute quintet. We had admired each other’s individual strengths and creativity as artists and were intrigued with what might result musically when we combined them. Our first rehearsal was full of laughter and beautiful music..the rest is history.

MC: How do you find working together as your own ensemble in comparison having also the experience of being solo performers and chamber group musicians?

COF: Working together as a group of five musicians who play the same instrument has its own set of unique challenges and rewards. Each of us are very different types of flute players, with unique sounds. Finding a blend between the five of us has been an exciting journey. A blend of sounds is something that you certainly work on as say a first flute and second flute player in an orchestra, but not generally with a group of this size. Also, a lot of the repertoire we play are arrangements of larger orchestral works. This has added a new level to our musical preparation and experience. For example we now consider why a composer chose to use a “viola” for this line in his work, and how can I embodied those elements as a flute player.

MC: As musical artists we all want to bring something of our own to the arts world – what impression to you want to leave audience members with after a performance?

COF: The flute, alongside percussion are the oldest human instruments, and share a unique connection to humanity’s biological rhythm; the drum to our heart beat, and the flute to our voice. We want our audience to breathe with us, and in doing so travel with us and experience the magic and wonder we feel while performing such incredible repertoire. When we finish a work with hearts racing and lungs empty, it is our goal to leave the audience just as breathless.

MC: What can we expect from your upcoming February concert?

COF: The program we have chosen for our February concert has something for everyone! The repertoire we have chosen covers some of the oldest music written for five flutes, music written just within the last decade, orchestral classics, contemporary Canadian repertoire, even a pop song.  It will be an evening of musical excellence, and good friends making music together. We are excited to have the chance to share the official start to our journey as a chamber group with a community that has already been so supportive and welcoming.
MC: Canadian composers are rising and taking notice from the classical world – who are some of your favourite classical canucks when it comes to repertoire?

COF: As an ensemble we are drawing inspiration from all the corners of Canadian music we can reach, exploring as many facets of our instruments as possible, and pushing the boundaries of what five flutes are capable of musically. The majority of us spent our formative musical years in Canada. We have strong connections to the sounds of the established canon of contemporary Canadian music.Currently, there are only four Canadian works written for an ensemble of five flutes and all are a part of our repertoire. The Finches have also recently commissioned a beautiful arrangement by composer Sean King of Jacques Hetu’s Sérénade. We are also dedicated to commissioning works from Canadian composers and are currently excitedly awaiting a new work from the talented composer, Riho Esko Maimets. He is uniquely qualified to write this work, as in addition to honing his craft at some of the top music school in the world, he also spent his formative musical years listening to flute music (as Kaili’s brother!). Other favourites include, Kevin Lau, Derek Charke, Jared Miller, Brian Harman and Gregory Lee Newsome. Beyond the classical world we are inspired by Canadian artists such as Shad, Oscar Peterson, Ben Gunning, Tanya Tagaq, Half Moon Run, the list could go on and if any of them have any interest in collaborating with or writing for flute quintet, “we’re in!”

Charm of Finches will perform on Thursday February 4th at the Victoria College Chapel at 7:30 PM. This will be a PWYC (Pay-What-You-Can) performance.