Whether you are looking to squeeze in a cheap lunch date or just de-stress between lectures, the UBC music department’s Wednesday Noon Hours are a little-known gem. Just five dollars a ticket for students, these afternoon concerts have an air of cultured sophistication that is strangely disorienting at 12 p.m. on a Wednesday.
However out of place it seemed in a day packed with ECON and COMM 101, this routine is common practice for first and second-year music students, who must attend a minimum of 10 noon hour concerts by the end of the year. Opera student Tessa Waddell doubts she’ll have a problem filling the quota.
“At first a lot of us didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as it started, I was like, ‘Holy crap this is cool,’” said Waddell.
Keep in mind that these are not performances by UBC students — nor by your English literature professor moonlighting in an over-40 reggae funk band, although there's no dispute about how hilarious that would be. The concerts are given by visiting or local professional musicians and cover a variety of genres — from jazz, to Celtic folk.
This time, it was a 20th century classical quartet called The Microcosmos performing in Barnett Hall, where all of the concerts are held. Based in Vancouver, the group performs “night music,” which is a fancier way of saying “fucking terrifying music.” Their program included one of six quartets by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók with another related work.
With its eerie, dissonant chords and modern-sounding melodies, the group rebelled against any preconceived notions of classical string quartets. When asked which of Bartók’s pieces she likes best, cellist Rebecca Wenham went with “#4,” on account of it being “pretty rock and roll.”
Despite the mild apprehension at never knowing when to clap, the concert was very casual — with many students leaving early to arrive on time to classes — and incredibly spectacular, even from the perspective of an uncultured plebeian. It is definitely worth taking in a couple of these in the next few weeks and writing them off as “midterm therapy.”
The performance on Wednesday, October 5 consisted of a guitar and fiddle duo who performed traditional Celtic music from Scotland. On October 12, concert-goers have late-60s “blue note modal bag” jazz to look forward to.
For more info, check out the website here.