Duo Helmer at Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, WLU

February 7, 2010 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

February 6, 2010.

Last evening my husband and I attended a concert at Maureen Forrester Recital Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University.  Duo Helmer, the title of the concert, featured Sebastian Meadows-Helmer on violin and his father, Dr.Paul Helmer, on piano performing Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 47, and Fauré’s Sonata #1 in A Major, Op. 13. The fund-raising event celebrates the creation of Kanata Centre for Worship and Global Song at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Sebastian Meadows-Helmer, who holds a Masters of Music in Performance from McGill University, is a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, having studied at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary these past few years. With experience as  principal 2nd violinist in Sherbrooke’s symphony, he has more recently played violin with the Kitchener- Waterloo Symphony.

Dr. Paul Helmer, born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, has a varied and extensive career in performance.  He holds a PhD in historical musicology from Columbia University in New York. In his career, he has played both soloist and accompanist parts and has been recorded by the CBC. McGill-Queen’s University Press has recently published his book Growing with Canada, about emigré musicians from Europe and their contributions to Canadian music. The program gave much more information about him.

Reviewing music is better left to those who know the terms and have more theoretical and practical experience. Let me just say that the Helmer duo have earned their accolades and accomplishments by their attention, hard work and passion for classical music. Both Helmers performed challenging and lengthy movements, dazzling the attentive audience with their quick fingers and the deep feeling their music produced.

I had heard Sebastian play violin accompaniments to our Inshallah choir instrumental ensemble at rehearsals at the seminary, Inshallah concerts, and ordination services last year. I always found it a treat to listen to him. The notes that came from his violin I call heavenly, for lack of a better word. I could listen as long as he wants to play. Having heard him play before, I especially wanted to attend this concert.

Perhaps it’s being right in the concert hall with the performers that makes the performance so special.  It’s been some years since my husband and I have taken a yearly subscription to hear our local symphony perform. The online video of the Beethoven sonata I had listened to the night before was intriguing; I liked the music, but I found Duo Helmer much more attractive than the online video, with no offence to that highly trained musician. Maybe it is also the personal connection with Sebastian and having met him before.  Maybe it was just that he and his father worked so well together.

I would have liked to tape this performance to listen to again and again, but in its place, I will just remember a stunning and magical performance from two skilled and passionate musicians. I hope I may hear them play together again sometime.


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