Tuesday, September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023

Film genre explored in next Viva Chorale concert

One might expect Viva Chorale director Caroni Young to laugh off a seemingly boilerplate question about how she comes up with program ideas for the Salt Spring-based choir.  

And the laugh comes — but there’s a typically thoughtful answer right behind it. Under Young’s direction, Viva Chorale’s concerts have consistently surprised audiences with innovative selections that encompass broader themes. The upcoming performance is no exception; Young said the choir was in its final weeks of rehearsal for Spaghetti Western, a two-act concert that will delight music lovers even as it gently encourages an examination of how Western cinema depicted Indigenous culture. 

“I think it was the idea of pairing two things that are contrasting yet related through this movie genre that sort of sparked my interest,” said Young. “In terms of a beautiful classical Italian repertoire, but then looking for something playful that would highlight the ‘Western’ side.” 

Viva Chorale has performed themes from Western movies over the years; Young said those sorts of pieces showcased the various aspects of the choir singers’ skill sets. But the upcoming performance will split the concert into two halves: classical music from Italy first, then selections from Westerns, with surprising correlations. 

The idea of the Spaghetti Western, according to Young — cowboy-genre films produced in Italy, using mostly Italian actors and crew and ultimately dubbed into English for U.S. and Canadian audiences — was itself a sort of subversion of expectations. 

“It took the American or European model of cinematography — even the way they would do close-ups on certain characters’ faces at particular times — and try to be something like the American version, but it was just not quite as you would expect it to be,” said Young. “So for this concert, it sort of became the underlying theme — that things aren’t always as they appear.” 

Young said a lot of Viva Chorale’s repertoire has some sort of link to that idea, and a recent documentary she had watched while working on the program had brought the “Spaghetti Western” notion into focus — how American filmmakers shaped a lot of the stereotypes and misconceptions carried into today about Indigenous culture, through how they were represented in the films. 

“So part of the program is speaking to that concept,” said Young. “There’s that playfulness, but with the underlying intent of hopefully asking the audience to reflect on how our perceptions have been changed and shifted by Hollywood as well.” 

Spaghetti Western is at ArtSpring on Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available through ArtSpring.


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