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Vancouver Chamber Choir
Rhythms of Rio

Date: 11 August 2003 at 5.00pm
: St. Andrew’s - Wesley Church

Reviewer: John Jane


Heart of Brazil



Conductor: Jon Washburn
Featured Performers: Celso Machado - guitar, Ed Henderson - guitar, Miles Black - Piano, Jodi Prosnick - bass and Phil Belanger - percussion.

The twenty member strong Vancouver Chamber Choir performed in front of an enthusiastic festival crowd at the beautiful greystone St. Andrew’s - Wesley Church. With accompaniment from an excellent group of local musicians, including Brazilian native Celso Machado, the choir gave this audience a Summer flavoured performance with an eclectic programme of a dozen songs and choral excerpts connected by their origin (or at least the mood) of Brazil.

The afternoon programme got under way with a zesty interpretation of the late Ary Barroso’s well-known Aquarela do Brasil, sung in Portuguese. Better known internationally as just “Brazil”, Barroso supposedly wrote the song in 1940 for his muse Carmen Miranda.

Next, following a jocose introduction by Maestro Jon Washburn, the singers tackled a lively folk song, Ela diz que tem, (She says she has...) which featured Celso Machado on guitar and South American choir member Fabiana Katz in her first of three stellar solo performances.

The highlight came at the midpoint, a pair of bossa nova tunes arranged by Ed Henderson with deference to the original composers. The first was an English version of the Antonio Carlos Jobim timeless favorite One Note Samba, which Sergio Mendes popularized with his 1966 recording. Hermeto Paschoal's lyric-less Bébe followed, featuring Miles Black’s perfectly underscored piano.

Celso Machado
Celso Machado
Later in the afternoon, the choir and ensemble offered a fine rendition of another of Jobim’s popular tunes, No More Blues. The composer’s seminal bossa nova, Girl from Ipanema was disappointedly missing from the programme.

The musicians rounded out a pleasant afternoon of music, when they remained for an encore with a reprise of the up-tempo opening song, Brazil.

A selection of music that focused so broadly on Brazil could have included at least one work from the ground-breaking composer Egberto Gismonti. Nevertheless, the Vancouver Chamber choir did a great job of capturing not only the diversified sounds of Brazil, but their culture and history as well.

This concert was an exciting precursor to the Choir’s forthcoming season, beginning next month at Ryerson United Church.


© 2003, John Jane