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This article was published 4/3/2019 (324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The creative crop of our keystone province is being cultivated by a local chorus.
Camerata Nova will present its second concert of the season, The Prairie Songbook, on March 9 and 10 at The Park Theatre. The program of newly arranged folk and pop standards by acts the likes of Neil Young, Randy Bachman, Begonia, JP Hoe, and Royal Canoe will be performed by a 10-person vocal ensemble — backed by a four-piece band — and guest artist Raine Hamilton.
"The plan is to do something in a more intimate setting with a folk and pop flavour," Camerata Nova director and conductor Mel Braun said. "Because we have so many wonderful choral arrangers in this city, we thought we’d try to put together some new arrangements of the prairie standards.
"That was the genesis of the program," Braun said.
Camerata Nova has built a reputation in the city for its renaissance, contemporary, and Indigenous choral productions, and often features original works by artistic director Andrew Balfour.
Braun, an associate professor in the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, said for this event, Camerata Nova has commissioned nearly a dozen original arrangements from local composers, including Philip Lapatha and Danny Wiebe, and is putting the focus on the deep well of talent nurtured by the prairies.
"The biggest thing that keeps it alive is that we all work together in various collaborations; I think that’s the prairie way," Braun said. "Working with Camerata is always a wonderful adventure because we get to explore new things.
"There’s always new music to make and it’s a great pleasure to fit together with new influences and see what comes of it."
Wading into the world of popular music has also been a fun experiment for the group and a chance to enjoy the comforts of home.
"Usually when Camerata performs, it’s a fully acoustic show, but in this case what’s happening is that everybody is on a microphone," Braun said. "So it will be very low key and fun, and when our guest artist Raine Hamilton comes, we’ll just stick her right in the middle and contribute to her arrangements as well."
Hamilton, an award-winning singer-songwriter who recently released her second studio album Night Sky, will perform a solo set in addition to joining Camerata Nova for a number of tunes.
"I love collaborating with ensembles and I love the prairie song writers, so this will be a wonderful show," the Osborne Village musician said. "It’s a wonderful thing to connect with an ensemble and the people in it, and it holds so much creative and performance weight.
"The texture of it is different than the other performances that I do," Hamilton said. "I’m keen to do it to connect with those other artists and share that energy of performance, which is such a beautiful thing."
The event is also a family affair for Braun and co-musical director Vic Pankratz. Braun’s son Micha, a guitarist and singer who has worked with The Nods and Jaika, and Pankratz’s sons Jason and David (Begonia, Quinzy) are members of the backing band and will have original works performed during the show.
The Prairie Songbook will be performed twice on March 9, at 7 and 10 p.m., and on March 10 at 3 p.m. at The Park Theatre (698 Osborne St.). Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $15 for under 30-years-old, available online at cameratanova.com, at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by calling 204-918-4547, or at the door.