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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Chor Leoni sets sail with Ensemble La Nef for The Return Voyage

Vancouver's Chor Leoni and Montreal's Ensemble La Nef perform a night of nautical songs on February 16 and 17 at St. Andrew's-Wesley United in downtown Vancouver.

Last seen together in 2020, Vancouver’s Chor Leoni and Montreal’s Ensemble La Nef are setting sail once again together for The Return Voyage, for a night of nautical songs on February 16 and 17 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United in downtown Vancouver.

Chor Leoni and La Nef are a match made in heaven. – Erick Lichte

The concert features arrangements from Shantyman Seán Dagher, who leads the seven members of La Nef alongside more than 60 voices of Choir Leoni on a rollicking voyage of high-seas harmonies.

“Chor Leoni and La Nef are a match made in heaven,” says Erick Lichte, artistic director of Chor Leoni. “The niche expertise and technical mastery of La Nef combine with Chor Leoni’s passion and soaring sound, resulting in a musical experience as powerful and refreshing as ocean waves.”

Considering their first collaboration in February 2020 with Sea Songs and Shanties as one of the best concerts in our choir’s history, Lichte is thrilled for the opportunity to reunite four years later, nearly to the day.

With titles such as Haul on the Bowline and Leave Her, Johnny, shanties are a curious form of music where the individual songs may be unfamiliar – but the form is instantly recognizable. In the early days of the pandemic, the form rose to prominence when a Scottish postal worker singing Wellerman went viral on TikTok.

The players and singers of La Nef have long taken an interest in these folk songs, which have largely been passed down through the oral tradition and rarely set in writing. They are well-positioned to explore such repertoire and have developed a large body of work around it. Today, their expertise is such that the ensemble was approached to contribute their voices and songs to the soundtracks for three iterations in the historically-set Assassin’s Creed video game series.

The 75-minute program is arranged by La Nef’s Dagher, whose renditions of sea shanties and other songs have been streamed more than 70 million times through his Shanty of the Week series and channels. As Dagher sings and plays cittern, a Renaissance-era member of the mandolin family, the members of La Nef will join in on Irish bodhrán, bouzoukis, penny whistle, and more, accompanied by the voices of Chor Leoni.

The Return Voyage plays at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United (1022 Nelson St, Vancouver on February 16 & 17. Visit for tickets and information.

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