Vir­tu­ose lives up to its billing

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK Spe­cial to The News

The en­tire au­di­ence of 500 peo­ple at Fri­day night’s Vir­tu­ose, le spec­ta­cle con­cert stood again and again, hands clap­ping wildly, to ap­plaud singer, pi­anist and all-round en­ter­tainer Gre­gory Charles and his three young clas­si­cal mu­si­cian pro­tégés.

The con­cert was the only On­tario leg on the 16-stop cross-Québec Vir­tu­ose tour, a chance for au­di­ences to ex­pe­ri­ence live the re­mark­able tal­ent of the young mu­si­cians Mr. Charles pre­sented in his TV se­ries, tele­cast ear­lier this year on the Ra­dio-Canada net­work.

Alexan­dria was se­lected be­cause one of con­test’s fi­nal­ists was 17-year-old cel­list Noël Camp­bell, from Alexan­dria, who wowed the TV pro­gram’s au­di­ence with his tech­ni­cal prow­ess and raw spi­catto at­tack.

The oth­ers per­form­ers were vi­o­lin­ists, 14year-old Lau­ri­anne Houde from Lévis, Québec, and Mar­jorie Bourque, 18, from Saint Ge­orges de Beauce.

The pro­gram was a crowd-pleas­ing mix of clas­si­cal and pop­u­lar mu­sic with the young mu­si­cians per­form­ing clas­si­cal so­los and ac­com­pa­ny­ing Mr. Charles as he ex­plored pop, jazz, and fi­nally, film theme songs shouted out by the au­di­ence.

What may sur­prise those who at­tended the con­cert is to learn that there was no re­hearsal for the per­for­mance.

Ac­cord­ing to Gabrielle Camp­bell, Noël’s mother, Mr. Charles knows their reper­toire af­ter work­ing with them on the TV pro­gram. On stage he call outs what they will play next and the show moves along.

The three young stars, who played with Mr. Charles at Place des Arts Au­gust 13, also re­cently recorded a Christ­mas al­bum with him to be re­leased in a few months.

Noël Camp­bell is look­ing at a very busy au­tumn. On Sun­day, his par­ents helped him with his move to Mon­tréal. Over the next months, he will be per­form­ing in the Vir­tu­ose con­certs in Val d'Or, Saint-Eus­tache, Ter­re­bonne, Gatineau, Château­guay, Drum­mondville, Trois-Rivières and Laval.

Also, on Septem­ber 3, he will be per­form­ing as a soloist at le Som­met des Arts et de la Musique de Longueuil.

In June, Gre­gory Charles was in­vested into the Or­der of Canada. At the cer­e­mony, he was praised for his “in­fec­tious en­ergy, cre­ativ­ity and ded­i­ca­tion to en­sur­ing that the per­form­ing arts and cul­ture thrive in Canada and abroad.”

The Mon­tréal-born record­ing artist, tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity, ac­tor, teacher, con­cert-hall singer and pi­anist was a child pro­tégé him­self, win­ning a na­tional pi­ano com­pe­ti­tion at age seven that cat­a­pulted him into the lime­light where he played with some of Canada’s most pres­ti­gious sym­phony or­ches­tras.

It would seem that Mr. Charles is now on a mis­sion to use his tal­ent and charisma to nur­ture and pro­vide ex­tra­or­di­nary op­por­tu­ni­ties for Canada’s next gen­er­a­tion of clas­si­cal mu­sic tal­ent.

MAR­GARET CALDBICK PHOTO

VIR­TU­OSE: Gre­gory Charles strikes a mock se­ri­ous pose as he prom­ises the au­di­ence “just one more en­core” at Fri­day's daz­zling Vir­tu­ose con­cert at Église Sacré-Coeur in Alexan­dria. With him are se­ries fi­nal­ists, Alexan­dria cel­list Noël Camp­bell and...

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