“Choral Spectacular”, NAO’s terrific Festival closer Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

The Brott National Academy Orchestra finished its 30th season with a superlative concert; four featured soloists and seventy-four choir-members selected from dozens of diverse venues – all coming together as one coordinated unit. The magic required to accomplish such a feat was contributed by chorus manager Paul Hawkins and under the mastership of Stephane Potvin. The latter is artistic director of MUSIKAY, a small ensemble whose popularity is growing with each season, but the challenge of creating something tenfold in size boggles the mind. It would be egregious not to mention the challenge facing the podium – choral group AND an orchestra.

Bradley, Segal, MacMaster & Westman performing ‘Ode to Joy with the NAO & Chorus

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“N.A.O. – 30 years young” Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

The opening concert of season 30 was devoted to Mozart and two of his most celebrated compositions; the brief (20 minute) Haffner Symphony and his last opus – Requiem in D minor. After an introductory piece by S.I. Glick entitled ‘Psalm’; the NAO under apprentice conductor Roï Azoulay presented a cohesive opening two movements of the ‘Haffner. The National Academy Orchestra’s three decades of recruiting; selecting; training and presenting the top Canadian musical graduates as a performing ensemble is an extraordinary accomplishment and has been a positive opportunity for over a thousand young men and women.

Laengert; Bogdanowicz; Brott; Ramirez & Lichti performing ‘Requiem’

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“MESSIAH”, performed by Oakville’s MUSIKAY Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            “Messiah” is usually performed at Christmas but Musikay offered it on the final Saturday and today of April. Handel’s original performance was in Dublin just after Easter and that timing makes more sense with a libretto largely concerned with Christ’s passion and resurrection. It is rather discomforting at Christmas when the birth of Jesus is celebrated to sing of Him being despised, rejected etc. ‘Messiah’ normally is performed by a large choir but Musikay had a small 12-member chorus, four soloists and a nine-piece orchestra – each one of them talented, well trained professionals, capable of making a wonderful sound separately and together.

The MUSIKAY choir & musicians performing “MESSIAH”

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“VIMY” recalled by Bach Elgar & guests Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            On Sunday, the Bach Elgar Choir offered a truly monumental concert for the Centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. They were joined by soprano Jennifer Taverner, mezzo Mia Lennox, tenor Owen McCausland, baritone Geoffrey Sirett, plus the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
The RHLI is one of Canada’s oldest combat regiments, predating Confederation, and they fought in WW I at Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele and Vimy. Their Regimental Band wears the authentic scarlet uniforms of 1866. They opened the concert with Arthur Bliss’ Fanfare for a Dignified Occasion, a very suitable beginning.

Some HPO musicians & the RHLI band under Rehill’s  baton

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“The course of love (& music) DOES run smooth” for the H.P.O. 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

The Hamilton Philharmonic’s construal of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and Mendelssohn’s exquisitely memorable composition was a perfect blending of aural & visual experience. This effort was truly an O.A.R. “Top Ten” contender. Not only was the orchestra in faultless form, but the Hamilton Children’s Choir was impeccable and the students of Glendale Secondary were enchanting & delicious in their rendering of ‘Hermia & Lysander’; “Demetrius and Helena”; ‘Titania & Oberon’; plus, all the fairies and particularly the Pyramus/Thisbe interpreters. As usual it was the markedly delightful Robin Goodfellow (Puck) who steals the show. He (or she) is the character with whom I most identify!

Children’s Choir; H.P.O.; & Glendale’s fairies interpreting MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

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MUSIKAY; seems Renaissance music doesn’t attract 1

Review by Judith Caldwellreviewerjudy
            Love is in the air in February and Musikay offered a concert of 15th and Sixteenth century love songs in the form of madrigals and chansons. The setting of the concert was unusual in that a circle of approximately 30 chairs in the huge atrium of St. Thomas the Apostle Church surrounded the musicians who formed a smaller inner circle. Maestro Stephan Potvin explained that when this music was originally performed the singers would all be reading from one manuscript and so would be very close together so they could see and hear each other thus really helping the polyphonic singing.

Oakes; Ball; McCormack; Potvin; Stachow & Taylor; post-concert

Oakes; Ball; McCormack; Potvin; Stachow & Taylor; post-concert

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