By Joe Wiebe, April 2013
The Balkan Babes have travelled a long way.
In performance, the Balkan Babes exhibit a calm serenity that underscores the eerily beautiful eastern European melodies and harmonies they sing. At their CD release concert in Duncan in early February, the music is mesmerizing, punctuated occasionally by trills or whoops. Some songs are soft and elegiac, while others are belted out with fervent ferocity. For an all-female choir, the range of voices is impressive. Some songs begin with one or two singers and then slowly grow in complexity until all nine women are singing. Even though they sing unaccompanied without a conductor, no one ever seems to miss a mark or wander off key.
By Lisa Szeker-Madden, February 2013
Nancy Argenta sings Henry Purcell at this year’s Pacific Baroque Festival.
This year’s Pacific Baroque Festival continues its tradition of presenting inventive and engaging programs by exploring the music of Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He was considered the greatest English composer of his age. And, as the centuries wore on without a successor, he simply became the greatest English composer, unequalled until the coming of Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.
By Joe Wiebe, January 2013
A diagnosis of MS may have slowed her down, but Sara Marreiros is back with fado nights, a new EP, and a new spirit.
Over tea at a quiet back table at Murchie’s, Sara Marreiros tells me, “Fado resonates deeply in my spirit. When I sing, it just takes me to my other home, which is Portugal. It’s like dropping into the earth there.”
Fado is a musical style that originated in the 1820s in Lisbon and has evolved into the quintessential Portuguese art form. Performed by a male or female singer who is traditionally accompanied by a musician playing Portuguese guitarra (a 12-string, pear-shaped instrument that resembles a mandolin), it demands extreme passion of its performers. Indeed, fado means “fate” in Portuguese, and many of the traditional songs are infused with a sense of melancholy and fatefulness. It is notoriously draining on the singer, both emotionally and physically.