Stile Antico: Not at all of the Phlegmish School

I had another sickening love-in visit from yet another early music ensemble thanks to Early-Music Vancouver.

Stile Antico is a group of twelve singers who are actually thirteen singers from the UK who specialize in pre-Bach choral music. We’re told they’re supposed to be young and if you’re old, they probably are.

To the four or five of us in the audience tonight who didn’t qualify as the latter, all we needed to be told was to shut up, turn off our cell-phones (Which we did), and listen.  Granted, the choir is on an ambitious tour and still suffering from jet-lag so there was a little throatiness in the first half but it was the sort of thing that would only bother you if you’re the sort of person that lives to be bothered by such things and write about them in your pathetic blog that nobody reads anyway.

Who could be bothered by the fabulous Ashby sisters floating about the stage with narry a wobble or the magnificient sound of the fabulous Oliver “The-Bass-That-Could-Be-A-Bass-Section” Hunt? I should emphasize that they really did a good job in stacking the sopranos in their deck the way they did. If you want amazing blend in your treble voices, you’re going to have to breed them. Sorry.

You can make all sorts of seemingly rushed and ill-informed judgements about a choir by it’s unison and you’d be quite right to do so. Hearing eight or more people sing your line can be a bit of a head-game when you’re trying to be precise and it takes a good musician to be confident and sing without breaking ensemble: Was that a hair of a wobble? Was it me? Was it Jim? No wait… was it a wobble at all?

If you feel that singing early music exposes you, then singing a unison chant line to open a concert should make you feel like streaking to work is a modest alternative. ‘Twas a scrumptious blend, and a diction that didn’t make you feel like we were supposed to be eating the text instead of listening to it.

I’ll see them again.

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