Spirituality, music, art, language

Good to be in Quebec City in September, the week of the Sacred Music Festival. International des Musiques Sacrées de Québec. Among the free events I attended, the first and perhaps my favourite took place at Musée national des Beaux-Arts, Je te Salue Marie. Manon Lefrançois, the vivacious soprano (accompanied by Karina Laliberté on violon and Marine-Hélène Bastien on piano) sang more versions of the Ave Maria than I knew existed, and the spirited Magnificat, so connu to the mostly femme audience that people sang along. The skylights above the grand hall of the Musée, les Plaines beyond the windows, the familiar scuplpture of a giant incomplete circle outside, but, from where I sat, only a partial view, so that it appeared a commas, as if to add, there is also this.
Next day, at the Musée de la Civilisation de Québec, the Choeur Vallon presented a brief but well chosen tour of four centuries of sacred music with great enthisasm, glittery silver clefs on their black shirts and dresses. The sole musical event I paid for, the Harlem Gospel Choir, at the enormous Elgise St. Roch, disappointed. Why? Expectations? I assumed I would leave in high spirits, and yet... while people were clapping and waving their hands, it seemed a bit contrived. The sound was mixed poorly so the voices didn't soar but rather fought with the keyboardist until the singers left the microphones. Or maybe it was that I sat ten rows back, next to a friendly couple who stood and clapped as I did.I talked about this on artchat podcast. For the night before, when I attended the opening concert of the OSQ, with its handsome new conductor Fabien Gabel, my late decision to attend meant the best cheap seat I could get was in row B. Yet, even though the sound may have been more evenly distributed to those sitting further back, it was thrilling to watch my favourite violinist James Ehnes play the Braham's violin concerto, to be able to see him exchange glances with Gabel, to note that Gabel, unlike the previous chef d'orchestre Yoam Talmi, did not seem to need to mop his brow with handkerchiefs set out on the stand so that one could determine the intensity of the performance by the number of hankerchiefs he used. Gabel appeared to be having some trouble with his vest buttons, but was otherwise in precise control for all, but especially the wonderfully orchestrated, Le Chevalier à La Rose, by Strauss. Music can be sacred whether or not it is so named, and I walked home feeling as elated as I thought I would après Harlem Gospel. In final event I attended, the painter Pierre Lussier, whose work is exhibted at both the Grand Théâtre and Espace Hypérion, talked about how he had been inspired by the silence that preceded the voice of the counter tenor Daniel Taylor. The relationship entre silence and music, possibly the pause before the action of painting. Lussier brings wonderful light to his scenes. They are in that way a reflection of his Renaissance influences, and while some might call him representationalist, he says that he expresses how his soul responds to nature. An eloquent talk by a man who seems humble as well as fully engaged. Enfin, à za-zen, les infleunces spirituelles sont venu à moi in trois langes, français, sanskrit, japonais. A week to listen, see, think, enjoy. This has been a good fesitval