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RINGing in the New Year

For this New Year's Eve, Reg Quiring will be in seventh heaven.

For this New Year's Eve, Reg Quiring will be in seventh heaven.

That's because the Coquitlam violist will reunite with his classical musician friends to perform one of his favourite works of all time: Johannes Brahms' Viola Quintet in F-major, Opus 88, a piece penned in 1882 that the Romantic composer also described as his most beautiful.

To play the "Spring" string quintet for the Dec. 31 show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, Quiring managed to gather some top-notch performers, namely, Catherine French, a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) - who grew up with Quiring in Calgary - and her cellist spouse, Joel Moerschel, who recently retired from the BSO. They're joined by Maya De Forest, a violinist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and Isabelle Roland, currently a principal viola with Lions Gate Sinfonia and a member of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

"Reg loves performing this piece," his wife, pianist Rosemary O'Connor, said of the Brahms' viola work. "When we were thinking about our program, Reg imagined who he would love to play with so he put together this quintet. This is a dream for him."

Indeed, the three-movement composition is the thrust of the evening, taking up the entire second half of the event.

However, the first part will feature two equally enthusiastic pieces: Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola, by Bohuslav Martinu, a Czech composer who fled to the United States during the Second World War; and Ludwig Beethoven's Piano Trio Opus 1. No. 1 - the perfect start to the new year given its numbers, said O'Connor, who will play the classical piece with French and Moerschel.

QuiRING in the New Year is the fourth such concert by the Quiring Chamber Players, which is also made up of Reg Quiring's sister, Angela Goddard, a Coquitlam violinist.

Its Dec. 31 recitals, which tend to be sold-out affairs, offer a change from the traditional drink-and-dance party scene, O'Connor said. "It's a really beautiful way to start the new year and end the old year," she said. "It's a really warm, elegant sound that's done with Vancouver calibre."

Though the celebratory theme is always the same - a 90-minute show that concludes with a sparkling wine reception at around 10 p.m. - the music and combination of instruments change annually.

Last year, the Players highlighted five pieces from Franz Schubert's Lieder performed by O'Connor and internationally renowned opera singer Anita Krause; cellist Shin-Lin Chen of the Borealis String Quartet and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's Chang-Min Lee and Ann Okagaito also took to the stage.

And, in 2009, Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos were in the set for the Players and their VSO guests.

O'Connor also adds tickets to the concert make great Christmas presents. But as for "ringing" in 2012 at midnight, she suggests audience members head over to the Evergreen rehearsal room afterwards where a salsa party will be underway. "You can get the best of both worlds in one location that night," O'Connor said.

Tickets for QuiRING in the New Year at Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) at 8 p.m. range from $10 to $38 and are available by calling the box office at 604-927-6555 or visiting


Catherine French (violin): Amember of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1994, French graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in music and a performer's certificate; she also holds a master's degree from Juilliard School. An award-winning performer, French was featured with the Juilliard Orchestra and James de Preist, the Boston Pops and John Williams, and at Carnegie Hall in her debut with David Gilbert.

Joel Moerschel (cello):Moerschel studied at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a bachelor's of music degree with distinction and a performer's certificate. He recently retired after 33 years in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Isabelle Roland (viola): Roland earned her bachelor's degree in music from the University of Victoria and her master's in performance at the Cleveland Institute.Currently, she is principal viola with Sinfonia, Orchestra of the North Shore, is a member of the Vancouver Opera and performs with the Vancouver Symphony, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Broadcast Orchestra.

Maya de Forest (violin): De Forest has her bachelor's degrees in music and fine arts from McGill University. In her 15 years, she has worked with ensembles across Canada and in Japan, including the National Ballet of Canada and the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra.

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