Blistering virtuosity was the chief item on an Ajijic tribute concert’s bill of fare Friday, March 2, and by the end of the 50-minute program the audience packing the tiered seating inside the modern, expensive looking interior of the town’s Auditorio were as satiated and blissed out as a pack of wolves after a kill.
The event was organized by Northern Lights founder Chris Wilshere following the sudden, tragic passing of Quartetto Gelato’s Alexander Sevastian on Friday, February 16 in Ajijic. The show’s emphasis on technical wizardry seemed an apt tip of the cap to Sevastian, a Russian-born Canadian accordionist who dazzled spectators around the world with his lightning fingered technique and incisive musicality, elevating a lesser known instrument from beer-stained barroom to hushed concert hall.
Hours before the concert in the Wilshere’s bucolic back patio, there was little hint that a frenzy of gouging violins and piano hammering would shortly ensue. The players slouching comfortably around a large, circular wrought-iron table included violinist Wilshere, ever affable and fresh-faced in spite of his constant organizational onus, pianist James Parker, jazz singer Genevieve Marentette, violinist Stephen Sitarski, violist Katrina Chitty and Andrew Robertson, personal chef for the Wilshere household.
Not unlike, say, boxers or brain surgeons, off-duty classical musicians are a supremely relaxed lot; the intense concentration their trade demands has its counterpoint in the loose bonhomie that characterizes what little downtime they can finagle from their busy schedules.
Given the solemn occasion, the bonhomie around the table was suitably subdued, but shot through with a melancholic humor as players and chefs alike swapped stories of the esteemed, prematurely departed Sevastian.