A Downton Abbey Valentine
Palm Court Light Orchestra
Rebecca Hass mezzo soprano
Charles Job, conductor
Cowichan Performing Arts Centre
February 14, 2016
By Gwen Despins, Qualicum Beach Seniors Activities Centre
March 2016 Newsletter
On Sunday, Valentine's Day, we had the most enjoyable afternoon at the theatre in Duncan. It was ‘The Palm Court Light Orchestra’ performing a Downton Abbey Valentine. The complete change was that Mezzo Soprano, Rebecca Hass, was the hostess and did all the story telling as well as her glorious singing…what a voice!
It was magnificent, taking us through the time periods and wearing the correct dress of the time as the music moved along through the 20s and 30s. The orchestra was at its best! But, Rebecca Hass told the story wonderfully and carried us all back in time.
The show ended with a rousing sing-a-long, including “Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy” and “I’m Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage.” It was the best Palm Court show that we had seen…wonderful, and of course, a standing ovation to all the performers! WOW!!!
A Senior Valentine Moment
Palm Court Light Orchestra
Lambroula Pappas, soprano
Charles Job, conductor
University Centre Auditorium
February 14, 2015
By Peter Berlin
What is palm court music? Think back to the glamorous decades before the Second World War: a band playing in a pavilion on the Promenade in Folkestone, or in the gardens of the Grand Hôtel in Nice, or in the tearoom of our own Empress Hotel. You are listening to the music with one ear, or maybe both ears when the tune brings back particularly pleasant memories. If classical music is a complex Malbec and pop is Coca-Cola, then palm court music is Liebfraumilch—sweet, but not toxic enough to send you reeling into the parking lot afterwards.
Charles Job, the founder and conductor of the 20-strong Palm Court Light Orchestra, pointed out that his orchestra is bigger than the traditional palm court band and smaller than a symphony orchestra—a fact which clearly opens up new possibilities in the chosen genre. The sixteen intermezzi, waltzes, marches, serenades and extracts from operas and film music contained in the special Valentine Diva program certainly came across with far more brilliance and energy than a handful of palm court musicians could ever have mustered.
The program alternated between vocal and purely instrumental music. Canadian soprano Lambroula Pappas stole a big part of the evening with her amazing coloratura and dynamic range, including high notes delivered with a volume and spectral purity sufficient to shatter crystal glasses. During the first half of the concert she appeared with her hair tied back and dressed in a formal black suit, as appropriate to Bach/Gounod's "Ave Maria", Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" and Puccini's "Doretta's Aria". However, during the intermission she let her hair down and changed into a less formal bare-shouldered burgundy dress to match the more laid-back songs that followed. Even her body language changed from rigid to expressive.
Sensitized as we are nowadays to political correctness, one might have been forgiven for doing a double-take when Pappas repeated the words "Zigeuner" and "Gypsy" with great gusto in the song taken from Noel Coward's operetta "Bitter Sweet". This ethnic label is controversial in both present-day German and English, but at least we haven't yet become so mentally ossified as to censor such musically important songs from the modern repertoire.
The audience was a veritable ocean of grey hair, with many billowing sails in the shape of red garments to celebrate Valentine's Day. Everybody laughed politely at Charles Job's nudge-nudge jokes in between the moments musicaux. The encore consisted of an arrangement of Boulanger's "Da Capo", this time to great acclaim. Clearly the Palm Court Light Orchestra enjoys huge popularity among the generations that still remember the elegant pleasures of taking afternoon tea with musical accompaniment. Inevitably their numbers will diminish over time, and one can only hope that the Orchestra will win new followers by adapting its offerings accordingly.
'Bravo' Palm Court, Lavigne in Lanza tribute
By Lexi Bainas, Citizen February 15, 2012
Friends of the Palm Court Light Orchestra packed the Quw'utsun Cultural Centre Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12 as the group wound up its silver jubilee season with a romantic tribute to the magic of Mario Lanza. Tenor Ken Lavigne, who first appeared with the orchestra in 1997 and is hands down the Palm Court's favourite featured singer, thrilled the crowd from the outset. They cried "Bravo!" to his opening selection, the teasing Italian song, "Funiculi Funicula" and it just got better from there.
With such Lanza standards and worldwide favourites as "O Sole Mio", "Nessun Dorma" and "Granada" and splendid old bodice-rippers like "Return to Sorrento," Lavigne and the orchestra combined to provide a lush and lovely Valentine for the appreciative audience.
Palm Court conductor Charles Job says he still cannot believe it's been a quarter century since the orchestra played its first show at the Cowichan Theatre.
Since then the aggregation has made many, many friends on Vancouver Island and, through its recordings, widely in the United Kingdom, United States, France and Australia.
