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Quarantones concert series to make stops in Cumberland and Comox

The Quarantones will perform concerts in Cumberland and Comox in June. Photo submitted.

The 13 members of the Quarantones Male Chorus, along with musical director Denise Marquette and accompanist Kelly Thomas, will return to the stage for three performances of Sea Shanties and Nautical Nuggets, on June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Weird Church in Cumberland, and June 8 at 2:30 p.m. at the Comox United Church.

“Audiences can expect a dynamic and captivating experience, filled with crisp harmonies, infectious rhythms, and a sense of camaraderie that captures the essence of life on the high seas” said Marquette. “With its rich history and universal appeal, maritime music has the power to enthrall audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”

Numerous guest musicians will join the Quarantones on stage.

Charlotte Harvey plays flute and penny whistle on several pieces.

“These instruments add wonderful texture and depth to the music,” said Marquette. “The flute with its rich and resonant sound and the penny whistle with its bright and piercing tone bring a distinctive quality to the sea shanties.”

Harvey has assembled a Celtic quartet to perform the lively Sailors Hornpipes and a medley of Irish tunes. She is joined by Dave Harvey on guitar, Ellie Smith on violin and Stephanie Nicholl on bodhran drum.

Cumberland’s Valley Edge Choir, restarted in 2022 and now conducted by Quarantones’ tenor Gregor Schoenberg, will perform a set on June 7.

The concert will feature a varied repertoire of maritime tunes. Sail on the Antelope, the “scummiest vessel you’ve ever seen,” as Mike Day sings of the ill-fated attempt to plunder an American ship loaded with gold in Barrett’s Privateers by Stan Rogers. In the world choral premiere of Home to Mandalay, race along on the majestic tall ship Thermopylae, the swiftest clipper ship of her day, as she plies the tea trade on the China Seas.

Witness the cruel sight of vanquished pirates “a-drowning as they tried to swim ashore” after their ship was pounded and de-masted by a frigate’s broad-sides in High Barbary.

Feel the biting cold of the Arctic as a sailor, wasting away in his lonely grave, longs for the arms of his loved one in the poignant lament Frobisher Bay.

Hear the hauntingly beautiful Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her sung by Bob Udell and Glenn Gustafson as a young sailor is urged to leave the ship and return to life on land. Laugh as Gregor Shoenberg regails the audience with The Last Saskatchewan Pirate. Enjoy other classics including We Sail the Ocean Blue by Gilbert and Sullivan, a fast-paced arrangement of What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor and the iconic The Wellerman.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students and are available at Blue Heron Books in Comox, at the Laughing Oyster Book Store in Courtenay, and at the door.