What do you get when you take nine multi-talented musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds and give them a Purcell toy box to play in? You get the latest concert in the Confluence series; ‘Tis Nature’s Voice: Henry Purcell Reimagined. It’s an amazingly fun evening that completely blows the cobwebs off the often stuffy Toronto baroque music scene. I can’t do a number by number account because I completely lost track. I was having way too much fun.
The instrument line up included piano, string quartet, bass, guitar, assorted banjoes, woodwinds, bandoneon and a saw. Vocal styles ranged from a cappella, through Old Tyme, various jazz styles, South Indian classical and more. There was gender bending. Highlights included John Millard (I think) singing an Old Tyme Dido’s Lament accompanying himself on banjo. There was Suba Sankaran with a South Indian version of the Sorceress accompanied by Millard and Alex Samaras (again I think) singing falsetto as the witches. The ensemble sang a beautiful extract from the Funeral Music for Queen Mary. And there was so much more. It’s wonderful how Purcell’s great melodies and his choice of texts (was English ever more expressive than in the 17th century?) stand up to time and whatever we do to them!
Andrew Downing and Patricia O’Callaghan were responsible for the idea and the arrangements (or at least some of them). The other performers, led by the incorrigible Larry Beckwith, were Anna Atkinson, Drew Jurecka, John Millard, Gregory Oh, Alex Samaras and Suba Sankaran.
There’s another chance to catch the show at 8pm tonight at Heliconian Hall.