Review by Judith Caldwell
Maitrise des Hauts de France, Young Singers of Lampersart, is a French boys choir who began their 2019 North American concert tour on July 12th at Burlington’s oldest church, St Luke’s Anglican, and will end their tour- after many stops in the United States – at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, the newest church in Waterdown on July 28th. They are a group of about 40 singers in every regular register (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) who all come from the town of Lamersart, near Lille in northern France. The choir was founded in 1970, performing regularly in Europe including at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and for Queen Elizabeth. The Choir = on stage
They perform in competitions, festivals and cultural exchanges with world renowned children’s choirs and do a North American tour during the summer holidays.
Jerome Cupelli has been their director since 2010. He is a professional journalist and an experienced musician, especially with children’s choirs. He runs choir training sessions all across northern France. The choir is accompanied by Helene Martin an Associate Professor of Music and principal organist for Noyon Cathedral. Quality and pleasure are the key words they want associated with the choir and they provided both in abundance for their opening concert.
They began with three pieces of sacred music that were all very different from one another, Laudate Dominum by Handel was a statement of praise; Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei by Gounod were spiritual supplications; and Psallite by Anonymous 1530 was short and lively and sung acapella. Then Christmas in July via Deck the Halls and Joy to the World gave the boys a chance to show off their English. It was quite delightful to hear them sung in English with French accents. A popular French folk song, Enfant de la terre, completed the first half of the concert. After intermission the choir showed their range by singing in Polish, Juz sie smierzcka; in Slovac, Tancuj,tancuj vykrucaj; and then doing an a capella version in English of an American spiritual, “My Lord, what a morning”. The music up to this point had been excellent and the audience obviously enjoyed it, but then the choir did an absolutely stunning version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was dramatic, rousing, complex and a clear audience favourite. Two contemporary French sacred pieces sung next were slow and very beautiful.
The evening wrapped up with O Canada sung in both English & French with the audience encouraged to participate. A lot of dedication and rehearsals on the part of the boys went into that concert.