Freshwater Trio
Two members of Borealis String Quartet

BMO World at the Garden: Sounds of Australia
Sunday, 15 August, 2010 @ 7:00pm • VanDusen Botanical Garden

Performers William Barton didgeridoo, The Idea of North: Andrew Piper bass & vocal percussion, Nick Begbie tenor, Naomi Crellin alto, Sally Cameron soprano.

Reviewer Melanie Ewan

The Sounds of Australia concert was a lovely event, and an appropriate ending to the Vancouver MusicFest. The festival’s promise to provide extraordinary music from around the world was dutifully kept as the garden filled with the sounds of the didgeridoo and a cappella jazz.

The opening performer was William Barton, singer/songwriter/guitarist and professional didgeridoo player. This latter talent was clearly the most unique, as it is an iconic Australian instrument, and creates such an interesting and powerful sound.

During his set, Barton combined all of his musical talents in some truly impressive ways. He included a fantastic didgeridoo solo, a song called Didgeridoo Rap, which was made complete by his hand motions of a kangaroo doing the moonwalk, and an intriguing traditional song, The Journey, which he wrote at 15 years old. He ended his set with a true touch of Australia, a song called My Island Home which he claims is the unofficial Australian anthem.

The Idea of North, an a cappella jazz quartet, was the key performance of the night however, and were they ever fantastic. I had forgotten how much I love this genre of music until the first notes sprang from the singer’s lips. The group hails from Australia, though their name was inspired by the Canadian Glenn Gould radio show, and consists of a soprano, alto, tenor and bass. They weave stories through harmony, scat singing, and solos, and seem to be able to transform their voices in to any instrument they desire.

The group sang a nice combination of songs both old and new, and interacted fantastically with the audience. Their first set included a rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, in which they played the strings with their vocal chords, and The Truth, which was inspired by a poem written by an Australian columnist.

The second set began with the crowd pleasing Man in the Mirror, followed by a swing tune, which was conducted by my own high school jazz choir teacher, Frances Roberts. William Barton joined the group for a “world premier” of Fragile; which was a unique and beautiful song, and they finished the night with the upbeat and fitting 'Singing a cappella' (song title).

Both Barton and The Idea of North were received well by the audience; the performers were not only talented, but humorous, laid back, and completely charming. My only complaint was that the music ended.

© 2010 Melanie Ewan