Silence and Music
Who: Vancouver Cantata Singers
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When: Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver
Tickets and info: vancouvercantatasingers.com
Breathe in Hope
Who: Chor Leoni
When: Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 11, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: St. Andrew’s-Wesley United, Vancouver
Tickets and info: chorleoni.org
The Light of Hope Returning
Who: Elektra Women’s Choir
When: Nov. 26 & 27 7:30 p.m.
Where: Pacific Spirit United Church, Vancouver
Tickets and info: elektra.ca
November is not the conventional time to begin a performance season, but this is no ordinary season. Three prominent local choirs, the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, and the Elektra Women’s Choir, have been singing all fall, and are about to share music with audiences in live performances.
These groups are reverting to previously defined ideas about the seasonal timing of choral events. More than other classical music organizations, choirs tend to reflect religious holidays in winter and spring. But in the moving beyond Christmas and Easter, many ensembles have established their own special days. For example, Chor Leoni decided years ago that Remembrance Day was an occasion crying out for music, often of a meditative or consoling nature, for men’s voices.
The Vancouver Cantata Singers doesn’t do a Remembrance Day program, but it also realized that the darkening days of Vancouver’s gloomiest month demand the musical equivalent of comfort food. Its first live-audience event takes this tradition into account and adds music especially chosen for this particular November. The choir will sing works by Ruth Watson Henderson, Jaako Mäntyjärvi, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Ēriks Ešenvalds, Nov. 6 at Christ Church Cathedral.
Chor Leoni’s Breath in Hope on Nov. 10 and 11 is that ensemble’s latest Remembrance Day concert. With guests Tina Change on piano, Katherine Evans on trumpet, Tim Woodford on organ, and, on opening night, a post-concert talkback hosted by Rick Cluff, there’s a lot on offer. The highlight is the premiere of six new commissioned works. And if that isn’t sufficient reason, this will be our first chance to check out the newly refurbished St. Andrew’s Wesley Church and to hear Woodford, its new organist.
“While Chor Leoni has stayed active during the pandemic, the true magic we have with one another, and our beloved audience comes when we can excite shared air as a united voice,” says Erick Lichte, Chor Leoni’s artistic director. “When we are together singing, you can feel the compressions and rarefactions of the sound across your body. The sound of a live choir can bridge the voids between us, permeate our hearts, and make both singers and listeners feel less alone.”
Elektra Women’s Choir has long made the start of Advent a major event. This year, a late November date manages to fuse the Advent idea of preparation with our need for self-care.
“The Light of Hope Returning adds to the centuries-old mid-winter tradition of the festive concerts, pageants, carolling parties, and services by which the community marks the year, raises spirits, renews bonds, and re-centres priorities,” says Elektra’s director, Morna Edmundson.
“Shawn Kirchner’s title work includes settings of traditional carols and songs alongside an equal number of original compositions. It’s an exploration of the eternal oppositions that keep the wheels of the world turning: light and dark, life and death, heat and cold, new and old. Eventually we witness the rebirth of light at the hour of greatest darkness. Through that we find our hope again.”
Elektra’s program has a visual extra in video artwork by Syrian-American artist Kevork Mourad.