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December 16 & 17
“To hear Ensemble Laude is to be spirited away,” an audience member is reported to have remarked about this Victoria women’s choir, which specializes in performances that can, at turns, evoke things otherworldly. Their winter concert, “Spellbound,” features selections from northern Europe, commissions from Canadian composers, and a bit of the medieval repertoire that was the original inspiration for the group’s formation in 1998 by director Elizabeth MacIsaac.
“The northern European composers are really coming into their own…we’re discovering that music,” says Associate Director Carolyn Howe. She describes the pieces from Finland and Estonia as containing “often really exciting and crunchy harmonies.” The arrangements are “often sparse, then dense; they will do a unison section, or parts in fifths, and then suddenly it gets denser and denser, eight parts at once, with a wonderful climax. They really play with that harmonic structure.”
“Spellbound” is being performed on two subsequent afternoons, at two different locations. At Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre, Dec 16, 1:30-4pm, the choir will hold a special version of the concert as a fundraiser, offering a “champagne tea” with “songs, tipples, petit fours and auction,” and will include some additional soloists and musicians.
As a venue for the group, the Baumann is “really incredible,” enthuses Howe. “It’s got this carved installation on the ceiling…a beautiful acoustic performance space—beautiful to be in, and beautiful to sing in.” Purpose-built as rehearsal space for POV to perform small opera works, it features large windows, impressive curtains, and a wood floor. “There’s amazing reverb in there. We’re grateful that we’re able to use this space.”
Proceeds from the fundraiser will support such initiatives as youth outreach, commissioning original works, and travelling to compete and perform. This summer, Ensemble Laude is an invited “Spotlight” choir at the Podium 2018 festival in St John’s, Newfoundland.

Spellbound: Champagne Tea fundraiser, Dec 16, 1:30-4pm, the Baumann Centre, 925 Balmoral, $95 per guest. Spellbound concert, Dec 17, 3pm, Centennial United Church on David St, tickets $15-$25. To purchase,ensemblelaude.org, Ivy’s Bookshop, or Long & McQuade.—Mollie Kaye

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