Review by Danny Gaisin
Given that the intermission pastries were from the town’s Danish Bakery; using the ‘’ term for a wide range or variety of something seems a apropos. The O.C.O.’s concert at St. John’s had something for every taste…classical music; new compositions; operatic arias and popular standards. Almost all had an Oakville story or a connection. The opening work was a recently discovered piece by the late Amice Calverley; an Oakvillian with almost ‘Rambo’ résumé. War hero, archeologist; film maker; impresario; re-builder and composer. The work was conducted by Charles Demuynck of Oakville! The audience also heard a premiere of his own new composition.
The major classical offering was Mozart’s D major concerto for Violin & Orchestra and performed by Stephen Sitarski. Readers may recall that we became fans of this HPO concertmaster when he held the same role with the K/W Symphony. Sitarski is a consummate musician- soloist; artistic director; conductor; teacher and arranger. His reading of the Mozart was energetic, at times melodic; emotional and occasionally almost sadly bucolic. During the 2nd movement andante cantabile (the designation; NOT the Tchaikovsky string quartet) Sitarski certainly brought out the sinuous melodic feature of the description. No slurring during the solo riffs and a lilting élan projected not only through his interpretation but in his emotive posturing. BTW, this is a work that should be in every classical record collector’s library. It’s moving; hummable and melodious.
Post interval (and those pastries); a new composition by some named C. Dymenuck (Holy proof-reading Batman, surely every OCO member knows it’s DEMUYNCK –pronounced demink. Then, three arias sung by soprano Tessa Laengert (of Oakville) who brought emotion to her ‘O mio babbino caro’ and especially the (La Bohème) Act I aria where Mimi introduces herself to Rodolfo in order to borrow a candle. Her rendering of the hilarious ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ from “The Bat” demonstrated her diction and vocal projection as she physically underscored the lyrics.
For a more contemporary genre; Oakville native Ashleigh Semkiw selected three excerpts from musicals. Two were by Gershwin including an effective ‘Summertime’ when conscripted almost silent recitations from across the audience spectrum. His ‘They Can’t Take that away…” piece from the 1937 Astaire movie ‘Shall We Dance’ was also a biggie for Armstrong/Fitzgerald and even a cover by ‘Old Blue Eyes’. Semkiw has a soft soprano voice but seems a little shy in her deliveries. Both ladies presented the ‘Flower Duet’ from Lakmé which is a standard for every staging of a concert format opera evening. They even finale-ed off stage; a Delibes compulsive.
The evening; the content; the locale premise and the intimacy of St. John’s made this a remarkable evening; and with one of the raffle draw numbers being in the 270’s; obviously the O.C.O. must be doing something right to attract such a sizable audience.