Renowned vocalist returns to Cranbrook for intimate show

Noémi Kiss to perform at Centre 64, Royal Alexandra Hall with guitarist Rita Deane

Noémi Kiss

Noémi Kiss

Barry Coulter

A renowned vocalist from the West Kootenay is bringing her art back to the East Kootenay with a series of concerts in the area.

Hungarian vocalist Noémi Kiss was last seen and heard, singing “Stella Natalis” with the Symphony of the Kootenays — and backed by a hundred-voice choir — at the Key City Theatre in December. But her coming performances will be markedly different.

On Saturday, Jan. 30, at Centre 64 in Kimberley, and on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the at the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook, Kiss and Nelson classical guitarist Rita Deane will perform a concert of love songs, in a variety of languages, that bridges the centuries.

Noémi Kiss (pronounced Kish) spoke to the Townsman from Nelson, about the different approaches and rewards in performing with a symphony versus with a solo accompanist in a small hall, about language and song, and other musical matters.

“It’s wonderful to sing with a big orchestra, and it’s a great opportunity every time,” Kiss said. “But I personally love the intimacy of having one instrument, whether it’s a piano or a guitar. I really enjoy these projects.

“One beautiful thing about it is when you do something like that you choose your own repertoire. Often when you work with a big orchestra, it’s some big project that you’re asked to do.”

The Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook, with it’s renowned acoustics, is in many ways a perfect venue for Kiss.

“I really enjoy the ability to show the small things — with one instrument in a hall like (the Royal Alexandra) you can really be as quiet as you like, and the audience can hear the small nuances,” she said.

“Especially with the repertoire that we chose, the music serves the poetry. So every single word can be heard, and there’s lots of colours you can apply.”

Pictured: Noémi Kiss (left) and Rita Deane

Born in Hungary, Noémi Kiss studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She has performed and recorded around the world. She currently resides in Argenta, and teaches in Nelson.

The Kiss-Deane concert will include a wide range of songs from early classical to contemporary, including works by Dowland, Sor, Giuliani, Rodrigo, Britten, Villa-Lobos, Sieber, as well as contemporary love songs and folk songs from around the world.

The repertoire encompasses a wide variety of languages.

“Every language has it’s own difficulties and beauties,” Kiss said. “Italian would surely be one of the nicest languages to sing in — the vowels are so open and the consonants are easy, it’s just a joy to sing in Italian.

“But I do love singing in German as well — which is actually the only language we’re not including in the program. We’ll be doing Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian — which is also really nice for me. We’ll be doing a few folk songs and there’ll be a Hungarian folk song thrown in there. The arrangement was written by Rita. For me that’s especially wonderful because it brings out a whole different side of me, singing in Hungarian — just a little bit more vulnerable because it’s my mother tongue. It’s an added bonus for me.”

Kiss and Deane got together to look through the centuries for their repertoire.

“Mostly, we looked through what’s there for voice and guitar. And the selection ended up mostly 20th century, with a little bit of earlier stuff like late 19th century. And then we chose one John Dowland song, which is the earliest example of voice and lute. The book of songs that he wrote was published in 1602.

“We also chose a contemporary American singer-songwriter Eva Cassidy, a popular singer who died in the 1990s. So that’s a bit of a cross-over, which I like to do.

“For me it just shows that we’re bridging centuries — with emotion, poetry and stories.”

Kiss and Deane’s four concerts are all funded by the Columbia Basin Trust. They take place Jan. 29 in Creston, Jan. 30 at Centre 64 in Kimberley, Feb. 5 in Fernie, and Feb. 6 at the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook.