La Nef presents Baratins
d’marins at Dollard Library

The group performed rousing sea chanties on authentic instruments of the day

By Byron Toben

December 7, 2023

This review is dedicated to the memory of Ann Fitzgerald Rajan (details at the end of the article).

The popular La Nef musical group recently staged a rousing Baratins d’Marin (Sea Shanties) of Quebec and France origin at the Dollard-Des-Ormeaux Library’s Cultural Friday on December 1. The concert hall attracted about 80 viewers to listen to these sailor “call and response” work songs from earlier centuries. Accordingly, several of the six performers used authentic musical instruments of the day.

La Nef

Pierre-Alexandre Saint-Yves blew both flutes and the chalumeau, an 18th-century predecessor to the higher-pitched clarinet of today. Sean Dagher fingered the cittern, a 17th century comparable to the lute with some similarities to today’s mandolin and banjo. Eric Breton beat on the percussions while Amanda Keesmaat handled the cello. Two violins were fiddled, one by Alexander Kehler and the other by Kate Bevan Baker. All six joined in on vocals in various combinations, depending upon the selection.

The dedication mentioned above

My attention was repeatedly called to La Nef by fan Ann Fitzgerald Rajan, who passed away all too young on December 11, 2021, but my schedule delayed seeing them until now.

Lachute-born and Bishops University grad Ann was one of the first three Quebecers I met upon my arrival here on New Year’s Day 1967. Though of slim build, she excelled in basketball, rowing, ice skating, dancing and loved music – especially Bob Dylan – and was a Westmount resident for many years.

I regret that I was unable to thank this quiet, pleasant, socially concerned person for her La Nef recommendation while she was here and pray that, if there is an afterlife, her spirit can become aware of this dedication.

Images: courtesy of La Nef

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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated websites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner, and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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