Confluence Concerts’ show last night at Heliconian Hall was titled A Woman’s Voice. It was, after a fashion, a CD release concert in two halves. The first half featured music by Alice Ping Yee Ho from the album A Woman’s Voice and featuring the same performers; Vania Chan, Katy Clark, Alex Hetherington, Maeve Palmer and Jialiang Zhu. I’ve already reviewed the album and I don’t think last night changed my opinion much so I’ll not do a detailed rundown. What I can say is that last night it was mostly opera excerpts; Lesson of Da Ji, Chinatown, The Imp of the Perverse, and a live concert gave an opportunity for a bit of staging which was definitely an enhancement, especially in The Imp of the Perverse scene. “Café Chit Chat” and “Black” also benefitted from visual interaction between the singers. I like the CD a lot. Getting a chance to see some of the music live was great.
The second half was mostly made up of David Braid and Patricia O’Callaghan’s Dark Butterflies song cycle. Basically here David has reworked folk tunes from a variety of sources to fit new words by Patricia, in a range of languages. There are Irish, Armenian, Turkic, Swedish and Californian musical roots with texts in English, Irish, Swedish and a “constructed language”. It’s pretty varied but all built around Patricia’s particular vocal talents so it’s by turns jazzy, soulful and super playful. Accompaniment was by piano trio with Annilee Patipanatakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello and David Braid followed by James Parker on piano.
It’s an interesting set of songs and I particularly liked “Dark Butterfly” which has some of the DNA of “My Laggan Love” and Vivier’s “Lonely Child” in it, though buried pretty deep. “Acherontia” was fun too. It’s a wildly up tempo number based on the legend of the Skeleton Woman and it’s very funny and was performed with great panache. So we come to the “CD” part. It seems the plan is to release tracks one at a time as singles and ljkely only on streaming services. Those of you who use such technologies will know what to look for.
Matters finished up with Ryan Davis and his viola joining Patricia, Annilee, Roman and James for versions of Nick Drake’s “Riverman” and Sarah Harmer’s “Lodestar. And so ended another eclectic and very enjoyable Confluence Concert. It’s being reprised tonight at Heliconian at 7.30pm and it was filmed so I expect it to show up on Youtube at some point.