The Earhart Ensemble includes 15 local musicians, from Hey Rosetta!’s Josh Ward and Ouroboros’ Susan Evoy to Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra violinist Carole Bestvater and award-winning flutist Rozalind MacPhail, performing together under the direction of Duane Andrews.
This Saturday will see the ensemble’s second flight: the first show took place last fall, though the group is something Andrews had been thinking about putting together for a while.
“The vision, for me, is a sort of community ensemble,” Andrews said of the group. “It’s open to anybody, and probably the strongest criteria is strong music reading skills. The whole idea is around the music we experience; there might be someone with a classical background who’s interested in jazz, or the other way around. It’s set up so you can have one foot in your comfort zone and one in new territory.”
Along with the previously mentioned artists, the Earhart Ensemble includes Ellen Waterman, Kathy Conway-Ward, Mitchel Fleming, Nicole Hand, Terry Campbell, Catherine Tansley, Marrie Burton, Etienne Pemberton Renaud, Chris McGee, and Keith Harding, playing flute, oboe, saxophone, trumpet, violin, viola, bass, guitar, percussion and tuba.
The ensemble will present a free, family-friendly show Saturday evening at 8 p.m. at 221 Duckworth St., in the art deco-style location known as the South Beach building, performing pieces by Django Reinhardt, Igor Stravinsky, Charles Mingus and others.
The Earhart Ensemble is one of many projects Andrews has going on.
He’s a Juno Award-winning guitarist, composer and producer, a member of the Swinging Belles and Fretboard Journey and a solo artist — his most recent solo album is 2015’s “Conception Bay.”
He’s also a masters student in instrumental conducting at MUN, and is just about finished the degree. He already had a number of orchestral-focused endeavours in mind, he said; his enrollment in the program has helped facilitate them.
Here are a couple he’s particularly excited about, with good reason: on April 26, Andrews will perform with members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra at The Rocket Room, taking audience members on a musical adventure, the NAC said in a media release, where guitar and chamber music will meet jazz and Newfoundland and Labrador traditional tunes.
Earlier that day, he’ll participate in a concert for students at Holy Heart Theatre alongside members of both the NAC orchestra and the NSO, in connection with the Rotary Music Festival. Andrews, St. John’s native Sean Rice and world-renowned violinist James Ehnes will debut “Revolutions on a Reel,” a piece Andrews composed by commission. They’ll perform under the direction of NAC orchestra director Alexander Shelley.
“This is what really puts me over the moon,” Andrews told The Telegram. “James Ehnes is one of my heroes. Just to be so close to him, let alone have him play something I wrote, totally feels huge.”
The concerts are part of the NAC Orchestra’s national tour in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The Atlantic leg of the tour will includes education and community engagement activities with a total of 6,000 students, educators, community leaders and artists. There will also be events focusing on reconciliation through the arts; one of them is “I Lost My Talk,” a powerful new work by John Estacio based on a poem by Mi’kmaq elder and poet Rita Joe about her time in a residential school.
Tickets for the April 26 Rocket Room show are $20 ($10 for seniors and students) plus taxes and feeds, and are available online at danac.brownpapertickets.com .
(Editor's note: This story and photo have been amended to correct a time reference and address.)