Genticorum: voyages and voyageurs

It was quite possibly the perfect evening for three of Canada’s most heart-stirring instrumentalists and singers. The Music Garden at Toronto’s Harbourfront presented Genticorum, staged in a beautiful summer setting replete with the aroma of fresh blossoms, set against a backdrop of a stately, sun-kissed weeping willow.

This is authentic Canadian music at it finest, born in the historic songcraft of Canada’s earliest French explorers and adapted over time, rejuvenated by these modern traditionalists and altered according to their mood. Using three-part harmonies together with fiddle, wooden flute, acoustic guitar, electric bass and foot percussion, the audience is not long falling under their considerable spell.

Promoting their fourth release, Nagez Rameurs, musicians Alexandre-Moulin de Grosbois-Garand (wooden flute, fretless bass, fiddle, vocals), Pascal Gemme (fiddle, feet, vocals) and Yann Falquet (guitar, Jew’s harp, vocals) were clearly taken with the lush outdoor setting which added a certain something to the joie de vivre of their music, without any loss of sound quality in the open air (give or take the odd Porter jet).

With a theme of ‘voyages and voyageurs’, the new material is a seamless addition to their catalogue. And while one might think their French lyric a roadblock to enjoying their music, the opposite would be closer to the truth. A few well-coached singalongs proved less than successful with the predominantly Anglo crowd, but points for trying. 

Genticorum’s ability to weave French lyricism into their expert instrumentation proves a joy to behold – in any language. Highlights included the breathtaking title song – a translation of Irish poet Thomas Moore’s  “A Canadian Boat Song” – sung a cappella. Daniel Boucher’s “Reel Circulaire” positively soars under the driving fiddle work of Pascal. And, apologizing for such uplifting fare, “Galope Doux Bedon” – a positive tune about ‘the cat of the soft tummy’ – was delivered by the trio in the same buoyant fashion as most of their material, despite the fact that the real-life theme of this album revolves around the down-side of the voyageur lifestyle.

Which is the beauty of Genticorum. Their joyous attack on any subject is transformed by their overall energy and style of playing. It’s feel-good music that transcends any lyric and the chance to see these merry wizards deliver the goods live is about as good as music gets.

To be fortunate enough to enjoy it the night before Canada Day, is a shot to the heart – the ultimate Canadiana that totally hits the mark.



Photography – E.Thom

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