JOSÉE-LORD performs a pitch-perfect powerhouse performance
crowd was enormous; everyone was waiting in anticipation to
hear Haitian-born diva, Marie-Josée Lord step onto Centre
Stage, and at 4:05 pm, on August 3rd, that’s what happened.
You could feel the excitement and happiness
from the audience. She is adored, and no wonder: she is funny,
talkative and completely at ease with the endless army of eyes
staring out at her, open for the pleasure to come most notably
in stunning stage presence, but above all -- her extraordinary
opening was a tease, as the speakers piped out a little taped
song, sung by a girl interspersed with Marie-Josée speaking
poetically about gardens, dreams and moving to Quebec.
titled the concert, Bouillon, and indeed it was a 'marmite'
melting pot of all types of goodies -- a hot concert offering
a variety of tasteful singing styles. She revealed that she
prefers to be called a lyric singer -- to perform songs that
appeal to le grand publique. Opera can be restrictive
and diminish the wide appeal. Whatever
she, sang, she was so expressive, emotional and absolutely brilliant.
Bravos echoed, traveling to every brook, flower bed and arboretum
area of the Botanical Gardens.
extremely high register is rich and stunning. Likewise, her
low resonate power as well, and no matter whether she sang opera
or musical numbers, Marie-Josée owned the crowd. Our
hearts were enthralled by her lyric -– near-impossible
vocal range. Her opera choices included “L’Amour”
from Carmen;“E’Strano” from Histoire
de la Dame aux Camélias; and from the filmThe
Fifth Element,“La Diva.” Wow!
she beautifully gave us “Somewhere” from West
Side Story (I got goosies), and when she sang “I
Feel Pretty”, I was enchanted; she found so many alluring
and adorable ways to sing the refrain. Her “Summertime”
was gorgeous. I almost cried when she sang “Je suis malade”
by Serge Lama. What passion she has! What control! Gilles Vignault’s,
“Je vous entends” was magically delivered –
her first song in the program. Her fabulous pianist from Paris
barely made it in on time, and the violinist from Montreal was
smiling and connecting with us all. These two consummate musicians
were all too willing to give 'their Lord' what she needed, and
they did so with charm and polish. What a concert!
more intimate and restfully low key was the concert that took
place in The Flowery Brook Gardens. This lovely concert featured
the Corriveau sisters with Isabeau on harp and Mélissande
on viola da gamba, cello (she plays on a 18th century one) and
program featured Scottish and Irish music from various centuries.
Medieval pieces by Guillaume de Machaut and a liturgical-style
lauda took us into the 13th-century. They were so lovely. The
16th-century piece, “Are you Sleeping Maggie" was
beautiful, and gave us a window into Italian baroque cello and
harp beauty. Plaintive pieces and spritely ones offered a delightful
mix for the ear. We were wholly engaged in the performance of
these two gifted musicians.
FLOWERING OF MUSIC
into the Lesley Hancock Garden to hear live traditional Japanese
music performed by
the group Ensemble Matsu. The instruments were shakuhachi (flutes),
Taiko (percussion), shamisen
and the koto -- two of them. Their strings set the soft peaceful
tone of the music they played: one of which was Kokiriko, a
1,200-year-old song. The dancer also sang a 450-year-old song
as she danced around and tapped her drum that was tied to her.
The music was gentle and peaceful. (Rob: Put photos here of
Japanese group. You have several photos in 2 email sendings;
choose what you like)
this concert, my attention turned to a tall lady on stilts costumed
as Little Red Riding Hood; her arm was inside the big hand puppet
of a wolf. It was amusing. She stood at the back of us. I thought
this character on stilts would be part of the puppet show advertised
at various times of the day -- the last show being at 3:00 pm
-- the one I had slated in my schedule to see.
In fact, there were no puppets on stilts show at 3:00 pm, or
any before that time. It was strange, as a crowd with adults
and kids had gathered to wait for these wondrous creatures to
appear. We were all asking each other if we were in the right
garden, as there was no sign of any marionette, puppet or facsimile.
