Help Saige Carlson reach national finals

Carlson Concert

Come experience a delightful evening of song with the incredibly talented and lovely Saige Carlson. Saige will perform a selection of classical vocal pieces from the repertoire she is taking to The CFMTA National Convention Voice Competition finals in Halifax, Nova Scotia next month. Saige will be representing all of BC at this competition organized by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations.  Saige will be accompanied by the well known and renowned pianist, Mr. Dennis Nordlund.  This is a fund- raising event designed  to help Saige travel and compete at one of the highest levels of vocal excellence in our nation. This is the big stage and this is a young woman from our midst. Please come and support her and treat yourself to a wonderful talent.

If you are unable to attend, there will also be a recital at the Lakeside Resort on  Sunday June 23rd at 4:30 PM.  

Trio wows Oliver audience

by Sue Morhun

Three women in perfect and effortless harmony, all with glorious voices, all capable of covering a diverse repertoire and all equally capable of sharing undeniable musical abilities in a way that keeps an entire audience in their thrall. That was the gift the extraordinarily talented a cappella group, The Kallisto Trio, gave South Okanagan Concert Society goers last week. It was evening not have been missed!

From the first intriguing moment at the start when the light tinkle of a temple bell filled a darkened candlelight room until the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” faded away at the end, the audience was in awe. It was a very special evening. Not surprisingly, words fail to do justice. It was all about hearing and an evening filled with glorious sounds. The artistry, the presentation, the music choices, the Trio’s own obvious enjoyment with the music and each other filled the room. It often left us in awe. Many times as the last clear notes of a piece faded away, the audience was utterly silent before the room filled with audible sighs and then enthusiastic applause. Comments like “amazing and joyous voices”, “they were born to sing”,“what a treat!” “they sparkle, ” filled the room at the Oliver Alliance Church both at intermission and when the evening closed. No one wanted it to end.

Lead soprano Catherine Laub, soprano Karen Mang and mezzo soprano Fabiano Katz all bring extensive and formal training to their craft. They are writers, composers, conductors, teachers and soloists as well. What is not so easily acquired, however, is the passion, good humour, friendship and musical curiosity that underlines what they do so well. Their varied program demonstrated those rarer qualities, ones that result in true audience engagement. It was also inspirational.

One could go on forever about their technical capabilities, perfect balance and blend, excellent diction, controlled phrasing and more. I will focus rather on their ability to have the audience go beyond just hearing a well presented note but going one step further enabling us to “feel” that note and the story behind it. We heard the ice crack in “Frobisher Bay”. We shared the emotion underscoring “Love Is Not All”. We struggled to stay in our seats with the rollicking French Canadian “Reel a Bouche”. I’d be remiss if I also didn’t note the extra dimension provided by their instrumentation. It brought more delicious sounds into their vocal mix – singing bowls, temple bells, a child’s xylophone, a celtic drum, recorders, clarinet, guitar and, best of all, the kazoo. As kazoo players they are unparalleled! Equally interesting is that fully one half of their program featured Canadian content including premiering two touching pieces by Vancouver born cellist Stefan Hintersteininger.

One particular piece continues to resonate with this reviewer. Titled “Remember” with words by late Victoria poet Christina Rosetti and lyrics by Canadian Stephen Chatman, the song entreated the listener to “remember me”. Ladies of the Kallisto Trio, be assured we certainly will remember you. Thank you for truly lovely evening.

Opera student delights crowd with stories and song

Oliver’s Jenavieve Moore, an opera student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London entertained a standing-room only crowd at a fundraising concert on Sunday August 14. The concert was supported by Oliver Word of Life church and members of the Oliver Community Arts Council.

The lyric soprano performed a generous set of nine pieces, interspersed with some lively entertaining chat about her music studies. Arts council member Stephanie Salsnek acted as mistress of ceremonies, with Val Friesen working hard behind the scenes as producer.

Opening the concert unannounced, Jena sang the Bach-Gounod arrangement of Ave Maria, accompanied by her mother Dorothy Moore on piano. Her final number was to be the equally famous arrangement of the same text by Franz Schubert. Her singing voice was unaffected, warm, and surprisingly rich given her youth and light speaking voice.

