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Volume 18 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2013

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Pax Christi

Pax Christi ChoraleStephanie Martin, Artistic Director2013 -14 SeasonSubscribe to 3 choral concerts that honour traditionand express fresh perspectivesGreat Canadian HymnCompetition IISunday October 6, 3:00pmWinners of the 2013 Hymn CompetitionA Frosty Christmas Evewith soloists Shannon Mercer and Trevor BowesSaturday, November 30, 7:30pmSunday, December 1, 3:00pmMystery of Bethlehem Healey WillanIn Terra Pax Gerald Finziconcert performance of Verdi’s Aida; and on August 15 the festival’sgrand finale is Mahler’s Symphony of A Thousand, which is really anoratorio for choir and soloists.On July 28 the Hart House Singers perform “The REAL Glee:Songs made famous by Yale, Harvard and Hart House Glee Clubs.”Glees — part songs for small ensembles — have been around forcenturies. The modern high school glee club is a mixture of standardchoir and show choir, a kind of choreographed choir/music theatrehybrid. But up to the middle of the 20th century, glee club musicwas a collegiate phenomenon with a particular aesthetic and style. Itcombined folk songs, school songs, 19th century parlour music andarchaic sounding Latin lyrics in a manner that has almost disappeared.This concert — which will also feature modern songs that might bemore familiar to the Glee television audience — is a chance to revisitand enjoy this charming repertoire.The Elmer Iseler Singers appear in Parry Sound at the Festival ofthe Sound on July 18, in a mixed concert of popular Canadian musicthat includes Srul Irving Glick’s The Hour Has Come. This tuneful andaccessible piece, premiered by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1985,has become something of a Canadian choral standard. The TorontoMendelssohn Choir also appears at the festival on August 11, singingOrff’s Carmina Burana.Speaking of unconventional locations, the Westben Festival (variousdates between June 8 and August 4) takes place in Campbellford,which is in the mid-Ontario region of Northumberland County. Allthe concerts take place at the Westben Barn. Westben Youth and TeenChoruses will be taking part in a version of Bizet’s Carmen July 4 to 7,a concert of selections from Broadway musicals June 9 and a performanceof Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy June 29.That’s all, folks. Enjoy the music and have a great summer!Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at choralscene@thewholenote.com.Visit his website at benjaminstein.ca.Passion and Peacewith special guests True North BrassSunday, April 27, 3:00pmMissa Salve Regina LanglaisMesse Basse FauréThe Peaceable KingdomRandall ThompsonAll concerts are at Grace Church on-the-Hill, Torontopaxchristichorale.orgboxoffi ce.paxchristichorale@gmail.com(416) 491-854224 | June 7 – September 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | Art of SongThe Songs ofRobert BurnsHans de GrootRobert burns was not a musician but he liked music; he wasespecially fond of traditional Scottish airs. He wrote severaltimes that his main goal in writing texts for them was to preservethe music. After Burns’ death, that process was reversed by composerslike Schumann and Loewe, who wrote new settings for Burns’ texts.More recently, Benjamin Britten did soin A Birthday Hansel, a song cycleVirginia Hatfield.Robbie Burns.beautifully performed at theRoyal Conservatory on April 14by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon andharpist Ingrid Bauer.The relation between text and music inBurns is actually more complicated than his own statements wouldsuggest. O My Love is Like a Red Red Rose was first published byPietro Urbani, an Italian musician active in Scotland. Burns gavehim the words of the song and essentially told him to use them ashe saw fit. Urbani then came up with his own composition, an elaboratesetting featuring two violins, viola and harpsichord, with aninstrumental introduction and with the notation “Largo con MoltaEspressione.” James Johnson republished the song in 1797 and usedthe tune that Burns had himself suggested, Major Graham. Thenin 1821, long after Burns’ death, Robert Archibald Smith proposedan alternative tune, Low Down in the Broom. It is that tune that isnow generally used. The case of Auld Lang Syne is different but alsocomplicated. Burns wrote, in a letter, that he “took it down,” that is tosay he took the words down, from an old man’s performance. Johnsonpublished it in 1796 to an old tune, but two years earlier Burns hadalready written to another publisher, George Thomson, that he did notlike that tune; he added that there was another, which “you may hearas a Scottish country dance.” It is that other tune that everyone nowknows. It is clear then that in some cases Burns wrote, or wrote down,the texts first and then looked for a traditional melody that he likedand that fit metrically.Several Toronto musicians sing Scottish songs. Lorna Macdonaldhas done so in a number of her recitals, Allyson McHardy included aset in a recent concert and there is a fine performance of Burns songson an ATMA CD by Meredith Hall with Ensemble La Nef. There willbe another chance to hear songs by Burns in a concert entitled “TheStar of Robbie Burns,” with Virginia Hatfield, soprano, and BenjaminCovey, baritone at the Church of the Redeemer, June 7. R.H. Thomsonwill narrate Burns’s life, while the second half of the concert willfeature songs from the musical Brigadoon. The pianist is MelodyMcShane. And just in case that is not enough, the ticket price includestea and shortbread. The concert will be repeated at the Festival of theSound at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, ParrySound, but with a different soprano, Charlotte Corwin. A differentBurns/Brigadoon concert will be given at the Westben Festival inCampbellford with Donna Bennett, soprano, Colin Ainsworth, tenor,and Brian Finley, piano, July 13. You will also be able to hear Burns’songs Ae Fond Kiss and Auld Lang Syne in a concert titled “A CelticHigh Tea” at St. John’s Church, Ancaster, August 11.Virginia Hatfield comes from Campbellford and began her vocalstudies in her early teens with Donna Bennett. Subsequently shestudied at the University of Toronto, first as an undergraduate at theFaculty of Music and then as a graduate student at the Opera School.She has been a member of the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian OperaCompany and she has sung in a number of recent operas and concertsin Ontario: Sokolović’s Svadba-Wedding for Queen of Puddings,Handel’s Orlando for Opera in Concert, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishersin Hamilton and, most recently, the final concert of the AldeburghConnection (in which she also sang a Burns song, Afton Water, in thesetting by Britten). This summer she will be part of an Opera Galaat the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, July 20, with GabriellePrata, mezzo, Mark DuBois and David Pomeroy, tenors, and PeterMcGillivray, baritone, andshe will be singing Broadwaysongs at the Westben Festivalin Campbellford with BrettPolegato and James Levesque,baritones, July 25 to 28; in thefall she will repeat her role inSvadba in Philadelphia, andnext February she will singthe Naiad in Richard Strauss’sAriadne auf Naxos for PacificPhilippe Sly.Opera Victoria.I first heard BenjaminCovey in the role of Pluto inMonteverdi’s Il ballo delle ingrate (Toronto Masque Theatre). The partgoes down to a low E-flat and I was pleased that the company hadHATFIELD: SHALAN&PAULthewholenote.com June 7 – September 7, 2013 | 25

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