New Classical Tracks: Music of Healing and Hope

by Julie Amacher, Minnesota Public Radio
June 18, 2014

St. Paul, Minn. — Angèle Dubeau - Blanc - (Analekta)

In January of 2013, Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following invasive surgery, she spent five months in treatment, which meant a five-month hiatus from playing her instrument. "You should have heard the first notes I played," Angèle recalls, "I remember. I was in my room and I took my violin and you know what? No one could have put more emotion per second in a note with a musical instrument, that's for sure."

The notes are now spilling out of Angèle Dubeau, who is sharing her story on her latest recording, titled Blanc.

During her journey, Angèle started to hear from many more breast cancer survivors. "Some of them were sharing with me how much my music helped them and accompanied them through their tough times," she says. "But one comment that was written on all those messages was to ask me to express the emotion I was going through with my violin. So yes, this CD tells a story. It tells my story but also, unfortunately, the story of a lot of people. So that's why I decided to do this album after this repetitive demand from the public.

"And just the choice of the title of the album — it just came to me because I had the tsunami of emotion to express and I needed to find a proper guideline to do so. And then I thought, when I play my violin, I always think of adding texture to my sound, to add also colors to the music I interpret. So I asked myself, 'What's the color of health and healing?' And right away, without hesitation, the answer was white — blanc — which means for me serenity, purity, health of course. But it means also luminous pieces of music and for me, luminous pieces of music means also that they are filled with hope.

"The first music that you will hear will deeply surprise and shock the listener because it's an excerpt from BioShock. It evoked, perfectly I think, the state of mind and the shaking news of a cancer."

Music from the video game BioSchock composed by Garry Schymann, is followed by a gorgeous, serene piece by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov called, "Close Your Eyes (The Man Who Cried)."

Joe Hisaishi is a Japanese composer with whom Angèle has shared the stage for years. Angèle says Hisaishi's piece, titled "The Rain," offers a sense of comfort. "And every time I play his music I'd always feel like he's just beside me and playing with me," she says. "So through the years I've been playing — not only on the stage but also recording here and there — music from Joe Hisaishi and this one, really for me, came to my mind to add to this CD because I thought that it was full, full, full of light, full of hope and honestly, it's a wonderful melody."

The late Dave Brubeck is another composer with whom Angèle had a special working relationship. Last April, while she was undergoing cancer treatment, Dubeau returned to New York to take part in a commemorative concert honoring Brubeck. "And of course it was a very, very touching moment and I really wanted to concretize this moment on my album," Angèle says. "You hear first 'Fujiyama.' The title of course brings us up to the summit of a mountain and it's very evocative music for me. And then you have another piece called 'The Desert and the Parched Land' and it's a celebration, I would say, filled with hope. It's a music stripped of all artifice and it starts with a very, very intimate violin and harp duo followed by the arrival of the strings of the orchestra. So it's wonderful music." Blanc is recording number 38 for Angèle Dubeau. Unlike her other recordings, this one was not planned. It's an unexpected musical detour filled with luminous pieces that share her story of healing and hope.

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