QW4RTZ: Pop Vocal Quartet, Rigour of Classical Musicians

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Montreal-based QW4RTZ is a new a cappella quartet that is making its name by sharing their passion for singing. Founded in 2010, the ­quartet now consists of Louis Alexandre Beauchemin, Philippe Courchesne Leboeuf, François ‘Fa.2’ Dubé and François Pothier Bouchard. They have a distinctive style, one that combines their classical background with a love of pop music, creating clever and ­original unaccompanied voice arrangements of the great ­standards of jazz, classical, and pop music. Their first album A cappella 101 came out in 2016 and was warmly received by critics.

Although they come across as having a ­relaxed and youthful vibe, the four singers are accomplished musicians and very serious about their craft; three of them completed studies in classical music.

A graduate of organ, orchestra direction, and counterpoint at the Conservatoire de Trois-Rivières, François Pothier Bouchard is ­responsible for most of the musical arrangements. “Our ­classical background taught us discipline and a working method,” says Bouchard. “Yes, we do pop music and it looks improvised and fun, but everything is written and perfectly calculated. To be concentrated and rehearsed for hours until we get it perfect. It’s more associated with classical than with pop music, where there is more space for improvisation.”

Louis Alexandre Beauchemin, who is ­responsible for performing many of the high singing parts and the beat-boxing, adds, ­“Obviously it’s very important to study music ­formally. However, it’s also important to look forward and not forget that there is a life after university, and one must also have a plan.”

And a plan they had. They ­managed their growing popularity while being full-time music students. “A lot of students come out of university with their diploma in the pocket and must face a reality that they are not prepared for,” says Philippe Courchesne Leboeuf, who holds a ­Masters ­degree in classical singing from the ­University of ­Ottawa. “We already had an ­entrepreneurial desire when we were studying. School was a place that gave us the tools to be able to ­realize our project with more ­efficiency. I look at our working rhythm — which is ­monstrous by the way — and the speed at which we chain different projects. I think that we wouldn’t be capable of it if we ­didn’t have a ­degree in music. Don’t get me wrong, there are many ­people that do exceptional careers ­without having to go to ­university. However, ‘live on the spot’ and the capacity for writing and analyzing quickly are really ­important, as well as ­sight-reading, to be able to work in an environment where we have to accomplish lots of projects and fast.”

QW4RTZ will launch their new tour in ­Montreal with a show that promises to be ­musically and ­visually interesting, together with a touch of comedy.

Tour begins November 8, 2017, Theatre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, Montreal. www.qw4rtz.ca

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