Review by Terry Gaisin
Something new; something exciting; something really worthwhile. Not a ‘new & improved dish-soap’ or yet another ‘miracle hair shampoo’ – but a cultural evening with a twist! The multi-talented composer/arranger/director/orchestrator par excellence, Charles T. Cozens,aided by local impresario Rick McKenzie (who did so much to rejuvenate the LYRIC theatre) is bringing a monthly concert experience to the Lincoln Alexander Centre.
The format is a novel blending of performance plus intermittent ‘Late Show’ configuration whereby Cozens cordially converses with his guests. Informality is the keyword, due in no small part to the interlocutory style Cozens has adopted. Reminiscent of the meticulous research and stimulating responses gleaned by the late Hamiltonian – Brian Linehan; the answers tend to be insightful, personal, direct and unguarded. Thus his guests seem to the audience’s guests as well.
The inaugural concert brought countertenor Fernando Lima PhD, of Buenos Aires & Madrid, Spain; and Dundas native – soprano Sarena Paton whose post-graduate degree is in Spanish! She actually intended to major in music; but after some prompting by Cozens, we learned the story behind the faculty switch! Paton’s clarity and lyric enunciation is non-pareil. Coupled with her effortless tonal quality across the full soprano range, she is an auditory delight. As an additional bonus, Paton has an instinctively pleasant demeanor reflecting her obvious joy in singing before an audience.
Lima has an eclectic resumé that seems at odds with someone whose voice is so manifestly designed for enchanting listeners. He teaches, composes, invents (!), records & plays saxophone. Categorically, the countertenor is the equivalent of contralto and thus intrinsically encompasses precision, warmth, and purity. Like Paton, Lima too has the knack of seemingly effortless projection. His facial expressions and body language all help underscore; even help translate the lyrical message behind each composition. *Note to David Speers; I can visualize him in any of those “O” roles: – Orlovsky; Oberon or Orfeo.
Two outstanding duets were the opening ‘Ave Maria’ which was an emotional experience even for this non-Gentile; and especially the touchingly performed ‘Madre Mia’ which the soloists sang with a definitely heightened personal essence. Their reading of ‘Tears’ reflected an obvious appreciation for the intro & arrangement by Cozens of the theme from Mozart’s clarinet concerto.
The concept of such an evening that offers the opportunity to see performers as ‘real people’; and to present a diverse range of artists deserves full-house attendance. The next featured group is the iconic Canadian à cappella Nylons, on Sunday Oct. 21st. The ‘Linc’s’ Box office number is 905-528-5000.