Symphony New Brunswick transports audience into the forest

Stills from the Organic Matter music event with the performance of The Saint John String Quartet. From this Thursday, Dec 1st, 2022. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

Symphony New Brunswick performed at St. Thomas University on Dec. 1. The repertoire of the concert was inspired by the natural world and was titled, Organic Matter.

Danielle Sametz is a violinist with Symphony New Brunswick and explained where the theme of the natural world originated.

“The idea came from a book that was released last year called Finding the Mother Tree and the book, the Hidden Lives of Trees. These books really piqued my interest as they were written for a tree and the idea that we are so bound to our earth and nature and the beautiful ways that that can be expressed,” said Sametz.

She explained that one of the pieces that was played “The Evergreen” by Carolyn Shaw, is an example of a way of expressing that natural beauty in a creative form.

Second-year university student Erin Hurley is from New Hampshire. She lives on a quiet property up a dirt road. Across the road from her home is a thickly forested area.

She said that “Evergreen’s” first movement, “Moss,” reminded her of home.

“I’ve always loved moss and [the forest near my home] has a lot of moss and I feel like every time I go in there it’s just really beautiful and really peaceful,” said Hurley.

She said that she also loved the third movement, “Water,” because she felt transported to a lush forest with dew dripping off the leaves.

The other two pieces that were performed were Hyden’s piece, which has been nicknamed “The Frog” because of a bowing technique used in the piece, and Shelley Washington’s composition called “Middle Ground,” which is about the simple joy that can be experienced on summer days.

“[This concert has] lots of sort of different organic elements, I suppose you could say, it came together organically,” joked Sametz.

Sametz is originally from Saskatchewan and comes from a family of musicians. After studying music in Manitoba and New York, and spending some time travelling internationally playing the violin, she moved to Saint John and joined the Saint John String Quartet. She has lived in New Brunswick for eight years.

She said that since moving to New Brunswick she has been inspired by the natural beauty around her.

“We have such beautiful forests in New Brunswick … nature becomes a part of your life very easily here. There are so many hiking trails, so many waterfalls and really beautiful places to go that aren’t congested. There’s space for you to breathe here,” said Sametz.

She explained that she hoped that the audience would feel connected to each other while they listened to the concert, drawing connections to the way that the root systems of trees are all connected.

“It’s kind of interesting to go to a concert because you don’t necessarily know a lot of people in the audience, but you’re there having a shared experience,” she said.