Chris Donnelly

Chris Donnelly

Concert society toots its horn in next event

NICS resumes its 2013-14 season Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with an appearance by the Wolak-Donnelly duo.

PORT HARDY—It’s been several years since the North Island Concert Society audience has been treated to the sound of the clarinet.

And they’ve never heard it quite like they will this weekend.

NICS resumes its 2013-14 season Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with an appearance by the Wolak-Donnelly duo. The group is made up of Juno-nominated pianist and composer Chris Donnelly, whose background is in jazz, and clarinetist Kornel Wolak, a classical music virtuoso who has played in the principal clarinet chair with the Ontario Philharmonic Orchestra.

Together, the pair weave a complementary tapestry of classical and jazz, occasionally with a particularly pop flair. They also will get turns to show off their abilities as soloists.

Material on their debut album, 2013’s Common Ground, ranges from Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, to Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Don’t let the pair’s buttoned-down appearance fool you. The duo sport a mischievously humorous side — Bach played on the spoons, anyone? — and pair a youthful energy and personable stage presence with their improvisational chops.

Speaking of spoons, the evening also features the NICS’s annual Decadent Desserts fundraiser, with a $5 ticket entitling the bearer to one of a selection of rich, homemade dessert dishes during intermission.

The last time the clarinet was a feature instrument here came in 2009, when Evan Arntzen played New Orleans jazz with Bria Skonberg’s Hot Five. One year earlier, the clarinet was featured in back-to-back shows with Arntzen’s grandfather, Lloyd Arntzen, fronting New Orleans North, and Sean McManus utilizing it with the prairie roots/folk combo The Dust Poets.

The Polish-born Wolak, though, adds a classical dimension rarely seen on the North Island. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance at Cafe Guido and Port Hardy Museum in Port Hardy; at The Flower Shoppe in Port McNeill; or in Port Alice by calling Gail Neely at 250-284-3927.

More info available at www.niconcert.ca.