SONG IS SPIRIT HEARD: DACAPO CHAMBER CHOIR

  • Church of St John the Evangelist 23 Water St N Kitchener, ON, N2H Canada
Photo by Heather Lee

Photo by Heather Lee

Sunday, June 8, 300 PM, Church of St. John the Evangelist, 23 Water St. N., Kitchener  ON

SONG IS SPIRIT HEARD: DACAPO CHAMBER CHOIR

Tickets: $25/15 available here.

The award-winning DaCapo Chamber Choir performs choral music written within the past decade by veteran and emerging Canadian composers, including outstanding compositions selected from entries to the choir’s annual NewWorks choral composition competition.

PROGRAM

Gloria                                                Tobin Stokes              2012

Song of Invocation                           Sheldon Rose            2012

Tabula Rasa                                      Don Macdonald         2010

When You are Old                            Patrick Murray           2010

Deux Poèmes de Paul Verlaine       Robert Ingari             2000

            Chanson d’Automne                        

            Soleils Couchants                

Le Pont Mirabeau                             Jeff Enns                     2011

 

~intermission~

 

The Searching Sings                         Murray Schafer         2008

Nocturne                                            Leonard Enns            2005

Black Riders                                       Iman Habibi               2008

This Evening of Our Lives                 Matthew Emery         2011

Our concert title, Song is Spirit Heard, is the concluding line of the poem by Rae Crossman, set to music by Murray Schafer for the DaCapo Chamber Choir. That composition is called The Searching Sings.

While it is thrilling for us to be performing music by Canada’s senior statesman of composition, we are equally proud of the fact that our concert today includes top-drawer works by some of our young and emerging composers. These works have come to us largely via DaCapo’s annual NewWorks choral composition competition. Our mission, as a choir championing the best of recent and contemporary choral music, is to encourage and unearth relevant, fresh, and high quality works for chamber choir. Today we bring you a clutch of these, all by Canadian composers.

Our performance season consists of three annual concerts in Kitchener- Waterloo: once in the fall around Remembrance Day, a mid-winter, and a spring concert. In addition, the choir performs on an ad hoc basis at other events.

The choir has released two CDs, the award-winning ShadowLand (winner of the 2010 ACCC’s National Choral Recording of the Year award, including the Juno-nominated Nocturne by Leonard Enns) and STILL (2004). The choir has also appeared on several other recordings, including notes towards; DaCapo’s performance on that disc helped garner a Juno nomination for the title work, Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written, by Timothy Corlis.

Conductor and composer Leonard Enns is the founding director of the DaCapo Chamber Choir, and Professor Emeritus in the Music Department at Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo. He has released six CDs with the Conrad Grebel Chapel Choir over the past fifteen years and two CDs with DaCapo – including the ACC Choral Recording of the Year, Shadowland. Also active as composer, Enns has been honoured with a 2010 JUNO nomination for his Nocturne, as Classical Composition of the Year. Last month Newfoundland’s Quintessential Voices premiered his As on Wings, commissioned by the ensemble, at Carnegie Hall.

Choir Members:

Tenor:  Thomas Brown, Curtis Dueck, Marcus Kraemer, Michael Lee-Poy, Nathan Martin

Bass:  Donny Cheung, Keith Hagerman, Stephen Horst, Phil Klassen-Rempel, Bill Labron

Soprano:  Laura Ashfield Corey,  Cotter Linforth, Sara Martin, Laura McConachie, Laurel O’Gorman, Jennie Wiebe

Alto:  Theresa Bauer, Emily Berg, Christine Cousins, Sarah Flatt, Susan Schwartzentruber

Notes written by L. Enns

Gloria! (2012) —Tobin Stokes (Victoria, BC)
Stokes’ Gloria! came to us via the DaCapo NewWorks choral composition competition. While there are likely thousands of settings of the Mass texts (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus), this one retains a freshness and vigour, fairly bursting through the bar lines with its asymmetrical rhythms. We are delighted to hear Stokes’ voice as part of an emerging group of very talented, young Canadian composers.

Song of Invocation (2012) —Sheldon Rose (Toronto, ON)
This is the winning work of our 2012 DaCapo NewWorks choral composition competition. Here we have a bittersweet expression of that tug between lament and hope – I will go, but I shall not go with pain, grief or sighs! One can’t help but also hear the countering voice of Dylan Thomas, to his father: Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light. We have a choice. Rose’s composition presents a gentle posture for the most part, but ends, as he describes it, with “fervent rapture.”

