Early Music Montreal

Monday, July 11, 2005

Not Montreal, but....

I was in Chichester England and went to Evensong. What an ethereal experience. People sit right up in the choir stalls next to the choir. It is an intimate service. Chichester has a choir school so the choir is outstanding. These angelic boys (plus some tenors and basses) sing beautifully. They sang some music by Thomas Thompkins. I can understand why people like to go to Evensong. You come out feeling peaceful and light.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Regrets and Thanks

There were so many events and it was impossible to go to them all. I missed the young musicians as well as the spontaneous concerts at the cafe. Fatigue kept me from the concert honouring Mireille Lagacé. And work forced me to spend part of my day away from the Festival. I did manage dinners in the outdoor terrace near Bonsecours Market and enjoyed the ambiance of Old Montreal. Lectures I would have liked to attend went on without me and the participatory Toy Symphony also was missed. I'll have to organize my life better next year.

What a treat the festival has been. Susie Napper is to be congratulated for her inspired programming, incredible stamina and drive and unflappable personality. I have bathed in the sounds and have come out inspired and refreshed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Les Fruits de la Passion

What a treat! This extravaganza was a magnificent way to end the festival. Singers, instrumentalists, dance, acting - a feast for the eyes and ears! Orazio Vecchi's Comedie Madrigalesque: La Veglia di Siena was a delightful peek into Renaissance times as the players played games of role-playing. The dancers / actors - Marie-Natalie Lacoursière, Jean-François Gagnon, Anne-Marie Guardette and Pierre Chartrand were sumptuously dressed in Renaissance attire. The complex floor patterns and intricate steps were fascinating to watch.

David Fallis directed the musicians - singers from the Toronto Consort and Montreal musicians - La Bande Montreal Baroque, Les Voix Humaines and Les Sonores. With this many musicians there was tremendous variety in the music with lovely madrigals, lively dance music and a beautiful sonata for 2 violins by Fontana.

Unfortunately I had to hurry off at the end so I could not be at the ending celebration in the street. I know from past experience how it brings performers and audience together to celebrate "our festival" Yet again, Susie has pulled off an amazing feat!

Glory of the Vatican

This concert took place at the Chapelle Sacré-Coeur of Notre-Dame Basilica. It is a magnificent venue with a beautiful wood carving behind the altar and sun streaming down on either side from the windows on the roof. What a perfect place for this concert. SMAM which for this performance featured an a capella choir directed by Christopher Jackson, always delivers high quality concerts. This one was a gem. The music was perfect for the setting, very spiritual and complex. Palestrina's Missa papae Marcelli was the focus of the concert. His music is like a tapestry with interwoven lines. The choir produced a rich texture of sound through the interplay of voices. A highlight ( no matter where you hear it) was Allegri's motet, Miserere mei deus. A small group moved to the organ loft. The piece alternates between the main choir and the small choir. The soaring soprano part which comes from above and behind sends shivers up one's spine. It seems to come from a heavenly place.
This concert left me with a feeling of floating through the air. What a mellow way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

7:00 AM in the crypt

There is something special about the early morning on a Sunday. There is a silence and stillness. With the fresher temperature this was a magnificent Sunday. Some 50 of us filed down into the crypt of the church to hear Constantinople play music of the Middle East. It was at times hypnotic and contemplative. At times the rhythms pulled you. These musicians obviously listen to each other. They start with a melody and then improvisations. Each musician brings a special feeling both through the sound of their instrument as well as their individual feel for the music. This music carries you on a journey and when I left the crypt it was with a smile on my face.

I walked up to Café à propos where many of the concert attendees went for breakfast. Early Music lovers in Montreal are a family. There are many people I know just through concerts. This post concert breakfast allowed musicians and music lovers to mingle and chat over coffee.

Bach Cantatas

One goal of the festival has been to play Bach cantatas. Each year a few have been performed. This year, we were treated to an evening of cantatas accompanied by a large (by Baroque standards) group of instrumentalists, directed by Eric Milnes. The opening sound was large with 3 oboes and 3 trumpets added to a substantial string group. The vocal soloists: Monika Mauch, David Lee, Jan Kobow and Stephan Macleod were excellent. What amazes me is that four people can sound like a whole choir in the Choral sections.

It was a glorious evening though extremely hot. I don't know how the musicians were able to play. But play they did - and the audience wanted more.

Saturday - Cafe a gogo

Saturday afternoon found me at Cafe a Propos in the sweltering heat. I nursed an ice cappucino in an effort to cool down. We were packed in with air still and humid, but it didn't matter as we passed a lovely afternoon. I have heard Bach's Coffee Cantata a few times before (each Montreal Baroque Festival) but not in this venue. This time it was preceded by Bernier's Coffee Cantata, another lovely piece. Musically satisfying (some lovely flute solos by Mika Putterman) and humorous it was thoroughly enjoyable. I smile as I write this. Thank you Michiel Schrey, Suzie LeBlanc and Nathaniel Watson. Laughter brightens our lives.