Arts & Culture
5:19 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Violinist Angèle Dubeau Mines Cancer Experience In New CD

When Angèle Dubeau was diagnosed with cancer, her fans reached out and asked her to share her experience through music.
When Angèle Dubeau was diagnosed with cancer, her fans reached out and asked her to share her experience through music.
Credit Courtesy: Analekta

Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2013. Her latest CD, Blanc, traces the range of emotions during her illness - from anxiety to sadness to hope - with songs by composers such as Dave Brubeck, Mark O'Connor and Cat Stevens.

"It's my number 38 CD and, of course, this one, my approach is more personal than ever," Dubeau said this week in a KPR interview. "This recording was not planned at all. I conceived it after numerous messages I received from the public...women, like me, who had battled cancer."

Interview highlights:

The musical color of health

"I asked myself this very, very simple question: 'What's the color of health, of healing?' And my answer was, 'White, blanc, in French.' White because for me white is serenity, purity. White also because I choose in this repertoire luminous pieces of music that are filled with hope."

An expansive, and surprising, repertoire

"It's a gift I gave to myself many, many years ago: to always see the choice of my repertoire with no limit of choice. So, here, I wanted to tell a story with this album. I looked for musical moments that moved me, from various composers, from sadness to joy also, and hope. So musical moments fully charged with emotion.

"It starts with music that will deeply surprise and shock the listener, I think. It's an excerpt from a video game, BioShock, that evokes perfectly the state of mind and shaky news of a cancer."

Moments expressed through music

"Those moments evoke also sadness, and also solitude. Because solitude was something I felt during my flight against cancer. And I called it my 'strange solitude' because I was so well surrounded by my family, my friends, and beautiful and many, many messages I received from the public. But, you know, I think ultimately everyone is always alone when facing illness. So, just evocation of those human emotions that I wanted to express with the music."

Mark Edwards is the classical music editor and morning classical host at Kansas Public Radio.

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