The greatest expressions of the nature of love — from the most gentle to the most intense — will be explored through a style of music not often heard in Kamloops.
These short snippets of music, also known as art songs, were written for a lone voice and piano accompaniment with the intention of being performed in homes or salons.
"They weren't intended for a big concert," said vocalist Tomas Bijok. "If the madam of the household decided she wanted to sing something for her company, she'd line up the composer of the time to write her a song."
Frank Dempster Sherman and Franz Schubert are renowned art-song composers, said Bijok.
He and pianist Daniela O'Fee, will perform a collection of art songs on Saturday, Nov 10, at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Sixth Avenue.
Called Better than Chocolate: The Bittersweet Music of Love, the performance is the latest collaboration between Bijok and O'Fee, a musical partnership that began in 2009 with the recital Folk, Dance and Romance.
O'Fee always enjoyed working with Bijok, and relished the chance to perform with him again, she said. And the audience response to Folk, Dance and Romance cemented the musical partnership and paved the way for the upcoming show.
"A friend of mine came back stage . . . and she was all excited. She said 'Daniela, this is better than chocolate,'" said O'Fee.
Given that the art songs to be performed are all about love, O'Fee said the better-than-chocolate reference stuck.
"I think it also reflects on how we feel we can indulge in this music," she said. "Join us in indulging in this gorgeous music about a very universal topic."
The music is as diverse as the subject matter. Bijok said there's romantic love, erotic love, love from a mother to a child and devotional love.
"There's so many different aspects of love and I feel we cover those in the selection of the songs," he said.
The first half of the performance features the songs of French composer Gabriel Faure with selections from Swan Song.
The second set follows the folk songs of Bohuslav Martinu, the comic opera The Bartered Bride and the Italian arias of Giacomo Puccini.
Bijok and O'Fee met in the 1990s while O'Fee, a music instructor, was filling in for Westsyde secondary band teacher Sydney Griffith.
O'Fee was impressed with Bijok's dedication to music and his abilities as a multi-instrumentalist — he's proficient with the flute, violin, piano — and is an accomplished singer.
"I was just blown away," she said.
The two didn't meet again until 2009, when Bijok asked O'Fee to accompany him for Folk, Dance and Romance, a fundraiser for the Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts.
In the interm, Bijok pursued formal voice training, a journey that took him to the Prague Academy of Performing Arts, where he completed a masters degree in vocal performance. He crafted a repertoire that focused primarily on song and modern opera.
He's since performed in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, and sang the lead role in the world premiere recording of Le Jour de Bonte by Martinu.
Bijok returned to Kamloops to be with family and audition for operatic roles in North America.
O'Fee continued to teach piano out of her Sahali home and collaborate with local musicians like Cvetozar Vutev and Carlene Wiebe.
Tickets for Better Than Chocolate are $23 for adults, $18 for seniors and students. Children 12 and younger attend for free. They can be purchased through Kamloops Live! Box Office by phoning 250-374-5483 or going online to www.kamloopslive.ca.
The performance begins at 7 p.m.