The Tatamagouche Chamber Ensemble, featuring Elizabeth Spence on piano, Janice Bush on flute, and clarinetist Bill Thompson, will perform for the first time as a new trio on Nov. 10 at Sharon United Church. Raissa Tetanish photo

The Tatamagouche Chamber Ensemble will sound a bit different than the past 20 years.

The ensemble, which formed in 1996, will make their first public appearance next month as a trio following the retirement of Geoff Hunter on the viola.

“It took a while to get used to the sound,” said Elizabeth Spence, who plays piano with Bill Thompson on clarinet, and flutist Janice Bush.

Over the past two decades, Spence has been arranging the music the ensemble performs.

“The combination (of piano, viola, flute, and clarinet) doesn’t really exist, but it turned out lovely,” said Spence. “It’s been a bit more work as a trio, and I’m still rewriting a lot of it but we still love the music.”

“After 20 years of playing, we couldn’t not continue,” said Bush. “You couldn’t find this combination elsewhere.”

“And it’s good for the brain,” Thompson said, a slight smile spreading from his mouth.
It will be Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. when the trio takes the spotlight at the Sharon United Church, performing a night of classical music. Spence has arranged all the music except for about three of the pieces. The musicians meet weekly for rehearsals, oftentimes leaving them physically and mentally drained – but in a good way.

“As with all music, you learn the music, but it’s what you do with it,” said Spence. “You’re interpreting it. It’s how you play – you can make that completely individual. You decide – are you going to play it smooth, while the rest is spiky? We always reach a consensus in the end. It’s what works for us.”

“We’re still trying to get used to being a trio,” added Thompson.

“It took about six months to a year to recognize our sound as a trio,” Bush said.

“Even though the music is the same and the instruments are the same, the sound is now different,” Spence added.

Throughout the past 20 years, there were times when additional performers were added to the ensemble, and they did perform once or twice as a trio when another member wasn’t able to make it.

The ensemble began after a resident at the time wanted some classical music for her son. The family moved away shortly thereafter, and the group continued. They have about two public performances a year, but are in high demand for private events, such as weddings.

For Thompson, it’s rehearsals, however, he enjoys the most.

“There’s less pressure,” he said. “People expect you to be 100 per cent, but you shouldn’t be. You can’t make performances perfect, and you shouldn’t.”

He said listening to music nowadays, especially recorded music, is made to be perfect in an editing studio after the fact.

“With a live performance, there’s more meaning,” he said.

“If we didn’t perform live, we wouldn’t push ourselves,” said Bush.

Stage fright, said Spence, is a problem in any public performance and those in the spotlight get used to it.

“If we don’t have stage fright, there’s more of a chance you’re going to mess up,” she said, adding it’s also the audience reaction they love. “They feed us emotionally.”

The Nov. 10 performance begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 each or $5 for 18 and under, and can be purchased at the door.