April 21, 2021Print | PDF
Messiah is the 6th of Handel’s Oratorios, and at its debut received only modest reception. Handel, primarily a composer of Opera, was turning with greater and greater frequency to the Oratorio as the British grew to enjoy to the genre. Messiah is closely related to Opera in its structure, but there are no roles - No direct actions or conversations between singers, rather a selection of texts that are biblical in origin that create a narrative. It is well documented that sections of Messiah come from earlier works by Handel, but most of it is new composition. The entire work was completed in just 24 days, a monumental achievement. Despite this popularity, Messiah is a challenging sing, especially for choirs. Today we are presenting a block of choruses right in the middle of the Oratorio. We begin with the final movement of part One – His Yoke is Easy and continue through until All we like Sheep, omitting the only aria that splits up these choruses. In these sections, you will hear some of Handel’s most challenging writing for choir, which is a feat even for seasoned professional singers. The writing is virtuosic, employs wide ranges for each vocal part, and often includes whole bars of melismatic writing in each voice. The Messiah is nearly 300 years old, a landmark it will reach in 2041. For a work to endure in popularity for centuries is a sure sign that it sends a universal message of hope to the world. We wish you all the best for the summer, and hope that the upcoming years will be good to you all.
We had originally planned to present Only in Sleep using Jamulus for the Winter concert, but we were unable to make the technology work together at that time. We are pleased to try again in a different format. The soloist is Grace Ronan.
Composed in 1776, Mozart’s Mass in C Major, K258 is technically classified as a “Missa Brevis et solemnis” by music scholars. It is scored for SATB choir as well as SATB soloists and has earned the nickname “Piccolomini” because it is quite short compared to other pieces in this genre. Mozart was only 20 when he wrote this music and it is characterized by dotted rhythms, short fugal sections and classic terraced endings of phrases. Despite some slower movements/sections, the mood is buoyant throughout.
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite leaving the world at the young age of 31, he left with us a vast body of musical works, including 600 secular vocal works, seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music, and many pieces of piano and chamber music. This Mass in G, K.167 was composed in less than a week the year after Schubert's first mass was successfully performed at his home parish. The passages for the piece are
quite modest and straight-forward, characteristic of Schubert, as he is more interested in an overall devotional mood of a religious composition as opposed to individualistic romantic elements in his music. Notes by Annie Lee
La Nuit was written by Jean-Phillippe Rameau was a leading composer and theorist of the Baroque era. He supplanted Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and was a leading composer for the harpsichord alongside Couperin. The tune of La nuit comes from the opera Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) and was harmonized by Joseph Noyon (1888-1962). This music was made famous thanks to the film Les Choristes (2004). Nancy Grundhal,a conductor, composer and soloist from Minneapolis, arranged this for treble voices.
La Nuit / The Night, music by Jean-:Philippe Rameau
words by: Édouard Sciortino
O nuit, viens apporter a la Terre, O night, come bring to the earth
le calme enchantement de ton mystère, the calm enchantment of your mystery,
L’ombre qui l’escorte est si douce, The shadow which follows you is so sweet,
Si doux est le concert de tes voix So sweet is the harmony of your voice
chantant l’espêrance, singing of hope
Si grand est ton pouvoir, So great is your power,
transformant tout enrêve heureux. transforming all into happy dreams.
O nuit, oh! laisse encore a la Terre, O night, oh leave the earth again
le calme enchantement de ton mystère the calm enchantment of your mystery.
L’ombre qui l’escorte est si douce The shadow which follows you is so sweet,
est-il une beautê aussi belle que le rêve, Is it a loveliness as fair as the dream?
Est-il de vérité, plus douce que l’espérance. Is it truth sweeter than hope?
Theodore Morrison, composer of “Puisque tout Passe” from French Songs for Treble Voices, is Professor Emeritus at University of Michigan School of Music Theatre and Dance and began his professional career Baltimore’s Cathedral of the Incarnation. In 1967, he founded the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, which under his direction became one of the foremost community choral ensembles in the United States. He was director of choral music and conductor of the chamber orchestra at Peabody Conservatory of music from 1975 to 1978 and held a similar post at Smith College from 1981 to 1987. In 2001, Morrison introduced several new graduate courses in choral literature and score study at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he had taught since 1987. As a composer, Morrison’s music includes music for orchestra, chamber pieces, works for chorus and orchestra, three song cycles, and numerous smaller choral pieces.