Indeed the Japanese group played again. They had several performances
that day. None of us could track down the event advertised as
“Julie Desrosiers puppets (note the plural in ‘puppets’)
on stilts.” Then I realized that lone fun puppet wolf
with the costumed lady strolling in and around the garden must
have been Ms. Desrosiers. Had she lost her mates or was there
no show at all? I suspect the latter. Still, it was nice to
hear the Japanese music again, but some of the kids were disappointed.
on my list was the opera duo that was going to perform in the
Flowery Brook Garden. On my way there, I was approached by a
man by the name of Philippe Alaire. He asked us if we were heading
toward the opera duo concert in the Flowery Brook Garden. Bingo!
He was wonderful. He directed us exactly to where the concert
spot was -- though we had already nailed the location of this
garden. That kind of assistance is great. I also noticed that
on this day some signs and placards directing people to the
various shows had been set up. More of that please.
a fabulous concert this was! This opera ensemble, called Opéra
Immédiat, featured two fabulous singers: tenor Eric Thiriault
and soprano Sophie De Cruz. Carl Mathieu Neher accompanied them
on keyboard. Excerpts from lovely operas were sung: La Traviata,
la Bohème, Le Pays du Sourire and L’Eliser d’Amore.
Their voices were enchanting. Mr. Thiriault has great personality
and such a powerfully rich voice. Both showed incredible volume,
strength and breath control. Considering there were no microphones,
and the wind presented yet another challenge, their voices carried
more singing and piano playing occurred in the Rose Garden.
This concert was another duo that paired pianist, Jocelyne Tremblay
with singer Pierrot Fournier. He presented a wonderful medley
of songs by Belgian composer/singer Jacques Brel. He seemed
to be Brel himself. He even looks like him. He animated each
song with great liveliness and transported us to the beaches,
parks, people of Paris and Marseilles, His singing of “Mathilde”
was astonishing, and his own original song, titled “Béatrice,”
was touching. It was a tribute to his mother who “now
flies with angels.” His voice was similar to Brel’s
which made it a treat to hear and watch. Both artists came all
the way from Trois-Rivières to perform. Lucky for us.
MUSIC BLOSSOMS MAGNIFICENTLY IN THE CRAB APPLE GARDEN
mesmerizing sounds of Constantinople’s four musicians
playing their exotic instruments in front of a modest but appreciative
crowd transformed the Montreal cozy area of crab apple trees
into another world rich in melodic flavours and poetic yearnings
born in countries far away, including Turkey and Iran. This
internationally acclaimed group performed four separate concerts
– each 25 minutes in length. They brought a mix of East
Orient music that draws on the quarter-tone rich Arabic scale.
the third and fourth concert sets and heard the two original
compositions from two of the musicians. The leader of the group,
Kiya Tobassian, played the Persian setar – one with four
strings and later in the third set one with five strings.
first piece, titled “Lumière” (an actual
Persian poem) was written by Kaya who was inspired by this lovely
poem. The piece conjured up heartfelt moods that seemed to reflect
the burden within the heart and that on the shoulders of a man
moved into lighter feelings of life’s joy. It was exotic,
haunting and magical in effect. He also sang in parts with reverence
and commitment. This piece merged right into the composition
by Turkish musician Didem Basar. Her piece was called “Devr-i-Raksan”
(Raksan refers to the tempo, and the key was Hicaz – the
Arabic classic set of notes that ring like their distinct scale.
Didem Basar plays the kanum expertly – just as
all the groups artists’ are masters of their instruments.
What a joy it was to hear her play with Kiya and as tambour
musician Pooria Pournazeri also performed along with viola de
gamba player, Pierre-Yves Martel, we were all impressed and
inspired. Subtlety and expressive passion -- always restrained
-- define all these musicians’ approach. Since both pieces
included all four brilliant musicians, this concert was wonderful
to watch and hear. Wonderful rhythms and technical feats excited
us all as melodies traveled into moods that offered thematic
repetition within rich contrasting developments.
third concert featured two 17th-century compositions by Marin
Marias who composed for France’s Versailles Court, and
Dimitrius Cantemir, a Moldavian who lived in Turkey and composed
for that country’s court. What intriguing evocative music
that came from each distinct piece.
a truthful but disappointing note, I must comment that Constantinople
deserved to have a much bigger crowd of listeners, but June
1st was the Tour de “L’Ile for cyclists; every street
was blocked off, including Pie-1X (the street for the site).
