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Looking Back: Goin’ For Baroque


John Kinnear

Aug 16, 2023

The remarkable Ximenez Quartet performed flawless baroque works by Mozart, Haydn, Pleyel, Gossec and Ximenez.

On August 10 at Taco Van Leperen’s home ( the former Hillcrest United Church) and again at the Crowsnest Pass Golf Clubhouse the remarkable Ximenez Quartet performed flawless baroque works by Mozart, Haydn, Pleyel, Gossec and Ximenez to capacity crowds. 

The quartet is named after 19th century Peruvian composer Pedro Ximenez Abril Tirado (1784-1856), one of the key composers of Latin America in the early 19th century. The birth of the Ximenez quartet happened in 2019 out of the shared passion for exploring music by lesser-known composers, especially those from the Americas.   

The quartet included Montreal based Karin Cuellar on violin (Bolivia), Simon Alexandre on violin (Canada) Jimin Dobson on viola (Korea/Canada) and Jessica Korotkin on cello (USA). This quartet has made it their mission to bring this repertoire to a concert platform in a sensitive, historically informed and contextualized manner. Their presentations were absolutely perfect. 

Their aim is to place this music in equal terms with music from the canonic, mostly euro-centered repertoire. Canonic, as I understand it , is a melody played and then imitated (one or more times) by others i.e. playing the same part at different times.  This resulted in some fascinating and delightfully engaging selections on both nights, played with obvious passion and expertise.  The Classical era selections played  were of music that dates from about 1750 to 1830 and is known for its elegance, balance and homophonic textures. Of this there was a great deal at both venues. Of this there was a great deal at both venues.  

The Ximenez quartet has appeared in many festivals including places like Montreal, Bolivia, Banff and Bloomington, Arizona. At both concerts each musician took turns sharing the background on selections to be played and, in the case of Jessica Korotkin, while explaining a particular piece,  revealed that all their instruments are strung with animal gut and that her cello is 17th century. She further shared that her cello has no endpin(spike), a device which was only invented in the 1830’s.  The endspike supports the cello but its design and attachment to the cello are critical to how the cello performs. Jessica supports her cello with her calves and claims this instrument has a beautiful mellow tonal quality . It did not escape some observer’s eyes that the leather pants she wore worked to help her grip her cello. 

 Their presence here was facilitated by the one and only Debbie Goldstein whose mission is to broaden and enhance our music appreciation here in the Pass.    In this case she reached out to Catalina Guevara Vasquez Klein who is with the Mount Parnassus Foundation in Calgary and who arranged for the quartet to come here. This is no easy feat coordination-wise and Parnassus covered flights and food while they were here.  They were graciously accommodated in their stay in the Pass by Pat and Dick Warner. 

Debbie, who handled all the advertising, logistics and venue arrangement, informed me that the next important concert will be one that you will absolutely  not want to miss. It will be performed by a group known as Taraf  Syriana on November 24th. It will be a fascinating mix of artistry of Syrian and Romani folk music and will offer a spectacular step back in time to music cultures hundreds of years old.  The artists featured will be Romani music legend and accordionist Siergiu Popa (Moldova/Canada), singer Dan Armeanca (Romania/Canada), and Naeem Shanwar on the qanun. The qanun is possibly a descendant of the ancient Egyptian harp and goes back to the tenth century. It is a trapezoidal shaped zither with a range of three octaves and a complex system of adjustable levers. With Popa and Armeanca will be Omar Abou Afach, a violist from Syria’s national orchestra and Noemy Braun, the inventor of a new cello-like instrument known as the sesacorda.

This eclectic event is strictly a Goldstein effort this time organization-wise  and once again will happen at Taco Van Helperen’s church venue, which offers an intimate and sound-friendly atmosphere. Tickets will be available through Eventbrite on-line starting in September and through e-transfer to For more info call 403-563-6454. 

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