So, now that they've completed their 25th season, what's up next for this talented group?
They have now announced tentative plans for three concerts next season: "Over the Rainbow" in November featuring MGM musicals such as Singing in the Rain, Easter Parade and The Wizard of Oz, then "Rhapsody in Blue" in February 2013 offering a tribute to George Gershwin and the American song book and finally, in March next year, the orchestra is hoping to wind up with "Flying Down to Rio" where the musicians go Latin with such danceable rhythms as paso doble, samba, tango, mambo and even the bossa nova with tunes like "The Girl from Ipanema."
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Surprise guest livens up weekend Palm Court show
Alex Hassan, centre, came to the rescue of the Palm Court Light Orchestra Sunday, flying to Vancouver Island at the last minute to fill in for expected special guest, Frederick Hodges.
Photograph by : Lexi Bainas, Citizen
Alex Hassan, a last-minute replacement soloist, flown in from Washington, D.C., charmed the audience at the Palm Court Light Orchestra's season opening concert at the Cowichan Theatre, Sunday, Sept. 26.
Conductor Charles Job explained that Frederick Hodges, the pianist who had created such a sensation when he performed with Palm Court in the Valley last year, had to cancel his appearance due to a family emergency.
Cue Hassan, one of Hodge's friends, and another fine performer who's enthusiastic about the music of the 1920s and 1930s, traveled for 14 hours to join the orchestra for a series of three shows this week in Victoria, Cowichan and Sidney.
Through his career, Hassan counts notable performances at the Smithsonian Institute and at a party for the Gershwin family at Manhattan's Players Club.
He's a regular performer at ragtime festivals around North America and is also a favourite in Germany and Britain.
Along with joining the orchestra on their selections, which included such Roaring Twenties faves as "Ain't She Sweet", "My Blue Heaven" and "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips," he also presented medlies plus novelty numbers such as "Sax-o-phun" with Erik Abbink, one of the orchestra's saxophone players.
Another top-class musician brought in for the Palm Court Orchestra's opening concert Sunday was banjo-whiz Afred "Borgy" Borgerson. Over 80, he is a stalwart with the internationally-acclaimed traditional jazz band, the Dixieland Express, but he has deep roots in the Cowichan Lake area and enjoys returning to the Valley.
Operettas of the Silver Screen
Palm Court Orchestra with guest conductor Dr. Donald Hunsberger and soprano, Charlotte Corwin
University Centre Auditorium
February 9, 2008
There came a point, approximately two-thirds of the way through the first half of Saturday evening's concert, when I began to wonder whether, at last, the Palm Courters (should that be "Courtiers"?) had managed to come up with a programme none of whose melodies I would recognise.
Of course, as PCO supremo Charles Job pointed out to me at the interval, this was no doubt the result of my incomplete musical education, which has left me unfamiliar with the more obscure works of, for example, Rudolf Friml.
In the event the final item in the first half, a group of selections from No, No, Nanette - a title everyone knows, but whose plot appears to be one of life's great mysteries - included both "I Want to be Happy", which broke the duck (those ignorant of cricket may skip that last phrase, which has nothing to do with the abuse of waterfowl), and the eternally-familiar "Tea for Two".
I must confess to harbouring a mild regret (not unshared, as I discovered later) that the opportunity to play Shostakovich's wonderful Tahiti Trot, his arrangement of "Tea for Two" made in twenty minutes on a bet with conductor Nikolai Malko, was missed; but that is in no way a criticism of the playing under guest conductor Donald Hunsberger - himself something of a legend in wind-band circles.
Indeed, under Hunsberger's jovial tutelage the orchestra played with precision and rhythmic vitality, producing a well-balanced sound with exceptional dynamics.
Soprano Charlotte Corwin provided the icing on the evening's cake. Not only is she possessed of a beautiful, creamy voice, immaculate technique and intonation, she treated her songs as if they were the greatest music in the world.
I particularly enjoyed her performance of Victor Herbert's "A Kiss in the Dark", culminating in the sort of florid descant which appeared at least once in any film starring Deanna Durbin. And her encore, "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" - although not, to judge by those in my vicinity, too old to hum - can have left hardly a dry eye in the house.
Another altogether delightful concert from the Palm Court. The final performance is scheduled for 2:30 Tuesday in the Sidney's Charlie White Theatre.
Sunny under the Palms
By Peter Rusland,
Wednesday October 18, 2006
Like sunshine after Sunday’s showers, the Palm Court Orchestra left smiles galore with its unforgettable show From Vienna With Love in Brentwood College’s T. Gil Bunch theatre.
Conductor Charles Job hit a homer pairing his polished 28-piece orchestra with Chemainus tenor Ken Lavigne and soprano Lambroula Pappas. Their vocal virtuosity and understated acting during solo and duet duty tickled the packed house between PCO’s impressive repertoire laced with merry waltzes, and happy polkas.
