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Foot-Stomping Music, Canadian Style

February 28, 2009

Above: De Temps Antan, made up of Québec’s best musicians, gave a rousing performance at the University of Washington. From left, Éric Beaudry, André Brunet, and Pierre-Luc Dupuis.

For lovers of Canadian music, the first weekend in March brought two opportunities to celebrate the melodies of neo-traditional and Celtic Canadian music, with a lecture by De Temps Antan member, Éric Beaudry, followed by a performance by De Temps Antan on Friday, March 6, and with a workshop session about Celtic music in Canada by Ethnomusicology graduate student Erin Maloney on Saturday, March 7.

Through a little luck and a lot of hard work and coordination by UW and Canadian Studies Center alumnus Devon Léger, De Temps Antan was able to visit the University of Washington for a few hours as they traveled from Port Townsend, Washinton to Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday. The group founded in 2003, travels internationally to perform traditional tunes from Québec.

Éric Beaudry, who plays the guitar, mandolin, and bouzouki for De Temps Antan, as well as with the esteemed La Bottine Souriante, has conducted extensive research into the musical past of his native region of Lanaudière. He spoke about his research, much of which involves the musical history of his own family, in a lecture, entitled, “Larecherche de la musique traditionelle dans la région de la Lanaudière.” (While Éric had originally planned to present français, he ended up speaking mostly in English for certain members of the audience, like myself, whose French is nonexistent.) Lanaudière is a rural area of Québec and is the heartland of traditional songs and dances. Éric’s research has uncovered many beautiful songs and tunes and has taken him throughout the province of Québec.

Following Éric’s lecture, De Temps Antan members André Brunet and Pierre-Luc Dupuis joined him at the front of the Burke Room in the Burke Museum. They gave, in the words of Devon L´ger, one of their “best performances” ever, and the museum staff outside the room were entreated by visitors and employees alike to throw open the doors so that all could hear.

André Brunet, recently voted the best fiddler in Canada at the Canadian Grandmasters Fiddling Association 2008 Championship and the first Québécois to ever receive this honor, played the fiddle while using a “stomp board,” at times simultaneously playing the fiddle, performing percussion with his feet, and singing. Pierre-Luc Dupuis, who plays the accordion and harmonica for De Temps Antan and who was also a member of La Bottine Souriante until last year, never had time to catch his breath while performing, as he switched between accordion and harmonica frequently during the performance, singing in between.

The trio were encored at the end of their performance, and one woman requested that they play the “Toothfairy Song” for her granddaughter. The tune named as such after André’s son came into a De Temps Antan practice session holding a tooth that had just fallen out, was a sweet melody that was a fitting end to the lively performance that De Temps Antan gave.

The next morning, on March 7, the annual all-day workshop for educators, K-8 Arts Mosaic: Movement and Music Across the Curriculum, was held, introducing methods for bringing music and dance into the classroom. The Canadian session of the workshop, entitled, “Celtic Music in the New World,” and conducted by graduate student Erin Maloney, joined other sessions on such varied topics as Latin Caribbean rhythms and dance, Bosnian fold dance, Japanese Taiko drumming, and Indonesian masks and dance.

During her session, Erin explored the background and evolution of Celtic music as it traveled from Europe to North America, incorporating elements of jazz and traditional Québécois music with French roots. Erin also looked at the phenomenon of Celtic music in the “New Age” genre, with examples such as Irish musician Enya and Canadian musician Loreena McKennitt, which demonstrated how Celtic music has evolved differently on each side of the Atlantic.

Erin further expanded on the progression of Celtic music in North America by demonstrating how Celtic music has developed unique, regional differences in Québec, Prince Edward’s Island, Cape Breton, and Western Canada with sound clips from La Bottine Souriante, Natalie MacMaster, and others. Educators attending Erin’s session requested a copy of her powerpoint presentation, which will be posted on the Canadian Studies Center website in the near future.

These projects were supported, in part, by funding from a Canadian Studies Center Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and by the Canadian Studies Center Title VI Grant, International Education Programs Service, Us Department of Education