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The Best There Is…

The Best There Is..
How did I nearly miss this??
On a Tuesday evening the Tallis Scholars graced the gorgeous Bella Concert Hall with their consummate grasp of renaissance choral music.
I’ve always wanted to be in the presence of the best in the world. Bowling? I’m there. Because there is something transcendent in experiencing the pinnacle of a craft or pursuit or art.
The choral form has been with us for centuries. And this century, there is no better choral ensemble than this, directed by Peter Phillips and comprising 10 singers.
So as a chamber choir – of which we have 2 supreme examples in Calgary [Luminous Voices and Spiritus] – this is what you aspire to. And as a listener, there is no equal.
The precision of their work is only matched by the warmth and welcome of their voices. And in a group of this size, every voice is indispensible. No one can mail it in on a bad night. The exquisite balance would be destroyed.
And they were on this night. And most gracious. They lent their superior grasp of the music to their hosts, the Luminous Voices, our professional chamber choir. Shared the stage with them for a selection – the touching John Tavener Song for Athena. Here is an example of their treatment of early music
In any area of human endeavor, there is so much nuance that can be achieved whether in golf, crochet, you name it. And when an effort comes from the top of its world, no one can measure the care, the patience and practice that goes into a perfomance that glides off the ear or is sublime to the eye. All we can know is the apparent ease and mastery.
Would that more of our organzations would want to emulate such a standard.
On our way out, an inquiring white haired lass questioned: “Are you a journalist?”
“No, I write a blog.”
“What’s it about?”
“Oh, I write about business, life and travel – that part mostly about going to Mexico and Spain.”
“Well, we went to Heaven tonight.”

We may have been to heaven but we were not transformed in our senses as were a small crowd convened at Shelf Life books on a newly radiant and summer-like Friday night last week.
Jaap Blonk [yes you read that right] was in town to advance the cause of sound poetry. What got me in the Swerve Magazine description of the event was “not to be missed.” And I’m glad I didn’t.
Sound Poetry – now there’s an interesting art form I’d never heard of. It consists of occasionally language free vocalizations and sounds that make up a soundscene. Sounds wierd, and it is. Delivered by this bookish intense lithe midlife man with white hair parted in the middle and falling past his round glasses below his earlobes, it works on you.
He began with an eruption of zicks and blots of high and low tones, guttural roarings and timid squeaks, shouts and whispers. A pre-teen girl emitted the involuntary response the rest of us, despite our surprise, were suppressing. She couldn’t control her giggling. It fit!
But she [and we] got past the urge as this earnest Dutchman forged on with his mission of bringing this form to us, despite potential distraction.
The work, not random, but composed and replicable, actually begins to make its own kind of strange sense after a while. Here he is performing a Dada piece.

The Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works.

Thank heaven everyone has not been coopted by our mainstream world.

Because, unlike the perfection of the Tallis Scholars, which sent us home elevated, this performance sent me home transformed. Suddenly every sound I heard was a form of nonsense – a blip, an emission. I wasn’t seeking to understand, I was just hearing our soundscape as music, as emotional energy. Sometimes you leave a show and everything seems different. Those are memorable!
Whenever I leave a film, concert, art show or performance with a new twist on the senses, that exposure has achieved something beyond “enjoyable” – it has altered and expanded my sensibility.
The courageous and profoundly different Jaap Blonk achieved that.
And the giggling girl? I was certain she would be excused after the intermission. But there she was, willingly exposing herself to more squawks, moans and whistles, because she was… intrigued. And no one else left either…


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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