Job and crew set the stage well, wearing pearl white outfits and opening with Carl Millocker’s jaunty march Poor Jonathan.
Bandleader Job reminded us critics call Richard Heuberger’s delicate waltz Im Chambre Separee “wonderful schmaltz”, lending an air of modesty to the afternoon. But opera sensations Pappas and Lavigne have plenty to brag about if they want to, though the busy pair of professionals is too busy honing their aural craft to dwell on ego.
Pappas – wearing smiles and an aquamarine gown – used expressive sensuality during Franz Lehar’s Fancy Free and Franz Von Suppe’s German number Hab’Ich nur deinen Liebe. Lavigne followed that tough act with Lehar’s Girls Were Made to Love & Kiss, and Richard Tauber’s My Heart and I, before joining Pappas for two superb duets by Lehar.
Lavigne proved he could be called Canada’s Pavarotti during Lehar’s You Are My Heart’s Delight. Then Pappas stunned the house with her vocal range on Lehar’s Meine Lippen, si Kussen. The duo was just warming up for dynamic chores during Lehar’s Dutiful Wife, and Romance & Duet.
The awesome afternoon was aptly crowned by the PCO playing Strauss’ famous Emperor’s Waltz.
Sunday’s concerts and its guests again proved Palm Court Orchestra shows are so upbeat they could be prescribed as an antidote for the blues.
Light-orchestra concert rating: 10 batons out of 10.
Photo Credit: Andrew Leong, News Leader
WONDERFUL SCHMALTZ: Palm Court Orchestra’s Charles Job Calls It Right
By Lexi Bainas. Cowichan Valley Citizen
Wednesday October 18, 2006
No sigh was left unbreathed, no handkerchief left undropped and – dare we say – no bodice left unripped as the Palm Court Light Orchestra pulled out all the stops Sunday afternoon and presented “From Vienna With Love.”
Romance and rapture were in the air. Soprano Lambroula Pappas made a sparkling debut and the Valley’s favourite tenor Ken lavigne was in great voice as the pair joined Charles Job and “the band” in the music of such luscious luminaries as Lehar, the family Strauss and Richard Tauber.
The event Sunday afternoon at Brentwood College’s T.Gil Bunch Centre drew a packed house and eager music fans lurked in the lobby, hopeful of finding ‘standby’ tickets from those unlucky enough not to be able to make the show.
Photo Credit: Cowichan Valley Citizen
LIGHT AND FUN. Perfect for Children, Families
YOUTH COMMENTARY by Katie Pasula
When asked if I would like to attend the Palm Court’s 2005 – 2006 season opening concert, Another Shade of Light with guest conductor Marc Fortier, I was quick to say “Yes” as, having done my web research, I was eager to see if this orchestra was as good as it is purported to be.
The music was wonderful! Light and happy. Even the musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves. Eric Coates’ Dam Busters march...and Golden Earrings by Victor Young were my personal favourites.
After the concert was over my mom and my aunt raved about the music and our enjoyable evening out together.
If someone were to ask me if Palm Court concerts are appropriate for children, or to attend as family with grandparents perhaps, I would say, “Yes!” This orchestra is the perfect introduction for children to classical music. Light and fun. There are no long pieces to bore youngsters after the first 2 minutes; the songs differ, the memorable melodies feel familiar: easy to hum or whistle. Plus, with full orchestra there is lots of action for kids to watch on stage.
I’m looking forward to my next concert conducted by Palm Court founder Charles Job who is said to be quite humourous. See you there!
Katie Pasula is a valued volunteer with Vancouver Island’s Palm Court Light Orchestra Youth Team.
Photo Credit: D. L. Pasula
Sweet Old-Fashioned Melodies Charm Audience
Cowichan Valley Citizen. Wednesday November 23, 2005
Tenor soloist Ken Lavigne adds drama to O Sole Mio during his performance with the Palm Court Orchestra Sunday November 20 at the T. Gil Bunch Theatre. His selections…all drew rapturous applause from the large crowd.
Photo Credit: Mike Szaskik, Cowichan Valley Citizen
A Swinging Afternoon with the Palm Court Orchestra
What: Ain't Misbehavin', Palm Court Orchestra,
Karel Roessingh, piano, Charles Job, conductor
Where: Charlie White Theatre, Sidney
When: February 11, 2006
"It don't mean a thing," as Duke Ellington memorably remarked, "if it ain't got that swing. Doo-wat, doo-wat, doo-wat, doo-wat, doo-wat, doo-wat."
Saturday afternoon's concert from the Palm Court Orchestra may have been short on "doo-wats"... but there was plenty of swing on offer.
