Dynamic Montréal Vocal Quartet Delivers High Octane Evening

Review by Jim Leonard

NOCCA’s gala concert evening on October 27, 2018 began with the stunning violin solos of 13 year old child prodigy Marcus Coetzee. Marcus began playing the violin at age 4! A student of Bev Martens since 2014, Marcus plays in the Okanagan Youth Symphony. He was ably accompanied by local concert pianist Alex MacArthur. Apparently he and Marcus only rehearsed together for 1 hour! Marcus played two selections; the titles of which I obtained from Alex. The first was Souvenir de Saraste by William Potstock (1872-1948) and Czardas by Vittorio Monti (1868-1922) They were both brilliantly played with flawless technique and intonation.

Now to the main event: let me start by saying that the U.K. has the “King’s Singers” but we have “Quartom”- a men’s vocal quartet formed in Montréal in 2008. The name Quartom comes from the French “quatuor d’hommes” meaning men’s vocal quartet. Their program was sung a cappella, without any pitch device. At least one member with perfect pitch was giving the others the tonality which helped the flow of the program. It consisted of mostly
familiar opera and vocal solo music arranged by the members. One exception was an arrangement by Davis, Dixon and Williams of “Duke of Earl”- written and performed by Gene Chandler in 1961.The other was “Mrs. Robinson” (from the movie “The Graduate”) by Simon and Garfunkel. Both selections, like many of the others, were performed with hilarious choreography and/or hand gestures and props.

Other highlights were: an improvised wedding scene between the bass and one of the baritones; complete with bridal bouquet and veil; while the quartet sang Wagner’s wedding processional in German; and Georg (That’s right-no e in German!) Friederich Handel’s “Laschia ch’io pianga” from his opera “Rinaldo.” The group used their incredible control to perform this piece in partial sotto voce (“shadow voice”) to great effect.

They ended the evening with an encore: a short witty song about American youth coming to Quebec to party, because of the lower drinking age there. That was the proverbial “cherry on top of the sundae!” The next concert will be Trio D’Argento on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm. Flute, clarinet, and piano. More info at nocca.ca.