Strings duo offering Creston concert spanning 400 years of music

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Jeff Faragher (left) and Alex Nichol are Cellar Notes.

Jeff Faragher (left) and Alex Nichol are Cellar Notes.

The Cellar Notes duo of Jeff Faragher (cello) and Alex Nichol, (double bass) will be presenting a musical offering spanning four centuries and six cultures on Sunday at the Prince Charles Theatre. The concert is prelude to Faragher and Nichol performing 10 health arts concerts in seniors’ homes in the Kootenays, starting with Swan Valley Lodge on May 25.

Together, the cello and the double bass form the foundation upon which the symphony orchestra’s sound is built. Composers have long known that the brilliance of the cello reinforced with the dark, rich timbre of the bass creates a potent synergy that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Faragher holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Alberta and a master’s degree in music performance from McGill University. In between academic years, he pursued supplementary studies with such internationally renowned cellists as Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot and YoYo Ma. He was born and raised in Edmonton, where he began his musical studies at the age of three. Following his graduation from McGill, Faragher returned to Edmonton where he undertook studies leading to an MBA, became the head cello instructor for the Edmonton public school system, as well as serving as head of the string department at Grant McEwan College.

Faragher is a prodigious talent with an innovative spirit. Rather than a career in a major orchestra, he has chosen a life in the Kootenays where he is free to explore the full range of teaching, coaching, performing and conducting possibilities. These include the position of music director of the Symphony of the Kootenays.

Nichol pursued a meandering career path that passed through a master’s degree in European history before being diverted from academic ambitions into the life of a symphony orchestra musician. Over a period of 25 years, Nichol performed with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra of Manchester, England, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In the course of his stay in England, he purchased the fine, old Italian bass that has been his musical companion for 45 years.

In the early ’80s, Nichol’s interest in wine and winemaking led to his writing the first book on the B.C. wine industry, entitled Wine and Vines of British Columbia, in 1983. Six years later, he and his family moved to Naramata, planted vines, made wine and opened for business as Nichol Vineyard Winery in 1993.With retirement in 2006, Nichol’s focus has returned to music-making. He is currently the principal bass of the Symphony of the Kootenays and performs as an extra musician with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

The May 17 show begins at 2 p.m. Admission is by donation.

—CELLAR NOTES