Home Feature Dispatches from the Ottawa Grassroots Festival night three: Saturday

Dispatches from the Ottawa Grassroots Festival night three: Saturday

The Alireza Tarviji Ensemble at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival. Photo by Marcus Mitropoulos.

Night three of the Ottawa Grassroots Festival featured orchestral genius from the Alireza Tarviji Ensemble and Eastern European folk from Polky.

The night marked the final evening at St. Michael’s Presbyterian church, as we move to Irene’s Pub on Sunday.

The theme of the evening was ethnic diversity, said artistic director Ian Tamblyn.

Alireza Tarviji Ensemble took the stage around 7:30 p.m., shocking crowds with their array of instruments. The group is comprised of Iranian-born violinist and University of Ottawa music student Alireza Tarviji, cellist Fanny Marks, violinist Emmanuelle Lambert-Lemoine, and violinist Galina Rezaeipour.

Alireza has been practicing the violin since he was just seven years old. He performed in a multitude of orchestras globally before continuing his education in Canada in 2020.

A standing ovation

The ensemble’s music stirred feelings of passion in me. Along with its guests it performed an emotional set that kept audience members on the edge of their seats.

The second to last song in particular had me enthralled. At times, there were moments of silence that forced a rush of adrenaline and anxiety in me. I was waiting for the next string to be plucked, eagerly waiting to feel that sense of euphoria that repeatedly arose in me throughout the set.

The Alireza Tarviji Ensemble left the stage to a standing ovation. Unfortunately, the crowds cries for an encore went unanswered as the group didn’t have one prepared, perhaps owing to the need to make way for the next act.

Although they had a tough act to follow, Polky did a brilliant job when they came on stage at around 9 p.m.

Polky is a Toronto-based, women-led, Eastern European band created by three Polish women. Ewelina Ferenc sings; Ala Stasiuk dances; and Marta Solek performs with a multitude of instruments.

Ewelina Ferenc of Polky meets fans at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival. Photo by Marcus Mitropoulos.

Peter Klaassen joined the band playing upright bass, while Sam Clark and Oisin Hannigan played fiddle and percussion.

The group provided a much different experience from the one offered by the Alireza Tarviji Ensemble.

Its music was boisterous and percussive and featured powerful vocals, while that of the Alireza Tarviji Ensemble was evocative and filmic.

On Polky’s website, they say that their music takes you on a “musical journey to Poland, the melting pot of Eastern and Central Europe, with Ukrainian, Jewish and Slovak musical influences!” This could not have rung more true. The crowd, which was a bit larger than Friday’s, seemed bowled over as the group’s powerful sound shook the church.

Irene’s Pub will be the host of tomorrow’s final-day festivities, starting at 11 a.m. and concluding well into the evening.


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