Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and a consort of four viol da gambas join us for ‘Of Countertenors and Consorts’ at wbf2024!

March 22, 2024

The 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival begins on April 14th at 3 PM at the Crescent Arts Centre with our concert, Of Countertenors and Consorts. Curated by John Wiens, co-conducted by the dynamic duo of Andrew Balfour and Mel Braun, and featuring top Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and the Cardinal Consort of Viols, a consort of four viol da gambas, we will present works from the Elizabethan Renaissance alongside new works by Juno nominee Andrew Balfour and Carmen Braden.

CONCERT SPONSORS: Drs. Bill Pope and Elizabeth Tippett Pope

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Canadian countertenor, Daniel Cabena

About Daniel Cabena
Daniel Cabena sings, plays, writes, and teaches. He is also a curator of texts and music, and with Luke Hathaway he shares the artistic direction of ANIMA Early Music. Together they program concerts, commission new works of text and music, and create new works for the ear and for the stage.

To his work of curation and creation, Daniel brings a background in early music and liturgical music scholarship; an interest in how music functions in different performance contexts and traditions; and a curiosity about the ‘why’ of music, as well as its ‘how’.

Daniel teaches singing and historically-inspired performance at the Laurier Academy of Music & Arts (LAMA), where he also leads the Community Consort, a multi-instrumental, multidisciplinary community of practice and inquiry.

Daniel’s music-making and teaching are informed by the Alexander Technique, in which field he is a teacher. He also makes music with his hands, playing modern and Baroque violin, as well as vièle, viola da gamba, and recorders.

Daniel holds an Honours Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Doctorate of Music from l’Université de Montréal. He is a past recipient of the Bernard Diamant and Virginia Parker Prizes from the Canada Council for the Arts, and he holds a Master in Specialized Early Music Performance from the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland.

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Cardinal Consort of Viols — Linda Deshman, tenor viol; Sheila Smyth, treble viol; Sara Blake, bass viol; Valerie Sylvester, bass viol

About the Cardinal Consort of Viols
For well over a decade, the Cardinal Consort of Viols has been bringing exquisite music of the 16th and 17th centuries to Southern Ontario audiences, performed on the type of instrument for which it was written, the viola da gamba.

The consort has presented its own annual Thanksgiving Eve concerts and has been hosted by several concert series including Conrad Grebel’s (University of Waterloo), Music Mondays, Toronto Early Music Centre’s Musically Speaking, and the concert series of the Associates of the Toronto Symphony. Cardinal Consort has also performed with several choirs, among them the Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers, Toronto Chamber Choir, and Tallis Choir. The consort has twice been the guest ensemble of the Toronto Continuo Collective and has also given many popular and engaging performances and demonstrations at the Toronto Early Music Fair. Recent Cardinal performances include last season’s multi-concert tour with the gifted and versatile countertenor Daniel Cabena, and featuring a plague-themed programme, To Our Great Joy. 

This season, the Consort will collaborate again with Daniel, in A Nest of Byrds, a new project in honour of the 400th anniversary of the 1623 death of composer William Byrd, with concerts in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and on Hamilton’s Hammer Baroque series. Cardinal Consort is pleased to be joining Dead of Winter in Of Countertenors and Consorts (and we are happy to have you!!)

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Mel Braun photo by Matt Duboff

About Mel Braun
Music Director Mel Braun is a long-time baritone soloist, known for his work in Early Music with Tafelmusik and Opera Atelier, his New Music explorations with Banff Centre and Groundswell, and his Art Song projects focusing on the works of Schubert and Wolf. Professor of Voice at the Desautels Faculty of Music, where he also directs the Opera Ensembles, Mel has seen many of his students go on to professional careers as performers, teachers, and Arts Administrators. He has been with DOW since 2010, specializing in workshopping and directing the premieres of new works by Andrew Balfour. When not teaching or directing, Mel is an avid Bombers/Jets fan, with a keen interest in the local pop music scene, many of whose young singers he continues to mentor.

Andrew Balfour photo by Kristen Sawatzky

About Andrew Balfour
Of Cree descent, Andrew Balfour is an innovative composer/conductor/singer/sound designer with a large body of choral, instrumental, electro-acoustic and orchestral works. Andrew’s works have been performed and/or broadcast locally, nationally, and internationally. He has been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Roomful of Teeth, Tafelmusik, Ensemble Caprice, Groundswell, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, Musica Intima, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Winnipeg Singers, and the Kingston Chamber Choir, among others. Andrew Balfour is also the founder and Artistic Director of the innovative vocal group Dead of Winter (Camerata Nova Inc.), now in its 26th year of offering a concert series in Winnipeg. With Dead of Winter, Andrew Balfour specializes in creating “concept concerts,” including a series of three Truth and Reconciliation events (Taken, Fallen, Captive, Notinikew, and Transformation), exploring themes through an eclectic array of new works, arrangements and inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations. Andrew is passionate about music education and outreach, particularly on northern reserves and inner-city schools where he has worked on behalf of the National Arts Centre, Dead of Winter, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and various Winnipeg school divisions. Andrew was Curator and Composer-in-Residence of the WSO’s inaugural Indigenous Festival and, in 2017, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Senate of Canada for his contribution to Canada’s Indigenous and music communities.

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