March 2006

March 22, 2006Hugh's RoomToronto
Sharing One Vision, One Voice
by Andy Frank with photos by Roger Humbert

“If you begin with something as pure as the voice, the expression of one's soul, and let the voice be inspired by a multitude of cultural influences, telling the story of our world, a natural evolution occurs, boundaries disappear and people come together, sharing one vision, one voice.”

So reads the cover of the insert found in Madrigaïa’s second CD, Pléiades, and on Wednesday night, six lovely young Franco-Manitoban women presented their case on the Hugh’s Room stage. Seated in a semi-circle were Andrina Turenne, Marie-Claude McDonald, Ariane Jean, Annick Brémeault, Brigitte Sabourin and Sarah Dugas. Some of the women were clutching a rather impressive, tall percussion stick in one hand, and a rhythm stick in the other. The six voices were supported by a solitary drummer and percussionist (Christian Dugas).

“If you begin with something as pure as the voice”. Pure, indeed. As the show progressed through various musical avenues stretching from Gospel to Rap, Tango to Folk, unison to counterpoint to six-part harmonies, Madrigaïa’s voices were pristine. Each of the singers led various selections throughout the evening, and try as I might, I could not settle on a favourite — it was as though their collective voices had indeed evolved into one voice, and the solos had become merely delightful fractions of the whole. The acapella harmonies were so lovely, you would have to be dead not to be moved by them.

“…let the voice be inspired by a multitude of cultural influences…” What an artistic blessing it is to be raised in a bilingual patch of this great country, especially a pocket like the Franco-Manitoban community. With the tongue already used to wrapping itself around two very different languages, it appears to be less of a challenge to ask it to sing foreign words than it might be for a unilingual Canadian.

Madrigaïa interprets — or is influenced by — music from Brazil, Argentina, Israël (Hebrew and Yiddish), Bulgaria, Poland, India, France, and the occasional blend of these cultures. I was told that the group sometimes hires professional linguistic specialists when tackling a song from a language that is new to them, not only to be phonetically-correct, but also to emotionally understand the meaning of the music, in an effort to tell “the story of our world”.

The sets were short and well rehearsed. The various musical energies were well paced. The singers were disarmingly, almost unintentionally charismatic, and while their choreography could use some polish, it worked, especially given the limitations of the cozy Hugh’s Room stage. Madrigaïa is a lovely Manitoban gift to the rest of Canada, and a delightful ambassador for all, helping to make “boundaries disappear and people come together”.

Annick Brémeault

Ariane Jean

(left to right) Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Marie-Claude McDonald, Annick Brémeault, Brigitte Sabourin and Sarah Dugas
We welcome your comments and feedback
Andy Frank
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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