Review by Danny Gaisin
The historical period familiarly called ‘The Renaissance’ ran from the 14th to 17 centuries and supposedly began in Italy. linking the Middle ages with modern history and reflected a nostalgia for the ancient Greek philosophical era, its artistic nostalgia emphasized humanism establishing definitive customs and conventions on society. Musically, one of the foremost proponents of the new ‘school’ was Guillaume Dufay. The bastard son of a priest, he became famous for his masses, hymns and magnificats sung during Vespers – formats clerically known as antiphons.
MUSIKAY, under artistic director Stéphane Potvin presents concerts that are far more than just entertainment… they are erudite and educational even for those individuals with a classical music background or affinity. The seven-member choir’s vocal concert at Oakville’s St. John’s Church featured not only Dufay but his contemporaries Antoine Busnois, Johannes Ockeghem & Gilles Binchois. Only omission – a piece by John Dunstable! Arranged referencing, phrasing and precision are hallmarks of the genre and are especially effective procedural routines by this group and its director. The respitory capacity of the tenors was amazingly demonstrated during the ‘Gloria’ section of Dufay’s “Missa se La face ay pale”.
The soprano and Alto exponents vocally possess an angelic sweetness that mirrors the original castrati advocated by the church choirs of the Renaissance. To stand and vocally resonate for almost two hours reflects more than just dedication, staunch devotedness to their mission obviously is tantamount.
A new composition by the director was created as a paean to the memory of the Potvin’s son Dreyes who sadly was lost in infancy. The piece and its English lyrics is touching and certainly à propos. Along with my muse and mutual friend Boris Brott, we offered what little solace we could to the Potvins a decade ago. One a lighter note; the concert ended with another contemporary composition by twelve year-old Loic Potvin entitled ‘The Swinging Monkey’. This piece showed surprising sophistication and maturity reflecting an obvious musical potential. The adage about a falling apple seems to resonate!
Serendipitously, there was another almost-teen-ager in the audience who displaying an aptitude for pedagoguery and patience with an old-fashioned senior, gave me a quick course in the finer points of our new Android™ smartphone operation. Now, I can confidently shut the damn thing fully OFF as well as delete the messages and unwanted emails.