Les Voix Humaines Consort of Viols – Rafael Sanchez, Margaret Little, Susie Napper, Nigel North, Melisande Corriveau and Felix Deak (from left) – perform at the Port Theatre on Nov. 3. (Photo supplied)

Les Voix Humaines Consort of Viols – Rafael Sanchez, Margaret Little, Susie Napper, Nigel North, Melisande Corriveau and Felix Deak (from left) – perform at the Port Theatre on Nov. 3. (Photo supplied)

Montreal string ensemble presents classical music by a Renaissance spy

Les Voix Humaines Consort of Viols perform John Dowland’s ‘Lachrimae’ at Port Theatre

A Montreal-based early music ensemble is coming to Nanaimo to performing the work of one of the Renaissance’s “greatest” lute players, who was also a spy for Queen Elizabeth.

Montreal’s Les Voix Humaines Consort of Viols ­– featuring viol de gamba players Susie Napper, Margaret Little, Mélisande Corriveau, Felix Deak and Rafael Sanchez-Guevara, as well as British lutenist Nigel North – will be at the Port Theatre on Nov 3 to perform John Dowland’s Lachrimae.

Napper, the string group’s co-artistic director, said Dowland was “one of the greatest lutenists of his time,” and she still enjoys his Lachrimae as much as she did when she first heard it as a child.

“Even for a kid it’s extremely beautiful, but of course it’s extremely quiet in a way and personal and introverted. This ain’t no rock music,” she said. “But it’s so touching and leads into these amazing harmonies that are so characteristic of that period of English music when one of the most popular emotions was melancholy.”

Last year the ensemble recorded and released the composition as an album. Napper said the piece welcomes improvised ornamentation, and that the consort’s rendition has changed significantly over time.

“When you’re actually playing it in those incredibly dissonant harmonies, it’s very physical,” she said of the piece. “You’re sort of right inside there in the pain, in the melancholy, so it’s always moving and touching to play.”

Before the performance, Napper and the rest of the group will present a discussion about Dowland and his historical period. Napper said it was an interesting era.

“It’s Shakespeare’s time and Elizabeth I and all the political intrigue that surrounded Dowland himself,” she said. “It is said he was a spy… Musicians were spies because they were servants at court and they were perfectly placed to send messages back to their country.”

She added that Dowland was a Catholic, which put him at odds with Protestant England but did not disrupt his national loyalty and devotion to his monarch.

“He was invited to be a spy for the Pope at some point, but he decided that was not a good idea,” Napper said. “That would not please the Queen.”

WHAT’S ON … Les Voix Humaines Consort of Viols performs at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St. on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets $40 for adults, $35 for members, $12.50 for students. Available at the box office. Pre-show discussion at 1:15 p.m.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk on Nanaimo’s Victoria Road

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Beef of the Week: Shame on the Chinese restaurant that uses peanuts instead of almonds on their almond chicken. This is not right.
Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 20

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Rendering of two residential buildings proposed for the corner of Haliburton and Milton streets. (Matthew T. Hansen Architect image)
Two five-storey residential buildings approved for Haliburton Street

City council issues development permit for 79-unit complex at Haliburton and Milton

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Most Read