CROSSING BORDERS, a review
Featuring: Maureen Batt (soprano) & Cheryl Duvall (piano)
Saturday, January 24, 2015
St. Andrew’s Church, Halifax
Rather than Maureen Batt choosing her professional passion, it seems like it has chosen her. And luckily her body, mind and spirit have listened. Though no doubt she has devoted hours and years of sweat and drive to hone her lifework, she performing seems as natural an expression as breathing or blinking.
Saturday night was a very “dark and dreary” one in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While many may have decided to hide under warm blankets rather than venture out in the pounding rains, those fortunate to have found warmth inside St. Andrew’s Church were treated to a very special recital.
Soprano Maureen Batt and pianist Cheryl Duvall presented a wide array of pieces from North American composers, established and emerging, written between 1989 and 2014. Some songs were contemplative, others funny, some so traumatic—in theme, not presentation—they moistened the eyes.
Batt exemplified the versatility demanded of an opera singer and musical theatre artist alike—vocal chops, beautiful counterbalanced with raw emotional sounds, character-driven facial expression and movement, effectual timing. Duvall’s palpable expertise and mutual fervour for music’s intricacies, made for an ideal partner. Their chemistry was most obvious during the performance of “For broken and tired am I” (Matthew Emery & Archibald Lampman), a moving piece for both the artists and audience alike.
Those sitting in watch Saturday night witnessed songs performed in Canada for the very first time; they observed shoes flying, eyes speaking, laughter singing…animals almost hopping across a piano…a transfixing, multi-layered montage created by a looper pedal and Batt’s gorgeous voice…Crossing Borders was well worth venturing out on a dark and dreary night. ~MB
Maureen Batt & Cheryll Duvall present CROSSING BORDERS again on March 26th at Heliconian Hall, Toronto.
Maureen Batt’s next Halifax performance will be on February 14th with Opera Nova Scotia.