Friday, July 31, 2009

Sounds in the Sound

I've been lax when it comes to blogging, and I apologize for that. No excuses. Except that I am the biggest procrastinator in the world. So, with that out of the way, on to the blog.

This Tuesday just past, I took my mom up to a concert in Parry Sound. They have this Festival of the Sound every year, it's a two week long festival of all sorts of music. (well, not all sorts, really. There's no rock, or metal, or pop. Classical, jazz, choral, that kind of thing.)(no rap either)

Anyway, I learned that the Elora Festival Singers were going to be performing at the Festival of the Sound, and I've really been wanting to hear them, since my choir, Serenata Choir sang with them a couple of years ago. They are truly amazing, and a joy to sing with. As a member of a choir, I love that kind of music, but i seldom take the opportunity to listen to it. I love the performance, but it's just so nice to be on the other side of the stage for once.

The concert we heard was in the Charles Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, which, because this is Canada, after all, also houses the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. The Stockey Centre is absolutely gorgeous, a really intimate setting, we were four rows from the front, and less than 20 feet from the stage. They even had seats on either side of the stage, but i liked where we were, in the centre, you get a more balanced sound.

Noel Edison is the Conductor of the Elora Festival Singers, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. He's a wonderful director, able to coax beautiful melodies and wonderful phrasing from any choir.

The performance started off with four pieces by Eric Whitacre. (BTW, he does not fit my stereotypical image of a choral composer.)Two of them i don't remember the names of, and they weren't in the program. "i thank You God for most this amazing day" is an ee cummings poem set to music. "Sleep" was the other piece. So beautifully done, they were halfway through the first piece before i realized that they were doing it a capella (without musical accompaniment)The balance of this choir was amazing. Their phrasing is exquisite, the tone is beautiful. Singing a capella is challenging, an inadequately trained choir can easily fall off pitch. Um..yeah.. not a problem for this group.

They also sang a piece by Paul Tiefenbach, "Nunc Dimittis", which was lovely and lyrical and beautiful.

One of my favourite pieces, "Remember", is a poem by Christina Rossetti, which is sung to the music composed by Steven Chatman. It's a gorgeous piece, which is meant to be sung a capella, which they did. They gave me goosebumps.. truly a beautiful, wonderful, lyrical piece, which they did absolute justice to.

The next part of the concert was their performance of a work by Tim Corlis, who was a Juno nominee (you have to scroll down a bit on that page). "Missa Pax" was commissioned for the occasion of the Elora Festival's, and the Festival of the Sound's 30th season. This work was absolutely amazing. I can't remember how many movements there were, I was lost in the music. There were beautiful, long sustained notes from the women, gorgeous low tones from the men, and such wonderful mixtures of everything. The entries were clean, the ends of phrases were exact. It was beautiful. James Campbell, the artistic director of the Festival, accompanied the choir in that work, on the clarinet. I have to say, i was a little nervous about that. The clarinet has never been my favourite instrument. Well, apparently i've just never heard it played right. It was a beautiful addition to the work, absolutely lovely. He blended so well with the choir, that at times, i could almost not pick the sound of the clarinet out of the mixture.

I have only one negative thing to say about the whole concert. After the "Missa Pax", the audience stood up in appreciation. The program was perfect. It needed nothing else. I had the last note of the Missa Pax in my mind, and i could have died happy, right there. Then Mr. Edison led the choir in "So you want to write a fugue", by Glenn Gould. Now, this is a wonderful piece of music, its funny, its lovely to listen to, but i just so wanted that last note in my mind.

so... there it is.


Paul Michael Murphy said...

Is it just me or does the "the" in Festival of the Sound make it seem like a cooler festival than if the "the" weren't there?

It's like you guys had the sound and the rest of us had some cheap generic knock-off.

(Just so people don't think I'm an idiot, I realize that the sound probably refers to Parry Sound, just like we call Detroit "The D.")

Monica said...

lol, PMM. yeah, dude, we got THE sound, all right.

BJW said...

We have the Puget Sound around these parts, at least to the south, also known as THE sound. Which is funny, because just a couple days ago, there was also a concert on a barge in the inner harbor of Victoria (for bc day). They ended with the piece with the cannons, which I am drawing a huge blank on right now.

Anyways, enjoyed your post and am sympathetic to the procrastination too.

Monica said...

oh the piece with the cannons.... drawing a blank on that too... something by tchaikovsky (sp)