Les Voix des Anges

July 29, 2009

Last night, an excited audience was graced with the beauty of Les Voix Baroques in a performance celebrating the 350th anniversary of the birth of English composer, Henry Purcell. During the course of a concert lasting almost 2 hours, the vocal and instrumental collaborators spun a beautiful tapestry of baroque works in which the individual musicians fed off one another for creative energy.  The bowing of the string orchestra was fluid and held great direction; the musical ideas seemed spontaneous; and the lute added a very special component – in some pieces, a fairy tale, mystical quality and in others, a Spanish flare.


            The singers themselves were amazing. Bass vocalist Tyler Duncan showed an incredible range of character and moods, and was definitely a highlight of the evening. One could see him nodding his head, his eyes closed, smiling, while listening to the performance as he awaited his entry. It was very interesting to watch, because there could be no doubt about his love for the music he was singing, as well as his great appreciation for the music surrounding him.  Tenor Charles Daniels and counter-tenor Matthew White had the voices of angels which soared through the cavernous walls of St. Brigid’s and were masterful at blending with the voices and strings around them. The vocal quality they added – for more than harmonic reasons – were for me what sustained the ensemble as a whole.  The two sopranos, Yulia Van Doren and Shannon Mercer, were truly beautiful. It would have been impossible to dissect anything in their singing, as their inflections kept one trained on their voices, their physical movements were like watching an operatic performance, and the purity of every note was enough to wrench one’s heart. In short, the vocal ensemble delivered an amazing performance!


            As a flutist, there is a close connection between the voice, not only in deciding where to breathe, but also in using the body and musical intent to play phrases as though I were singing them. It’s a mind set that’s always helpful in opening the throat, using my chest and facial cavities for resonance, and getting a bigger, more ringing sound. I rarely have the chance to go to vocal concerts, and so I always have to imagine it as though I myself were singing (which means I’m imitating an amateur). Last night’s concert was helpful to me in realizing more of the imagery I need to use to become a better performer.


            Another interesting aside for me: the music of Les Voix Baroques reminded me of an event I participated in three years ago – the Boxwood Festival in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where I learned about Celtic and Cape Breton styles of playing through the teachings of flutist Chris Norman and fiddler David Greenberg (who will be playing 2 concerts with harpsichordist David Mcguiness at St. Brigid’s on August 4th – don’t miss this!). While at Boxwood, I had the great pleasure of attending a recital of early Acadian melodies which featured these performers together with Acadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc, who was there to work with musicians on early singing. It turns out that, while she was not part of last night’s event, Suzie LeBlanc is also a soloist with Les Voix Baroques. While her repertoire was very different from what we heard last night, it wasn’t a complete surprise to find out she was a part of this group.  Baroque music has many of the same elements as the Celtic style – a simple, basic melody, repeated with ornaments. Also the freedom and swing to the music are similar. For me, it is always fun to be able to play music from early eras and compare it to traditional folk music, both of which I particularly enjoy.  In fact, tonight will find me at Dominion Chalmers listening to the music of the Roby Lakatos ensemble, and looking forward to identifying the gypsy influence and snatches of the folk music which one of my favourite composers, Bela Bartok, incorporated in some of the pieces I most enjoy.

Lindsay Bryden, flutist


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: