Saturday, September 17, 2011
The 6-member early music vocal ensemble HEINAVANKER, hailing from Tallinn, Estonia, enthralled the modest but very appreciative audience at Saturday afternoon’s concert in St. George’s Anglican Church, Place to Canada. The vocal artistry and musicianship displayed by this group of singers was a magical moment for this writer – almost other-worldly.
While their repertoire might not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, (early Estonian religious folk songs or popular chorales, runic songs and the music of Johannes Ockeghem), their vocal technique and mastery of expression (both solo and ensemble work), was of a calibre that superseded most musical performances of this type heard in this city in recent years.
The listeners were spellbound until the last syllable of the final work on the program, the pre-Christian runic song, Loomiselaul (The Creation), one of the oldest and most distinctive examples of Estonian culture. What followed in the first of two encores, was the surprisingly beautiful and unexpected throat singing (also known as overtone chanting), as demonstrated by Taniel Kirikal.
Amazingly, given their gruelling schedule, there was no evidence of tiredness exhibited in their voices (translated as tuning and pitch problems). It should be noted they arrived from Estonia on Thursday, performed in Quebec City on Friday night (at the International des Musiques Sacrées de Québec – Église Saint-Roch), followed by their performance in Montreal and then Toronto on Sunday. They headed back to Tallinn on Monday, having had very little sleep due to travelling by car between these cities.
They are to be commended for their professionalism and their stamina – both musical and physical. It would be a welcome opportunity to hear them again.