While TikTok may have taken the traditional sea shanties and turned them into an internet phenomenon, Vancouver’s Chor Leoni Men’s Choir and Montréal’s La Nef are taking them to a whole new level with Shanties!, a free digital concert premiering online March 6.
“Little did we know in February 2020 that we would be performing and recording our final concert of the year,” says Chor Leoni artistic director Erick Lichte. “We also had no idea that, one year later, these shanties would be the centre of a worldwide musical craze.”
The TikTok sea shanty craze began in December last year when Scottish singer Nathan Evans uploaded a video of himself singing The Scotsman and followed up shortly after with the 19th-century New Zealand shanty, The Wellerman. From there, #ShantyTok exploded as more and more users uploaded their own shanties to the social media platform.
Describing the sea songs as “buoyant, driving and devilishly catchy,” Lichte draws parallels of these musical stories of travel, adventure and missing loved ones to our lives in 2021.
“It is no wonder to me that shanties have become the musical genre of the year. We feel honoured to have had the chance to bring these sea songs beyond TikTok and onto the concert stage with La Nef. We are even more thrilled to share these songs of far-off travel with homebound people across Canada and the world.”
Joining Chor Leoni are musicians from the Montreal-based ensemble La Nef who recorded many of these same sea shanties for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed game series. These soundtracks began the sea shanty craze back in 2012, and La Nef has been touring this program ever since.
“It is a great joy for me to relive the collaboration with Chor Leoni through this digital concert,” says La Nef’s Seán Dagher. “I’m excited that so many more people will get to enjoy it, and I can’t wait to share these new choral versions of the sea songs and shanties with a wider audience.”
Originally presented in February 2020 at the Chan Centre by Early Music Vancouver, Shanties! was captured in high definition to bring the concert into homes worldwide.
The free digital concert will premiere on March 6 and be available to watch online until March 14. Visit chorleoni.org for more information and to reserve your free digital tickets.