Montreal string ensemble collectif9 is coming to the Port Theatre. (Photo courtesy Danylö Böbyk)

Montreal’s collectif9 string ensemble makes Nanaimo debut at Port Theatre

Group brings modern production to classical compositions

Montreal classical music ensemble collectif9 has just returned from a tour of China and South Korea but later this week they’re heading back to the Pacific.

The band – bassist Thibault Bertin-Maghit, cellists Jérémie Cloutier and Andrea Stewart​, viola players Scott Chancey and Xavier Lepage-Brault​​​​​, violinists John Corban, Yubin Kim and Robert Margaryan and sound engineer Rufat Aliev – is journeying to Vancouver Island for the first time to perform at the Port Theatre on Friday, Nov. 10.

Bertin-Maghit said the group is hoping to make a strong first impression in this unexplored territory.

“We love the region. We’ve been to Vancouver, most of us, a few times and have been to Victoria,” he said.

“We love this part of the country so for sure we want to make a good impression and meet the people there and have the opportunity to come back in the future for sure.”

This inaugural Island visit comes after the group played its first shows in South Korea. Bertin-Maghit called the month-long Asian excursion “a big adventure” as they performed in front of surprisingly younger crowds.

“It’s quite a different audience than what we’re used to in North America or even in Europe. For classical music the audience is much younger. We were quite surprised. Lots of families, lots of kids,” he said.

“It seems to be the way there. Classical music is not connected necessarily to older people. Maybe it’s a much newer trend.”

Part of their appeal among younger fans may be attributed to collectif9’s modern production techniques, like amplification and lighting.

“We take advantage of using the equipment available and we use the light to create a visual that goes with the music,” Bertin-Maghit said.

“So it’s not only the sound that matters for us, it’s also the full experience and we try to create lighting that support the musical atmosphere.”

The group mainly focuses on classical music while also drawing connections to Eastern European folk melodies.

“Most of the pieces we play are clearly folk influenced and that allows us to go a bit outside of the classical repertoire,” Bertin-Maghit said.

“We do some more classical stuff like Shostakovich or Beethoven. It’s a succession of different short pieces. We don’t play full symphonies … like with five movements for one piece. We play individual movements. That allows us to present a variety of music.”

WHAT’S ON…collectif9 performs at the Port Theatre on Friday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary. For more information click here. Post-show signing in the lobby.

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