Pastor Henry Wiebe, who has known the soprano from childhood, asked a series of questions about Jena’s musical beginnings. She shared some delightful anecdotes from her lessons in piano, flute and voice. She revealed that, far from finding music practice a chore as most children do, music was used as a reward for completing her schoolwork.

In an inspired bit of Friesen’s programming, Jena treated the audience to a behind-the-scenes look at the rehearsal process between soprano and accompanist. Oliver piano students Hanna and Paul Ellis took turns accompanying Jena (pictured). First was the delicate Si mes vers avaient des ailes (“If my verses had wings”) by Reynaldo Hahn followed by the dramatic Zueignung (“Dedication”) by Richard Strauss.

Jena explained how difficult it is to accompany solo voice. “Unlike most instruments, the human voice must breathe. And the singer has the job of conveying the text, as well as music. An accompanist is normally expected to have not only rehearsed the music, but also studied the text. They need to know the breath marks, the translation of the words, their context in the opera, the history of how that piece is performed by that voice.” While the Ellis siblings were not expected to have prepared the texts, it was clear from Moore’s reaction that she was impressed with their piano technique.

After each performance Jena chatted with the Ellises about how to better phrase the music to match her voice and style. At times, she needed a measure to slow down, or a pause inserted, or the volume changed, or a note delayed until she had sung a particular consonant. After listening in on this dialogue between vocalist and accompanist the audience was treated to sections of each song once more. Judging from the gasps, murmurs and nods in the crowd, the audience could well appreciate the improvements in performance when piano and voice collaborated.

“When the pianist understands my voice and the music, I feel incredibly supported, and my performance can improve dramatically,” Jena explained. It was a unique and insightful moment for the audience.

MC Stephanie Salsnek continued the interview asking questions about Jena’s gruelling class schedule at Guildhall. The audience was intrigued to learn that the instructional format focuses almost exclusively on performance, not study. Instructors prepare the students for the rigorous life as a professional artist by surprising them daily with changes to their class schedule, unannounced performances, sight readings, and other stress-inducing challenges. Students must be ready at a moment’s notice to sing on demand in a foreign language, give an interview, conduct a seminar on some operatic topic, and so on, all with a calm professional demeanour. The process is designed to weed out students who cannot handle the typical pressures of a performance artist.

The audience also had an opportunity to question Jena about her voice and education. The young student remained poised and eloquent, already displaying her Guildhall training. In response to a question about caring for her voice, Jena explained that excellent voice coaching in childhood prevented strain and injury. “Common sense” keeps her voice in shape: plenty of sleep, balanced diet, exercise, prompt medical care — and no vices!

She dispelled the stereotype about “fat opera singers standing and singing on stage” by sharing anecdotes about her stage movement classes. Being an opera singer is physically demanding. She must learn a variety of dance styles from stately Renaissance to hip hop. “Many operas are updated to modern settings, so we must be prepared for anything.” She is scheduled to learn stage fighting next year, including hand to hand combat and swordplay. With a shy smile she admitted that opera singers must be prepared to act with passion, not only fight scenes but mad scenes and love scenes as well.

Jena demonstrated the differences in interpretation between two composers who use the same text. Robert Schumann, using the text Du bist wie eine Blume (“You are like the flower”), created a passionate score that reflected a lover’s restrained desire. The ascetic Franz Liszt took the same text but gave it a sacred musical treatment, complete with bell-like chords. The resulting interpretation was a prayer for a young girl’s innocence.

President Penelope Johnson, on behalf of the Oliver Community Arts Council, presented a cheque for $1000 towards Jena’s second-year tuition. She encouraged others to meet that challenge, explaining that expenses continue to skyrocket after graduation. “Between gigs a struggling artist must still pay for rent in high-priced cities, travel, fancy frocks, and fees for voice coaching, accompanists, publicity agent and photographer,” explained Johnson, adding wryly, “and there’s more ‘between’ than ‘gig’”. Many talented hopefuls quit while waiting for their first big break.

To date, Jena has received sponsorship for half of her staggering $26,000 tuition. A free-will collection was held while Jena played John Denver’s Annie’s Song on flute, netting another $1250. In addition, some audience members picked up forms for monthly donations to Jena’s bank account.

