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October, 2006

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Listen to the joy
by Kristine Berey

I clearly remember the first moment that music became everything to me. It was a too- long-ago Sunday morning, and the room was flooded with winter sunlight. Next to me was a young girl with glasses and two long braids, intently playing the cello. I was assigned to the soprano glockenschpiel. Others played mysterious and beautiful instruments around me, including Irish harps, psalteriums, bass, alto and soprano xylophones, recorders and various drums and tambourines.
In the centre, conducting, was the gentlest and most sensitive man I’ve ever known, Mr. Gabor Bartha, creator of the children’s music studio, Music for the Very Young. I didn’t know then, that he was really a magician as much as he was a musician, that to get a child as young as three to experience beauty so intense it’s spiritual, is a miracle. It was a lifelong lesson that real art is something children instantly respond to, on their own terms.
I only recall being uplifted by the sounds of bells and drums, caressed by the strings, soothed by the inimitable sounds of the wooden xylophones and reveling in the sense of infinite freedom in how it all came together.
At the first sounds of Barbarossa, the new CD by Les Jongleurs de la Mandragore, I was flooded by these memories. Their music comes from a time of fairy tales and dragons, princes and princesses, 12th to 14th century Europe, the flowering of the Middle Ages.
It is an era that moved composer Carl Orff to write oratorios of symphonic proportions on ancient texts and create child-sized instruments that are the backbone of the “Orff Method” of teaching music to children.This was the inspiration for the marvellous work Mr. Bartha did on Queen Mary Rd. in Montreal for so many years, as he shaped the “method” in his unique and successful way to North American children.
Ingrid Boussaroque was also taken by the period. After completing a Master’s Degree in Physics, she returned to her first love, immersing herself in Medieval music through workshops and private study in Europe. “This music is so lively and so happy,” she says.
Boussaroque explains that while “jongleurs” means “juggler” in modern French, the term denoted travelling musicians whose vocation was not to create the music but to entertain.
A concert by this group of five young musicians is nothing less than pure musical delight as they perform in costume, on instruments that are the legacy of the Arabic presence throughout Europe and bring to life music that is too often overshadowed by the music of the Renaissance that followed.
Be our guest at The Senior Times Gala on October 14, when Les Jongleurs de la Mandragore bring you a glimpse of a fairy tale world. And don’t forget to pick up a CD for yourself or for your grandchildren. Devoid of unsettling harmonic shifts or heavy downbeats, this music is ideal even for babies, while remaining intricate and varied in its rhythms and textures for any adult to enjoy.

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