Tabula Rasa (2010) —Don Macdonald (Nelson, BC)
This was the first NewWorks winner in 2010, the inaugural year of the program. Macdonald has given us this note:
“Blank Slate” - This is the translation of the title. ...
Tabula Rasa was written immediately after a very intensive three-week period of writing music for film. In this calm after the storm I often just lay my fingers on the piano and try to remove all external stimuli from the creative process, to become a “blank slate”. This is music therapy for me. Each note, chord, rest is played purely for myself to enjoy the act of creation for creation’s sake. I wrote most of the notes for this piece before the text was written, which is the reverse order for the creation of most choral works. For some reason the first few chords to me evoked a simple image of a mother and child. A quiet moment when the mother sees, as she has never seen, the potential of the precious life she holds in her arms. A silent acknowledgment of her child and every child as a “blank slate” with seemingly limitless potential. My wife was able to put this vision into words in the most eloquent manner. The grace and fluidity of the Spanish language is a fitting choice for such a moment.

When You are Old (2010) —Patrick Murray (Toronto, ON)
Patrick Murray originally came to us as a composer through DaCapo’s NewWorks competition - winning in 2011 with
The Echo. Having graduated with a music degree from University of Toronto, Murray is currently working as composer and conductor in Toronto.

Chanson d’automne (2000) —Robert Ingari (Sherbrooke, QC)
Robert Ingari is an associate professor and director of choral activities at Université de Sherbrooke, in Quebec.

Le Pont Mirabeau (2011) —Jeff Enns (Elmira, ON) LocalcomposerJeffEnnsisalong-timefriendofDaCapo’s. Thechoirhasperformedanumber

of his works, has premiered his I carry your heart and Moonset, and recorded his The Call (on Still) and Moonset (on ShadowLand).

The Searching Sings (2008) —R. Murray Schafer (Peterborough, ON)
Schafer’s music prods us to find the mystery in the visible, and hear the magic in the seemingly “natural” world around us. If one word could capture the centre of Schafer’s unique contribution

to our musical art, it might be “listen to the land”. His works celebrate nature, are inspired by our environment, and at times lament its suffering at our hands. The titles of Schafer’s compositions themselves are instructive: Music for Wilderness Lake; And Wolf shall Inherit the Moon; The Star Princess and the Waterlilies; Epitaph for Moonlight; Snowforms; and on and on. The song is there in our world, the music is there, we need to attend to it!

Crossman commissioned The Searching Sings for the DaCapo Chamber Choir. The premiere performance was in Kitchener in May 2009; it was also part of our 2009 award-winning ShadowLand recording.

KW poet Rae Crossman, who has a long history of collaboration with Schafer, considers the majesty of nature as compared with human abilities (“how can lungs thunder”), and the sensitivity and generosity of nature toward humans (“yet the howl of a wolf will answer the howl of a man”). Within this reality, it is our searching that becomes the song, a song that is leap between man and bird.

Nocturne (2005) —Leonard Enns (Waterloo, ON)
If the night brings with it memories and premonitions of loss and lament, it also is the storehouse of wonder, concord and potential. Shakespeare’s text (below) points that way. His star-studded sky has been slightly re-interpreted in sound here, in the direction of a Canadian night filled with northern lights that flow, pulsate, and glow. Still, the age-old lament persists: such harmony is in us, but whilst we leave we can’t seem to hear it; this tone-deafness characterizes the many journeys into political, spiritual and cultural night that continue to mark and mar our world.

Black Riders (2008) —Iman Habibi (Vancouver, BC)
Iranian-Canadian Iman Habibi, born in the decade ushered in by the Iranian Revolution, writes of—and out of—a complex history. He appropriates the century-old words of the American author, Stephen Crane (known especially for
The Red Badge of Courage) and turns them into an expression of the terror, fear and anxiety experienced in the nighttime of an invasion. The work is not specific, but the expression is true.

Of Black Riders Habibi has written: The poem to which the music is set is part of a larger collection of 68 short poems by Stephen Crane written in 1895...this composition announces the arrival of black riders, portraying it by playing with the sound of the words. It has a dark and gloomy color, and holds extreme anxiety inside.

This Evening of Our Life (2011) —Matthew Emery (Vancouver, BC)
Matthew Emery, originally from London, Ontario, is currently studying composition at University of British Columbia with Stephen Chatman. This composition, though not the winner, was a highly ranked submission to the 2011 NewWorks competition. It is an exquisite work, evincing a nostalgia, poignant lament, and gentle sorrow through music that belies the youth of the composer. Also, though, and always, there is hope at the end of the evening song.

The DaCapo Chamber Choir was founded in 1998 under the direction of Leonard Enns. The mission of the choir is to identify, study, rehearse, and present in public performance and recordings, the outstanding choral chamber works of the past 100 years and to champion musicofCanadianandlocalcomposers. In2011, DaCapo was awarded first place in the Association of Canadian Choral Communities’ (ACCC) National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs in the Contemporary Choral Music category. The choir also received 2nd place in the Chamber Choir category.