Despite the heat of the afternoon, the audience was reluctant to leave, and more than willing to be treated to one final selection. As an encore, Moore displayed her multi-tasking abilities by accompanying herself on the piano while singing the lush Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) from the fairy-tale opera Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak.

The audience recognized Jenavieve’s talent with a standing ovation, and many lingered to speak with her at a reception in the church hall.

For more information about contributing to Jena’s tuition, contact the arts council at olivercac @gmail.com

Photo Credits: Val Friesen (encore Rusalka photo) and Heather Fink

Opera with Spice and Everything Nice

by Marion Boyd,
South Okanagan Concert Society

The South Okanagan Concert Society presents its first  concert of the 2010-2011 series:  “Opera, Spice and Everything Nice!” featuring Andi and Peter Alexander, on  Thursday, October 14th at the Frank Venables Auditorium, Oliver. The concert will be filled with wit, wisdom and fun as Andi and Peter show off a vast repertoire of operatic arias and duets. Expect selections from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Puccini’s La Boheme, Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Bizet’s Carmen, and Verdi’s La Traviata. Favourites from Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera will also be featured. They will be accompanied by Karen Lee-Morlang on piano.

Andi is a Mezzo Soprano with a vocal career that has expanded to take her into stage directing and producing. She founded MAGI in 2004 as an a cappella vocal trio and has “grown” it into a company now presenting a wide range of fully staged productions. She is in demand as a soloist in oratorio and recently performed Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Mass in C.

Peter, a baritone, was recently lauded in Opera Canada magazine: “He dominated the evening by exhibiting excellent vocal command eminently suited to the Baroque period” when he performed the title role in Pimpinone. Peter not only has a passion for opera stage performance, he is also a professional choral singer. He is currently a member of the twelve voice chamber ensemble Musica Intima, hailed by the Globe and Mail as “one of the best small choirs in all the land!”

Flex tickets are now on sale at Beyond Bliss in Oliver and at Imperial Office Pro in Osoyoos. A four admission pass costs only $60. The four admissions are entirely flexible and can be used together or in combination. This is particularly attractive to snowbirds who may be away for some performances. Single tickets are available for $20. Young people 17 and under are welcome to attend the concerts for free. All concerts start at 8 pm. The venue is wheelchair accessible and those requiring transportation in the Oliver/Osoyoos area can call Maureen at 250 495 7978 to make arrangments to be picked up.

The South Okanagan Concert Society is grateful to our sponsors who are continuing their support despite difficult economic times. The B.C. Arts Council, Music Fest Vancouver, Windsor Plywood Spectacular Music B.C. and the Oliver Community Arts Council provide the backbone of our support. Dwight and Amy Brown at the Adobe Rose B&B offer Okanagan hospitality to the musicians. Fortis BC, the Burrowing Owl Winery, Interior Savings OK Falls, the Kiwanis Club of Oliver and Maria Gonzales-Richer, denturist, provide ongoing support that makes it possible for world class music to come to our community. We cannot thank them enough.

Soprano Jenavieve Moore performs

Jenevieve Moore, soprano, will perform a recital Wednesday July 14th at 7:30 pm at First Baptist Church 1498 Government St., Penticton. Roslyn Frantz will accompany her on piano and Antonia Mahon on flute.

Jena grew up in Oliver and by 12 years of age she was already winning local and provincial music competitions. Sue Gay was one of her early teachers. She sang with the Oliver Yuletide Singers and the Sage Valley Voices and performed with her brothers for a silent auction of the Oliver Arts Council. She got her musical start here.

Recently Jena’s career has taken flight! She has been accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, directly into year three of their B.Mus. (Hons.) Voice Performance degree. She was accepted on the spot at her audition in New York City last February which is a very rare achievement. Guildhall is one of the top music schools in the world.

This is Jena’s big opportunity to join other famous alumni including Jacqueline du Pre and move onto the world stage. She enjoyed support from the Oliver Community Arts Council when she was growing up. Now we can support her by attending her recital and enjoying an evening of amazing vocal music. Admission is by donation and proceeds will help with expenses in London. Her program includes works by Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, and Mozart. This is your chance to hear a rising star!!

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