2013 was a step up from annus horribilis 2012.
My annual New Year’s Eve party usually involves Haggis and pagan rituals: a dark stranger, coins, whisky and coal. This year Fr Tay Moss blessed my house with the works, holy water and all.
During the infamous Toronto ice storm I lost power for two days. Thank goodness for Bruce Hill’s stubbornness! He insisted on installing a gas stove when we moved here in 1998, not for heating mind you, but for efficient cooking. Boiling up cinnamon spiced water filled the house with Christmas fragrance throughout the dark and chilly episode, while keeping the cats and me toasty warm.
2013 brought remembrances of loss. March 18 marked the first anniversary of Bruce Hill’s passing. Friends shared music, poetry, food and fellowship, and re-visited the Sing-in on June 12. November 24 was my first anniversary of leaving St. Mary Mag’s. After four remarkable years my best students at York University moved on to grad school so I miss them too. Friends and family had some difficult times. My brother Craig dealt with complicated surgery in Montreal. Other struggled with loss of family members, underemployment and general lousiness.
However, the year was not all bad. In the music arena things looked a lot rosier.
Pax Christi Chorale had a wonderful year: Handel’s Solomon in the Spring, the Great Canadian Hymn competition in the Fall and a Christmas concert that featured my composition Legend of the Bird. Our board of directors, choral scholars, assistant conductor Dan Norman, accompanist Simon Walker, and brilliant GM Jennifer Collins kept things ambitious and vital and we’ve lots to look forward to in the year to come.
Schola Magdalena collaborated with NUMUS and Ben Grossman and premiering two new works. We had great fun at a medieval tournament in Picton. Saddened to bid farewell to Julia Armstrong, a founding member of the group, we move forward this year with Merry-Anne Stuart, learning the sublime Machaut Messe de Notre Dame for performances in London, Toronto and Montreal.
Some amazing groups sang my music this year. And as I wake, in honour of Ruth Watson Henderson, premiered in Oshawa, and Portinari Nativity got several outings this Christmas. I was particularly moved by Ontario Youth Choir’s performance of Hear my prayer under Elroy Friesen’s direction. The Canadian Men’s Chorus premiered a piece and Voces Capituli of Antwerp sang my motets and masses on tour in Switzerland and Italy. Hilary Apfelstadt conducted Rise up my love with her University of Toronto choir. Menno Singers commissioned Ring out wild bells.
Chris & Rosemary Thackray, Ian Alexander & Marilyn Dalzell, along with my mother-in-law hosted adventures on Vancouver Island. Victoria’s Jazz Festival was thrilling especially hearing Herbie Hancock’s band jamming informally after the show at a local pub. I spent a week walking the English countryside with my sister Cori (she’s the poet) on our way from Rochester to Canterbury. We also saw some great Shakespeare with Hanno, whose book is now out – The Bible in Shakespeare. My dear friends Shawn and David sustained me spiritually and physically with their Monday night dinners. It was a privilege to share a holiday in Gloucester at the Three Choirs Festival with them, and to hear Roderick Williams sing my song When you are old. I’m thrilled that my parents Abner and Shirley will be making the trek to Worcester for the 2014 festival!
This year I discovered my brother Kevin Martin is a brilliant tax wiz. I discovered yoga classes at Novita my friendly local gym. I discovered the joys of gardening with my friend Lois Burkholder. And I discovered the importance of time – more than possessions or wealth, it’s a terribly valuable, intangible and powerful commodity.