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Piano ensemble promises dynamism, fusion

The Spirit of Rhythm takes the term ensemble to the next level, with multiple instruments and no vocals, nor a single musical solo.
Victoria Francisco
Victoria Francisco

The Spirit of Rhythm takes the term ensemble to the next level, with multiple instruments and no vocals, nor a single musical solo.

The piano ensemble concert means there will always be two pianos on stage and up to four acclaimed pianists playing them.

“When you’re performing, it can be very stressful,” said Richmond pianist and co-organizer of the show, Victoria Francisco. “But when you have someone to share the stage with, the stress is divided. In that same way, the joy and successes are multiplied as they are shared amongst all the performers.”

Francisco will share the stage with the renowned German Baynov piano ensemble, and pianists Dorothy Uytengsu of Vancouver and Korean-born Rosa Hong from Surrey on Saturday, Aug. 31 at Lansdowne Centre.

Prior to that, on Aug. 29, they will perform in Vancouver at St. Helen’s Anglican Church at 7 p.m.

The Baynov piano ensemble has performed worldwide, with sometimes as many as eight pianos on stage.

“The performances are very dynamic,” said Francisco, who is originally from the Philippines and has performed across the globe. “The type of music is very different. It’s not exactly rock, not exactly classical or jazz, but more of a fusion of everything.”

The concert features pieces by professor and composer Tomislav Baynov — who the ensemble is named after, composer Bemdt Haensel and music from Bernstein’s West Side Story.

The show evolved from Haensel’s first visit to Vancouver. When he was looking out the window at YVR, he thought of writing a piece about his trip. What resulted was a composition, Flight to Vancouver.

Music by Haensel has been characterized by its labyrinth song structure and dramatic flair. 

“So we decided to put the piece together and do a concert around looking at Vancouver from a musical, rhythmic perspective,” said Francisco. “There’ll be a lot of percussion and synthesizers as well.”

As for herself, Francisco has been playing the piano since the age of three, growing up with a pianist for a mother and a violinist for a father.

“The house was always blasting with different kinds of music,” she said.

The show will feature a variety of cultures, such as, Chinese and Korean.

All proceeds from both shows go towards the Richmond Food Bank Society. The ensemble will play throughout the day at Lansdowne, and donations will be accepted. Tickets for the Vancouver show are $30 and can be purchased by contacting 604-910-9324 or spiritofrhythm2013@gmail.com.