Please join us on Friday, May 27, 2016, 8:00 pm at
St. Thomas’s Anglican Church 383 Huron Street, Toronto for
Stories of Peace and Justice
Stories of Peace and Justice closes the season with inspiring music ranging from Bach’s Dona Nobis Pacem to Peter Togni’s Ave Verum. Rupert Lang’s serene L’Agneau de Dieu for double choir contrasts with Ruth Watson Henderson’s lively To Everything there is a Season. Special guests, the DaCapo Chamber Choir of Kitchener and their conductor, Leonard Enns, join us to perform Frank Martin’s Mass for double choir. This program will also feature the winning work in Exultate’s composition competition for emerging composers living in Ontario, on a Canadian text.
Stories of Love & Longing features a variety of works on these themes. The humour of Sjolund’s Love Lost is balanced by myriad moods of Brahms’ Op. 52 Liebeslieder Waltzes, which will be presented in chamber music fashion, with a combination of quartets, soloists and choruses. Renaissance and contemporary settings of similar texts are paired: Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus and Enns’ Like as the Hart. Other works include Bissell’s A Song of Longing, Chatman’s Remember, and works by Britten and Mechem. Randall Stroope’s reflective Amor de mi Alma (You are the love of my soul) brings a gentle intensity to the program.
Here is a look into what goes on in the preparation of a piece for a concert. In this video, Hilary talks with Canada composer Eleanor Daley about her composition Ave maris stella, which we performed at our December 2015 concert. The choir is also seen rehearsing the piece.
As our concert on Friday nears, I am thinking of Sir David Wilcox, who passed away earlier this year.
Although in his nineties, it seemed (to me at least) he would live forever. For many singers, familiar with his Christmas Carols for Choirs books (“the green book and the orange book”), his arrangements of many Christmas carols became canonical, the standards, indeed a central part of the sound track of the Christmas season.
Heard so often in services such as the deeply moving Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols made famous in King’s College Chapel, and a staple of so many Christmas concerts worldwide, his beautiful, sensitive arrangements bring such joy; I grew up with them, and they are part of my own personal Christmas experience; without them the season for me would be diminished, and just a little bit empty.
At our concert on Friday, we (and you!) will be singing a few Christmas classics made magical by his deft arrangements. Sir David has passed, but his genius will always be part of Christmas, and in that sense he will live forever, as long as Christmas continues to be Christmas. We hope you will join us this Friday night for a small taste of how he made Christmas special.
Our winter concert is fast approaching! The evening of Friday December 4th will be a night of celebration, song, and festive stories from some of our members. Of course, no holiday concert would be complete without the inclusion of Christmas carols. We happen to have a few classics on our list that we can’t wait to share with you.
We are preparing a particularly beautiful arrangement by Robert B. Anderson of “The Huron Carol.” The a cappella harmonies, languid ‘Gloria’ opening, and pensiveness of the arrangement breathe new life into the old carol.
’Twas in the moon of wintertime
when all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead…
The carol Jesous Ahatonhia (“Jesus in Born”) was composed by St. Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit priest, in the 1640s. Brebeuf originally wrote the lyrics in the Huron (Wyandot) language, while he was stationed among the Huron people as a Christian missionary. He set the lyrics to an old French folk-tune, titled “Une Jeune Pucelle,” attempting to illustrate the message of Christmas in iconography that he thought would be familiar to the Huron people, whom he lived with for over twenty years. The English lyrics we know today were written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton, and not by Brebeuf, and are not a direct translation from the original Huron-Wyandot.
The song’s minor key and lowered seventh scale degree harness an ancient sound reminiscent of old church modes, and this quintessential dark sound sets the carol apart from most other festive Christmas repertoire. The carol retains a special place in Canadian heritage, for it has been well loved by the Huron people, French Canadians, as well as English Canadians in its near 400-year existence.