Women’s choir warms up for French con­certs

Times Colonist - - Go - KEVIN BAZZANA Clas­si­cal Mu­sic Kev­in­baz­zana@shaw.ca

Ensem­ble Laude, the pop­u­lar lo­cal women’s choir founded in 1998, does not usu­ally per­form in July. This week­end, how­ever, it will give its first sum­mer con­certs as a pre­lude to its trip to the south of France.

(Satur­day, 7:30 p.m., Church of St. Mary the Vir­gin, $20/$18/$15; Sun­day, 2:30 p.m., Prov­i­dence Farm Chapel, Dun­can, $15/$12/$10; un­der 13 free; en­sem­ble­laude.org.)

On July 31 and Aug. 2, Laude will per­form in cathe­drals in Nice and Aix-en-Provence.

Then, on Aug. 4, 7, and 9, it will per­form at Cho­ralies, a fes­ti­val in Vai­son-la-Romaine, a small, his­toric town in the Vau­cluse, 100 kilo­me­tres north of Marseille.

The fes­ti­val, launched in 1953, brings to­gether thou­sands of singers, in­stru­men­tal­ists and con­duc­tors from around the world for con­certs, work­shops and other events. Laude, at­tend­ing by in­vi­ta­tion, will be the only Cana­dian choir at this year's fes­ti­val.

This week­end, Laude will give lo­cal au­di­ences a pre­view of the hour-long pro­gram it will sing, in three dif­fer­ent venues, at Cho­ralies.

Ti­tled Flight, it plays to Laude’s strengths, shows off its range, show­cases Canada and Vic­to­ria, and tips a hat to France. It mostly com­prises mu­sic com­posed or ar­ranged by Cana­di­ans — a cou­ple of tra­di­tional Québé­cois num­bers (O Yo Yo, Reel à bouche) plus a hand­ful of works by con­tem­po­rary com­posers of var­i­ous stripes, in­clud­ing one lo­cal, Ge­orgina Craig. There is a reper­toire re­flect­ing Laude’s mul­ti­cul­tural bent (Amer­i­can, Ir­ish, Span­ish, Fin­nish, Zulu), and mu­sic by me­dieval and mod­ern French com­posers.

The en­tire pro­gram will be per­formed from mem­ory and some num­bers are be­ing chore­ographed by Kathy Lang.

(The pro­gram will be tweaked for the ear­lier cathe­dral per­for­mances, which will be de­voted to sa­cred mu­sic.)

Ensem­ble Laude has never vis­ited France be­fore, though its artis­tic di­rec­tor, so­prano El­iz­a­beth MacIsaac, was based there for sev­eral years in the 1990s.

Pow­ell River, on the Sun­shine Coast, plays host ev­ery two years to its own fes­ti­val, the In­ter­na­tional Cho­ral Kathau­mixw. (Pro­nounced “khaw-tye-mew,” the Coast Sal­ish word means “a gath­er­ing to­gether of dif­fer­ent peo­ples.”)

Founded in 1984, the five-day fes­ti­val com­prises con­certs, com­pe­ti­tions, sem­i­nars, and other events in­volv­ing more than 1,200 singers, and has be­come in­ter­na­tion­ally known.

This year's fes­ti­val closes on Satur­day, and next Wed­nes­day, two of the par­tic­i­pat­ing choirs will cross the strait to per­form down­town at First Metropoli­tan United Church (8 pm., $20/$15, fam­ily of four or more $30; first­metvic­to­ria.com).

They are the New Zealand Se­condary Stu­dents’ Choir and the At­lanta Young Singers, both ac­claimed, prize-win­ning en­sem­bles that tour and com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The New Zealand choir won Kathau­mixw’s first Peo­ple’s Choice Award in 2010 and was cho­sen as the 2016 guest choir, while the At­lanta choir won a gold medal and diploma at the 2014 World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia.

Christ Church Cathe­dral’s Sum­mer Recital Series, now more than 50 years old, be­gins on Satur­day in the cathe­dral’s nave (4 p.m., ad­mis­sion by do­na­tion) and will con­tinue ev­ery sub­se­quent Satur­day through the end of Au­gust.

As usual, the series com­prises short pro­grams (about an hour) rang­ing widely in terms of reper­toire and per­for­mance me­dia and fea­tur­ing both young and es­tab­lished per­form­ers, mostly lo­cals, among them mem­bers of some of our best en­sem­bles.

The lineup in­cludes the young pi­anist Barry Tan (this Satur­day), play­ing Mozart, Chopin, Ravel, and Medt­ner; the Emily Carr String Quar­tet (July 16), per­form­ing works in­clud­ing a late Haydn quar­tet; the West Coast Cham­ber Play­ers (July 23), a mixed quin­tet whose pro­gram in­cludes Bach’s Mu­si­cal Of­fer­ing and Mozart’s Horn Trio; KlaVIERhan­ds, a four­hand pi­ano duet com­pris­ing Jane EdlerDavis and Wendy Stofer (July 30), play­ing Grieg and Dvorák among other things; so­prano Eve Daniell (Aug. 6), singing both clas­si­cal and pop­u­lar num­bers; and the vi­o­lin duet of Eva Svens­son and Thomas Wil­liams (Aug. 20).

On Aug. 13, in a re­turn ap­pear­ance, the Vic­to­ria Sym­phony’s su­perb long­time prin­ci­pal clar­inetist, Keith MacLeod, will col­lab­o­rate with his daugh­ter, so­prano Heather MacLeod, and pi­anist Char­lotte Hale.

The series will con­clude on Aug. 27, with an­other re­turn, by pop­u­lar de­mand: Vic­to­ria Sym­phony trum­peter David Michaux will be joined by sev­eral brass and string col­leagues and pi­anist Robert Hol­lis­ton in an eclec­tic pro­gram in­clud­ing a sex­tet and a septet.

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