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L’Académie’s Rumor Has It

Fabulous. No wait, I have to say it in French…fabuleux. Fabuleux. Oui, fabuleux. And I don’t even speak French. But last Saturday night’s L’Académie’s Rumor Has It was so…fantastically…French—and Baroque French at that—that no word but fabuleux will do.

L’Académie may be a start-up in the classical music world, but at five years old, it’s established itself as a serious, Baroque-focused ensemble. It’s general director, Leslie Kwan, is the harpsichordist, for pete’s sake. How much more Baroque can you get?

Baroque yes, but cheeky, too. And fantastically good. This weekend’s two-concert Rumor Has It offering was subtitled “Love, gossip and 2 shepherdesses.” Who talks about classical music like that?

Impudence aside, the musical qualifications of the musicians is impressive. All the primary players have played/studied around the globe. And they love what they play. How do I know that? Because you can’t play like that if you don’t.

The singing of sopranos Teresa Wakim and Brenna Wells was such a pleasure to listen to. Both as soloists and duetists (which I think is not actually a word), the purity and tone of their voices capture the delight and emotion (and there was a lot of emotion in the Baroque world) of the pieces chosen for this concert. Gossipy, heartbroken, light-hearted and hopeful, how do you sing all those emotions in six songs? By being damnably good, that’s how. The audience didn’t want to applaud, because it took us all out of the moment, and none of us wanted that.

I think, because the world has moved beyond the actual era of the Baroque, that people who make Baroque music know they will probably never have the reach of, say, uh, Alice Cooper in his prime. But the joy of enjoying Baroque music is that the ensemble is small and the venue is small, and so the experience is, almost by design, intimate. I mean, you can see the music being made. And trust me, there’s something very, very cool about that.

As someone who used to sing (the sacred choral repertoire, meaning: everything in Latin), it was…just…so…nice…to be in that environment again, and hearing really good musicians making really good music. A shout out to concertmaster Joan Plana for his lovely playing and his subtle ability to lead the rest of the musicians.

Note for people who think “classical music” is boring: you are dead wrong. An evening with L’Académie is fun, lively, and beautiful. And we’re all in luck! Their next concertseries is in early November! -by Carolyn Donovan

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