And so the final curtain: Forsyth takes a bow as a soloist with NACO by Xi Wang

In the crowded dressing room that she and Pinchas Zukerman share backstage, Amanda Forsyth was tidying up the pieces of her last solo concert as a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

It was a night of significance for the institution and for the principal cellist of NACO, who will leave the ensemble at the end of this season.

Forsyth has been a “presence” with NACO for 17 years. Call it star power or charisma, when she is on stage people watch her.

Thursday night she gave them something more to look at and, in an interview later, to think about.

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Travails of Travel with a Cello by Xi Wang

Don’t tell Pinchas Zukerman, but Amanda Forsyth has another man in her life. His name is Carlo. He’s Italian, 300 years old, about four feet tall and made of wood. On second thought, Zukerman has probably met this guy. He lives in a special carbon fibre case in the home he shares with Forsyth. Carlo is, after all, a cello and a very expensive one at that, having been made by Carlo Giuseppe Testore in 1699 and being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That all makes Forsyth pretty protective of old Carlo, her nickname for her instrument.

“He’s my other husband,” she says. “Whenever I go to Italy, I always open his case and say welcome home.”

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Music so beautiful it hurts by Xi Wang

A couple of years ago, the organizers of the Outaouais Festival of Sacred Music decided to offer concerts in Ottawa as well as in what we now call Gatineau. This was probably a good idea since the few suitable venues north of the river are difficult to find if you don’t know the city well. Then there was the problem that the best and most relatively findable performance space, the St-Benoît-Abbé church, became unavailable. (It’s soon to be converted to a palliative care facility.)

So this year’s festival opened at Southminster United Church, about a block from the Mayfair Theatre. How was the Friday night parking? You don’t want to know. The program featured cellist Amanda Forsyth and friends and was made up of two works, Ravel’s Trio in A minor and Messiaen’s Quatuour pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time).

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