By Amy Jones

My first thought upon arriving at the TBSO’s Latin American Beat performance on Friday, February 8 was that it was a shame, given the evening’s theme, that there was no room for dancing. The Italian Cultural Centre—a gorgeous venue—has a dance floor that is usually more than ample, but in this case was packed with chairs to accommodate the TBSO’s sold-out crowd. As if he could read my mind, conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser provided a solution in his opening address, demonstrating, in his charming, affable way, several different “chair dancing” moves that the audience could try out.

Latin American Beat is the second in the TBSO’s 2012-2013 Cabaret Series, which features guest artists from the Thunder Bay music community—in this case, Flamenco Caravan members Susanna DiGuiseppe and Tony Agostino (with percussion accompaniment by Jim Differ), and young flamenco guitarist Matt Sellick. The programme consisted of a wide array of songs from different parts of Latin America, with Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story Highlights,” the quick and spunky “O Pato,” and Flamenco Caravan’s own “Echoes” being obvious audience favourites.

DiGuiseppe’s voice—sweet and ethereal in the upper register, sultry and smoky in the lower register,and with a powerhouse middle register that could blow off even the vaulted roof of the Italian Cultural Centre—combined with the sizzling flamenco guitar and the lush sounds of the TBSO, was truly magnificent, especially on the closing number, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” And although few of us actually executed any of Bartholomew-Poyser’s chair dancing moves during the performance, I can attest to the fact that at least one audience member tried some out in her car on the way home.