Music Niagara Festival is presenting its first ChoralFest this fall, featuring nine choirs and eight concerts over 10 days, Nov. 16 to 25.
Music Niagara Artistic Director Atis Bankas explains the impetus behind ChoralFest: “I have seen first hand how audiences love and appreciate choral music. The emotional impact of collective singing is powerful. It lifts our spirits and gives us an opportunity to raise our voices in celebration of some of the finest music ever made.”
The series launches Nov. 16 with one of the greatest choirs in the world, the internationally acclaimed Elmer Iseler Singers. Conductor Lydia Adams says this concert differs from past appearances.
“The choir will be singing a program of music that will give you joy and can also move you to tears. It will include the moving Hallelujah by Canadian icon Leonard Cohen, but also Maritime Canadian Folk Songs,” says Adams.
“We will sing a simple and beautiful Mi’kmaq chant of welcome – a Gathering Song. The voices are spread around the Mennonite church and they evoke a forest setting with the chant at the centre of the work. A special number will be a stunning work by Canadian Eleanor Daley based on a poem by Newfoundland poet Grace Butler Difalco called One Fleeting Moment.”
“There are many new works in the program including a group of well-known oratorio choruses, says Adams, including Carmina Burana (O Fortuna), the Mozart Requiem (Dies Irae) and The Creation of Joseph Haydn (The Heavens are Telling).
“Along with pianist Shawn Grenke, we will perform music by the great choral master Healey Willan, and works by W. A. Mozart and the stunningly beautiful ‘An die Musik’ by Franz Schubert. We’ll end the program with Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah and encourage the audience to sing along.”
Highlighting the rest of the ChoralFest program, Bankas, says, “singing is one of the very first musical experiences we carry in our memory from childhood, and we are featuring the wonderful Hamilton Children’s Choir, and the Celaya Conservatory Children’s Choir from Mexico. Our program is ethnically diverse and includes the Ukrainian Vesnivka Choir, and the Toronto Lithuanian chorus Volunge. These choirs entertain and bring hundreds of years of singing traditions along with them.”
ChoralFest also features the spectacular all male choir, Victoria Scholars; Niagara’s Avanti Chamber Singers; the Laura Secord Concert Choir, a local treasure; and a glorious Sing-Along-Messiah with the Orchestra of St. Mark’s and The Messiah Chorus conducted by Mervin Fick.
Let’s sing together at Music Niagara’s ChoralFest.
Tickets are available at musicniagara.org or at the Shaw Festival Box office 905-468-2172.