Meghan Quinlan grew up singing in the Hamilton Children’s Choir, and later conducted the choir’s youth ensemble. With the support of a Canada Council for the Arts grant, she studied conducting in Oslo, Norway, and then returned to Oslo to direct the chamber choir Canticum. She is currently finishing a doctorate in music at the University of Oxford, funded jointly by the Clarendon fund, SSHRC, and Merton College. She conducts the Choir of Wolfson College, Oxford, and is Associate Conductor of the award-winning chamber choir Sansara. She is a former conducting scholar of Schola Cantorum of Oxford and is this year’s recipient of the Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts.
La belle se promène
arr Meghan Quinlan
SSAA – CP 1527 – 4:10
This Canadian folksong tells of the love between a beautiful women and her young sailor. Meghan gives a skillful and intriguing approach to the plaintive Acadian dorian melody.
La belle se promène tells the story of an encounter between a beautiful girl and a sailor on the banks of a river. Originally a French folk song—an alternative lyric places the strangers’ meeting on the Loire river—it was brought to Canada by French settlers, where it was absorbed and adapted into Acadian culture. This arrangement casts the story in a dream-like atmosphere: its opening evokes the banks of a more solitary river, hidden away in green forests. Moving from the charged stillness of the girl’s encounter with nature to the thrill of meeting a stranger—and sailing away with him—the arrangement provides a full palette of expressive colours. In order to join the sailor on his journey, the girl asks him to teach her the song he’s singing. For the girl, singing is a means of both getting to know and of escaping into the unknown, leaving her past life behind like a dream.