Puisque tout passe / Since all things pass
Puisque tout passe, faisons Since all things must pass
la mêlodie passagére, a fleeting melody;
celle qui nous dêsaltêre, the one that assuages us
aura de nous raison. will be right for us.
Chantons ce qui nous quitte Let us sing about that which leaves us
avec amour et art: with love and art;
soyons plus vite let us be swifter
que le rapide départ. than the rapid departure.
Magnificat: Christine Donkin is a Canadian composer who specializes in writing music for chorales, orchestral compositions, music for students and educators. Christine Donkin wrote this for a ‘prayer labyrinth’ featuring a soloist and chorus that responds.
History: Based on a Biblical passage, this piece showcases Mary’s worry about making the correct decision. The background accompaniment for 10 parts is expected to reflect angels. Magnificat is hymn of praise and holiness from Mary. Throughout the piece, she rejoices in God’s light and His glory. She praises His grace and His choice to bless her as the mother of Jesus Christ.
The text ‘Magnificat anima mea Dominum et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo’, is repeated to emphasize her gratitude for the Lord and His faith in Israel. With this and the rest of the text, Mary’s prayer thanks the Lord for His mercy, His might, and His humility.
I made this image based on medieval illuminations of the Magnificat. The details are inspired by symbolism used in these illuminations and thought it would be fun to recreate it in a more contemporary design style (similar to how our piece is a contemporary-styled setting of the original canticle!) Notes by: Hannah McPherson
Notes on our process and how we collaborated as a group:
This piece is an improvisatory and imitative style that breathes and morphs as one with many individual parts. We, as a choir based our performance on the soloist’s (MacKenzie’s) performance, after discussing our ideas on the text. After that, we reflected on her performance to emulate a cohesive message as one. Daisy Kurelek, Hannah MacPherson, Hannah Piercey, Christina Rorai-McNeil, MacKenzie Sechi, Stephanie Suitor, Paula Turnbull
In Kat’s own words: A Painting aims to sonically depict aspects of visual art such as abstraction, texture and perspective. This calls listeners to devote their attention to factors such as texture and timbre rather than melody, harmony or traditional form to derive interest. It was composed for the Maureen Forrester Singers in 2014. Named as one of Canada's ‘hot 30 classical musicians under 30’ by the Canadian Broadcasting Company; composer, improviser, and vocalist Katerina Gimon's uniquely dynamic, poignant, and eclectic compositional style is rapidly gaining her a reputation as one of the most distinctive emerging voices in contemporary Canadian composition and beyond. Her music draws inspiration from myriad of influences — from Eastern European folk music to indie rock, as well as from her roots as a songwriter — and has been performed across Canada, the United States (notably, at Carnegie Hall), Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Katerina holds a Master of Music in Composition from the
University of British Columbia ('17) and an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in Composition and Improvisation from Wilfrid Laurier University ('15).
Words and music by Kat Gimon
Text: start before light for am the won’t I see a painting hold in vex time
first be the circle for plight can have my time
did somewhere going long steps moment or time
the other did one go where time before time after time
one did time go
Elvera Froese brings a wealth of experience and creativity to her work with choirs and voice students at Laurier. She directs the Maureen Forrester Singers and has directed Chapel Choir (2003-2014). As a vocal coach she instructs in introductory lyric diction and has taught vocal literature. She was co-director for the opera excerpts, coached opera students and as accompanist she collaborates with singers in recital, as well as the Canadian National Music Festival, the E-Gré Competition, Elora Festival and Vocal Festival, France.
Carolyn Neumann VanderBurgh is the conductor of the Laurier Concert Choir, the Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir and the WLU Alumni Choir. In the classroom, Carolyn is a sessional instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University for the Faculty of Music and an elementary music teacher for the Waterloo Region District School Board. She has also held leadership positions in the Kodály Society of Ontario and the Kodály Society of Canada. She has been a clinician at provincial, national, and international workshops and conferences. Carolyn’s academic background includes a Master of Arts in Music Education (Choral Concentration) from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Music from WLU.
A dynamic conductor hailed for “awe-inspiring” (Winnipeg Free Press) performances, John Wiens has appeared on stages across the world, pursuing an innovative path as a programmer known for an uncommonly wide repertoire. His conducting career has ranged from Belgium (University Chorus for L’Université Catholique de Louvain) to Morocco and across Canada. John has cemented his reputation as one of Canada’s finest chamber choir conductors. He is the artistic director and co-founder of Polycoro Chamber Choir, a co-curator of Camerata Nova, and Director of music at St. John’s Anglican Church, Elora. He is thrilled to be conducting the Laurier Singers this season.
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