For once, the biggest laughs of the afternoon were not provided by Job - although his now-mandatory pair of jokes elicited chuckles all round - but during the eponymous "Ain't Misbehavin'", superbly played by Karel Roessingh in a trio with percussionist Lou Williamson and bassist Alex Olsen.
Among more "traditional" PCO fare, I was most taken with Jack Strachey's "These Foolish Things" (those saxes again); Charlie Chaplin's "Eternally", played without sentimentality but with no lack of sentiment; and the lushness of Eric Maschwitz's "A Nightingale Sang", a song which, for no reason I can adequately explain, sends a shiver down my spine.
While in some ways the PCO might be viewed as curators of a vast collection of melodious and carefully constructed music, there is nothing of the museum in their playing or Job's infectious enthusiasm for it.
Victoria Times Colonist, Monday, October 3, 2005
Palm Court’s performance brings back fine memories
By Deryk Barker, Times Colonist staff
What: Palm Court Orchestra. Marc Fortier, conductor
Where: University Centre Auditorium
When: October 1, 2005
Of all the arts, music is probably the one which speaks most directly to our emotions; and it is often the music of our childhoods which can most immediately and dramatically affect us. I can think of no other reason why, at the close of the first half of Saturday’s excellent Palm Court concert, Eric Coates’ Dam Busters March, should have brought me to the verge of tears.
Half a century ago I loved this music above all others and on Saturday I was suddenly --- and quite unexpectedly --- transported back though the years.
Guest conductor Marc Fortier certainly kept the orchestra on their toes all evening, in the process of evincing some of the finest playing I’ve yet heard from them: lush and full-bodied, with every instrument making its presence felt and ensemble as tight as one could wish.
Although there was a fair amount of what one might describe as the Palm Court’s usual fare, there was also a considerable amount of Canadian Light Music --- yes, Virginia, there is such a thing --- on offer. And it was not found wanting.
Winnipeg’s Victor Davies was represented by two pieces, Shaleen and Butterfly Dance. To say that I am no fan of his “Mennonite” Concerto would be an understatement, but these two pieces were delightful: The former was quite lovely and featured gorgeous solos from more members of the orchestra than I have space to name. The latter alternated between a hilariously creaking waltz for trumpet and trombones and a clarinet-led polka, both of which were irresistible.
Fortier himself contributed three pieces to the published programme, showing him to be as accomplished a composer as he is a conductor.
All three, composed in and about Paris, were highly melodious and beautifully scored. My favourite --- and not just for its delicious title --- was Les petits rats de l’Opèra (which does seem to mean exactly what one imagines), which combined musical and visual humour with sideways glances in the direction of Bizet and Glinka.
Another delightful evening with the PCO.
The Cowichan Valley Citizen, Duncan
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Composer grateful for support
By Lexi Bainas, Citizen staff
Conductor Charles Job was in his glory Friday night at the Cowican Theatre as the Palm Court Orchestra played all his favourites in a ‘Conductor’s Choice’ concert.
There was plenty to like in an evening that featured many selections that were redolent of either innocence of childhood.
Roger Quilter’s A Children’s Overture featured many well-known nursery rhymes and chuckles could be heard from the audience as the group of professional musicians put a high gloss on the familiar tunes.
Before the playing of Ernest Tomlinson’s delightful Fairy Coach, Job read out a letter from the composer.
Tomlinson thanked Job, the orchestra and its friends for a wonderful booklet containing 500 signatures sent to him on the occasion of his 80th birthday last year, saying that his two trips to the Cowichan Valley to conduct the Palm Court had been memorable and congratulated the orchestra for their efforts to keep ‘light music’ alive.
The next concert is a Tea Party at Brentwood College May 22.
Cowichan News Leader, Duncan March 23, 2005
Two Big Palms Up
Palm Court Orchestra making classical music fun
By Peter Rusland, News Leader
Anyone who wasn’t whistling after Friday’s Palm Court Orchestra show in the Cowichan Theatre has real problems.
Conductor Charles Job’s choice of numbers gave us the merriest music this side of Christmas...
Still, Job’s 43-piece orchestra captured the playful spirit in all of us while toasting the composing talents of mostly British tunesmith’s, famed Canadian composer Robert Farnon being Job’s home-grown hero.
Farnon’s skippy Playtime, and Williams’ tree-lined Quiet Stroll ushered Job’s reading of a thank-you letter from Ernest Tomlinson who was touched by an 80th birthday card from Island audiences.
The Lancashire-based pro has led the Palm Court as a guest and noted its achievements “deserve every commendation.”
Thinking young is the heart of the Palm Court, personified by Job who admitted a student recently told him, “You’re just a big kid.”
Light music concert rating: 9 cookies out of 10