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History professor Rob Nelson demonstrates preparation of a dish.History professor Rob Nelson demonstrates preparation of a dish for a collaboration with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.

Professors give delicious context to concert series

When Robert Franz, music director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO), had an idea for a new digital concert series combining music, the story behind the music, and food connected with that music or historical period, he knew exactly who to call — UWindsor professors Rob Nelson, a historian and cook, and filmmaker Kim Nelson.

“Robert gave me some background for each piece, historical, thematic, and I found a recipe linked to that theme that could be cooked at home or prepared and purchased from a partner restaurant or café,” explains Dr. Rob Nelson.

For instance, one piece by Georg Philipp Telemann is the Overture Burlesque de Quixote.

“A bit of research indicated that the favourite dish of Quixote’s sidekick, Pancho Sanza, is las migas de pastor, an easily made dish of bacon and fried breadcrumbs,” says Dr. Nelson. “Ideally the audience members will make this dish and then along with other classics of La Mancha, a slab of Manchego cheese and roasted almonds, and a glass of Spanish red wine, enjoy the music.”

The cooking segments were filmed in the Nelsons’ kitchen in early 2021 by Dr. Kim Nelson as a COVID-safe extension of the Live Doc Project.

The Live Doc Project is a research-based creative group that explores new frontiers in live cinema and interactive spectatorship that Kim Nelson directs with a team that includes Rob Nelson, Brent Lee, Nick Hector, students, and alumni, and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The group had several shows lined up for 2020, in Europe and Mexico, as well as a planned collaboration in Windsor with the WSO for spring 2021. Of course, the live shows have been postponed until interactive theatrical experiences are safe again.

“We are thrilled to partner with the WSO on this innovative online series that invites audiences to engage multiple senses simultaneously in this way,” she says. “It was fun working with Robert Franz and everyone at the WSO and we are really looking forward to it.”

The Live Doc Project segments are edited by School of Creative Arts alum Calum Hotchkiss (MFA 2021).

Along with experiencing great music performed by the WSO, subscribers to The Music, The Story, The Food digital series of seven concerts will discover the story of the composers who wrote the music, and the trials and triumphs that influenced them. The Nelsons’ segments explore the foods popular in different places and earlier times. And they’ll get the recipes too. Id they’re not in the mood to cook, they can enjoy the food from one of the local restaurant partners in this series.

The digital concert series’ release date is Jan. 14, 2022. Viewers can watch the seven concerts in any order, binge watch, and watch multiple times. A household subscription is $100 for the package. The series expires March 31, 2022.