It was almost impossible to reach the Botanical Gardens. The
car was parked over 45 minutes away on foot, and sadly, instructions
upon arrival at the front desk as to how to get to the Pommetiers
-- the crab apple garden were incredibly off. We were told it
was right beside the lilac garden, and indeed, it was not right
near it. In fact, it was by the shade tree garden. In fact,
people were wandering around trying to find les Pommetiers –
the garden where Constantinople was playing. No proper map guiding
us to the garden was given and furthermore, I was told the second
concert started at 1:30. In fact; it started at 1:00. Why aren’t
there a few staffers standing near the gardens where concerts
and events take place to guide us. To add to this frustration
was the lack of seats supplied. People had to sit on the grass,
as there were only a handful of lounge chairs to sit on. Still,
once we arrived there (thanks to a small sign inside a nook
of another garden) and the concert started, I felt relaxed and
happy we found Constantinople.
© Ann Lozyk
DUBEAU & LA PIETÀ
On May 18th, the Garden series of summer-long events opened
up with one of Canada’s most internationally renowned
Dubeau. But of course, she was not alone,
for she performs with her gifted ensemble La Pietà –
her 'equally gifted half' – as one might say. The opening
late afternoon concert featured eight members who magnificently
and joyously played along with
their highly decorated chef en commande/director. She has enjoyed
the prestigious title of Order of Canada since 1996 and in 2012
rose in rank to become Officer. To date she has recorded 38
wondrous outdoor concert was held on Centre Stage; an audience
of hundreds were treated to a highly appealing program of music
whose first piece set the energetic exciting tone for the overall
one-hour concert. It was Saint Saëns’ Danse Macabre.
Technically challenging, the ensemble dashed it off with high
exuberance. How exciting!
more into the 20th-century, the program presented a stunning
musical collage from film scores, including Dr. Zhivago,
The Mission, Scent of a Woman, Fiddler on the Roof, Cinema Paradiso,
Romeo and Juliet, Splinter Cell Conviction and The
Titanic. It was obvious from the passion displayed in the
performance that the pieces strike a rich emotion-filled chord
for Ms. Dubeau.
chose musical moments which speak to me -- music from films
that particularly affect me -- great music which evokes images.”
the interpretation, the ensemble masterfully brought us to heights
of rapture and sorrow along with moments of great humour, warmth
and reflection. One
poignantly personal moment occurred when Ms. Dubeau spoke to
the audience about her cancer diagnosis last year and the outpouring
of letters she received. Le Blanc -- her latest album
-- to be released in October 2014, expresses all the deep feelings
she had from her illness and the massive support given. She
explained that the album title comes from the colour white which
for her symbolizes healing, serenity, purity and light which
in turn symbolizes hope. The ensemble performed two sublimely
moving pieces from the album Mario, composed by François
Dompierre, and The Rain by Japanese composer, Joe Hisaishi.
The subtle nuance and extraordinary expression the artists
musically shared with us magically transported everyone into
a world of many moods. Solitude, sorrow, beauty and resilience
– this is the world of drama and calm – the world
Angèle Dubeau & la Pietà brought to us in
this unforgettable concert.
other intimate concerts preceding this outstanding concert took
place in both the Alpine Garden and the Lilac Garden. Inside
the Alpine area, birdsong was complimented with the lovely voices
of the unique choir, Voces Boreales. Ressurecting Latin language
hymns of solemnity, the singers’ harmony was magisterial
and texturally transcendent. Reverent and serene, the performance
was truly inspiring. The overall effect suited the intimate
surroundings of this cozy yet noble garden.
mood changed with the amusing and highly energetic Québécois
group, BarbuZébelle. Accordian, guitar, fiddle and vocal
brought to life the traditional music of Quebec, Scotland, Ireland
and England. Acadian flavours enlivened the music which also
backed-up the featured story-teller of this unique group, Benoit
'Bison' Davidson. He related his two original stories in the
title piece, Création, along with Ciel Bas
-- a First Nation’s story. This story-telling ensemble
is fun and talented.
floral wonders, the artists and the splendidly sunny day made
the first concert for the Arts Put on a Show series an extraordinary
experience. My five senses were satisfied to the max.
2 & 3 © Luc
Photos 1,4 & 5 © Ann