At this time of gift giving, here's a story about a remarkable gift - an entire library of music. Two years ago, harpsichordist Eric Lussier offered his enormous library of baroque music to the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
In thanks, the MCO's Vicki Young offered Lussier the opportunity to guest curate a concert. That gave him the chance to mine the rich collection for some of his favourite Christmas music. Two years in the making, the concert takes place Dec. 17.
Lussier's scores filled an entire wall in his home. He spent 25 years amassing the library for his orchestra MusikBarock and he thought the MCO would be the perfect ensemble to inherit it.
"Now their library is quite complete in the baroque area," he said.
Lussier feels the MCO plays an extremely important role in Winnipeg's music community.
"They're a bit like a Ferrari to me," he said. "Because they're a chamber group, their size is a bit more maneuverable."
Giving the library to the MCO meant the official end of MusikBarock, although the orchestra still convenes twice a year to perform with the choral group Canzona. As it happens, Canzona will also be joining the MCO in this concert, singing a work by the Czech baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka.
For this program, Lussier immediately picked out a work by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, his Noëls pour les instruments.
"I've always been banging the door down about French music in this city and I'd like more of it to be heard," he said. "These noëls are very charming."
As well, he chose the ever-popular Christmas concerto by Arcangelo Corelli.
"You can't possibly NOT do the Corelli Christmas Concerto," he said. The work includes a lovely pastoral movement. "You can almost picture the nativity scene with Mary holding the child and cradling it -- that sense of peace."
Lussier has performed many times with the orchestra and frequently loans his harpsichords for their concerts. On Dec. 17 he will be enjoying the music from the vantage point of the audience.
"For me, it's nice sometimes to just listen."
The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor David Fallis, performs with Canzona at Westminster Church on Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.