Classical standouts to perform in Yarmouth

Canadian cello-piano duo feature old, new musical influences




SaltWire Network


Yarmouth-based Hear! Here! Society had such a good taste of one of Canada’s promising young cellists last summer that the classical music presenters’ group is bringing him back to town. This time, David Liam Roberts is teaming up with another national upstart, pianist LaLa Lee, for an Atlantic Canadian tour that includes two concerts in Yarmouth on March 18. The shows — titled Paris to Pesaro … via Petersburg, with Liam and LaLa — are set for 4 and 7 p.m. in the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives at 22 Collins St. Last August, Roberts performed in front of Yarmouth audiences while in concert with the Aurore String Quartet at Beacon United Church. “Liam is really top drawer,” said Hear! Here! Society cochair Belle Hatfield. “He’s an amazing performer. He was excited to be able to come back as part of a duo this time. We’ve already experienced David Liam Roberts, so we’re looking forward to it.” The cello-piano duo brings together two graduates of the renowned Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Lee is formerly of Halifax and Roberts has Winnipeg roots. They provide a modern perspective on classical music standards. “Classical music is a genre that’s both old and fresh,” Hatfield said. “Although the music itself is often part of a repertoire that people have been listening to for hundreds of years — although there is also contemporary music in the classical field — each performer brings a fresh perspective to it. “(Roberts and Lee) are young people. They’re going to be bringing a fresh look at some old standards and putting it together in a new way.” The Yarmouth shows are being held in collaboration with Debut Atlantic, the presenting agency for the Atlantic Canadian tour. “It was one of five or six tours that we had an opportunity to present,” Hatfield said. “We had obviously had a taste (of Roberts’ talent) and understand a little bit about what we’re getting, so we’re pretty happy about that.” For the Atlantic concert run, the Liam and LaLa duo draws on old and new musical influences. “Sometimes the way to move forward is to look to the past for inspiration,” Roberts said in a news release. “This was true for Igor Stravinsky and Francis Poulenc, as they based many of their works on the style of early music composers. “For many years, I have been wanting to pair Poulenc’s Suite française and Stravinsky’s Suite italienne in a recital program, and LaLa and I are thrilled to be finally featuring these two works together.” The musical program begins with Claude Debussy, includes Stravinsky and Poulenc and finishes on an Italian note with an aria arrangement from The Barber of Seville. Tickets for the Yarmouth shows are $25 each at the door and are also available for $20 in advance by contacting Geoffrey Day at or 902-749-7411. Via sponsorships, student tickets are free of charge, but those must be reserved in advance. Organizers advise seating at the museum is limited and the shows might sell out in advance. “We have a small concert venue and the reason that we have two concerts is so that we can present them at half capacity,” Hatfield said. After the two-year COVID-19 hiatus, the Yarmouth group resumed concert presentations “very carefully” last summer, still respectful of the pandemic realities. “I find our audiences take our lead,” Hatfield reported. “We are all masked ourselves and we ask our guests to mask if they’re comfortable, so there are masks available.” She said Hear! Here! Society is appreciative of Debut Atlantic for accommodating the small concert venue in Yarmouth and thankful for Arts Nova Scotia grant funding “that makes our programs financially accessible to all.”