For a brief moment, music melded with nature when Humber Arboretum’s Centre for Urban Ecology hosted Sustainable Sound and Space: Bach in the Arboretum on Nov. 19.
The wind blew through the trees of the North campus Arboretum, the sun radiating through the windows of the Centre as the audience gathered in their seats, eagerly awaiting the performance to come. All around the room were antlers, rocks, slices of trees and stuffed birds, displayed to celebrate the diversity of nature.
Jimmy Vincent, the Centre’s coordinator, thanked everyone for attending before introducing the star of the show, Mark Whale.
“When I think of sustainable sound, I think of sound that invites conversation,” said Whale, second violin for the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra and a professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences department at Humber.
“And I don’t mean conversation that is never ending, I mean conversation that is meaningful,” he said.
But talk isn’t necessary.
Whale turned the pages of his sheet music and positioned himself to play. His eyes seared into the pages of notes as his bow slid effortlessly down the strings of the violin. The four movements of J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 echoed off the walls and high ceilings of the Urban Ecology Centre, almost as if it were made for this one performance.
Some attendees closed their eyes, listening intently with a strange calm over each note. The light outside the Arboretum grew bright and dark, almost playing along with Whale’s notes.
When the 20-minute piece was over, Whale received a standing ovation and took a bow, later shaking hands and chatting with audience members.
“It was fantastic,” said Lee Kuhnle, a fellow professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Humber.
“It was the highlight of my day. Mark is a fantastic performer and I would love him to do this every week,” he said.
A&E Reporter Brandon-Richard Austin recorded the sights and sounds of Mark Whale’s performance for Humber Et Cetera: