Review by Danny Gaisin
Distance & time constraints have kept this particular OAR critic from some concerts by the Oakville Chamber Orchestra; the hiatus is over as of last evening’s performance featuring the music of 17th-20th century Britain. From the individual instruments rehearsing pre-downbeat, this OCO is a musical force to be appreciated. In true chamber mode the program was restricted to the strings, including theorbo!
The opening work was Elgar’s ‘introduction & allegro, which like Beethoven’s 6th possesses an intrinsic delightfully-melodious hypnotic. More…
Review by Kim Wessel
The audience was waiting with anticipation and everyone was filled with excitement waiting for the show to start. Guest conductor Martin MacDonald came out and started us off with “The Irish Washerwoman” by Anderson. I have to say that Martin was quite the jokester in his comments tonight. He was telling us how he isn’t Irish and he hopes that just because he is a Scotsman that they don’t drag him off the stage. And, just so that everyone is aware, one concert (not tonight) he actually conducted while wearing a kilt, and he let us all know that they are really warm, not drafty. Unlike a true Scotsman, he wore bicycle shorts underneath.
Conductor McDonald & critic Kim Wessel
Review by Danny Gaisin (1936)
One of Canada’s oldest choral groups; this country’s oldest Reform Synagogue, and the Nation’s perhaps oldestmentally teen-aged music critic united for a gala evening of light opera. Held at Hamilton’s Anshe Shalom Synagogue (1853); the Bach Elgar Choir (1905) enlisted the amazingly lyrical voices of soprano Charlene Santoni; Keith Klassen – tenor; and baritone Alexander Dobson. Accompanied by pianist Krista Rhodes who has also been a contributor to this paper; the programme featured arias from both light & tragic opera, as well as operetta works by Herbert; Strauss Jr.; Sullivan and Smetana. More…
Review by Danny Gaisin
The third candidate aspiring to the podium of the Mississauga Symphony is Misha Roháč; a Torontonian conductor whose background is Czechoslovakian. Understandably, the program featured two works by Smetana; three dances from his ‘Bartered Bride’, and the Sarka from Ma Vlast. This latter work translates as My Fatherland and is an excerpt from his Moldau suite. Another excerpt from Moldau is the melody for ‘Hatikvah’; Israel’s National Anthem which means ‘The Hope’. Both works carry a strong emotional yet musical theme.
Roháč’s style is somewhat posturizing; his address to the audience repetitious and non-educational, but his control of the orchestra is obvious. There were some discernible technical blunders in the first two works, but not noticeable for the remainder of the concert. The maestro is focused and almost pedantic in exhorting his version and arrangement from his musicians. More…
Review by Judith Caldwell
The Oakville Ensemble under the direction of artistic director Stephane Potvin presented a concert of songs about love entitled “Heart to Heart” at St. John’s Church in Oakville. An unfortunately sparse audience heard this group of professional singers expertly render these songs à Capella. The eight males & six females of the group have voices which blend beautifully and they enunciate texts clearly.
Maestro Potvin, in his introduction, said the songs presented were like a box of chocolates for the audience—many as expected with a few surprises in store. Most of the works came from the 16th and 17th centuries with two later works. The evening began with “Venite populi terrae” a beautiful blending of complicated harmony in which the sopranos had exceptional clarity. More…
Review by Judith Caldwell
Last night at St. John’s United Church in Oakville we were treated to Messiah sung by a choir of 16 voices and an orchestra of 9 players comprising the Oakville Ensemble. Being used to hearing Messiah sung by large choirs with full orchestras I expected this to be Messiah lite, instead it was Messiah clear. The singers were all professionals who enunciated beautifully and the small size of the choir meant that the story line came through very clearly, yet were capable of producing volume when required.
Director Stephane Potvin wrote of the conflicting emotions he hears in Messiah—despair, hope, sadness, rage, fear, love, and passion. His interpretation explores all these emotions and gives a performance of both darkness and light. The first part, which deals with the birth and ministry of Christ, is fairly light and hopeful. This is followed by the much darker second part – the derision, flogging and crucifixion. We hear anger and fury contrasted with a light reading of ‘All We Like Sheep’ then back to darkness with a stunning rendition of ‘He Trusted in God’. The second section ended with a rousing ‘Hallelujah’ chorus which the audience loved.
The final section is the resurrection of Christ and begins with the hauntingly beautiful ‘I Know My Redeemer Liveth’; includes ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’; and ends with the joyous ‘Worthy is The Lamb’ and the wonderfully grandiose ‘Amen’.
The soloists – soprano Catherine D’Addario; Erika Bailey- alto; the tenor voice of Michael P.Taylor,; and Bob Knight- bass; all have lovely, well-trained voices that are certainly suited to baroque music. Instead of using a piano as so often happens, the orchestra utilized Lynne Honsberger on Continuo which gave a genuine baroque sound to the score. This was a very enjoyable evening of very clear Messiah.
Oakville Ensemble’s next concert is geared to St. Valentine’s Day and can be heard at St. John’s United Church, 262 Randall Street, on Saturday February 11tth, 2012 at 7.30pm and on Sunday February 12th, 2012 at 3pm at Mary Mother of God, 2745 North Ridge Trail. Both venues are located in Oakville.