I’ve almost recovered from an wonderful weekend in Victoria, seeing family and old friends, and hearing the premiere of “Alpha and Omega” sung beautifully by the cathedral choir, two skilled and very brave soloists, accompanied by three organists, including Michael Gormley. I felt as if a bit of history was unfolding before my eyes and ears – witnessing the installation of the first female Dean of Christ Church Cathedral. The stained glass artist Christopher Wallis was also present, and we visited his other windows at Government house, with a tour through the grand and entirely empty mansion after hours.
After our nail-bighting federal election, and an equally edge-of-seat baseball series between the Jays and that other team, it’s time for another busy October music weekend back home.
First of all there’s the big Pax Christi Chorale, concert, featuring our English guests from Gloucester cathedral. Here’s a superb chance for us to learn from the source about so much of the music we love. They will sing Byrd, Parry, Howells and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and we will all sing a grand finale together – Healey Willan’s “Gloria Deo.”
After the show, we are launching our new CD “Winter Nights.” It’s a CD entirely of my own compositions sung by Pax Christi Chorale, chamber choir and orchestra. It’s all new music, some of it published, some not, some of it written, tearfully, in a period when music was my sole salvation; some of it written, joyfully, in a golden age of singing; some of it written on retreat in an English convent thanks to my employer, York University. I can only begin to scratch the surface of thanks I need to offer to Emily Burgetz, Jennifer Collins, and Carol Ringer; to my accompanists, assistant conductors, choral scholars, chorale and chamber singers, players, supporters, listeners, designers, artists, sound engineers, mixers and masterers, who made this recording project happen.
‘Winter Nights’ is the central piece of the CD – a cantata that is intended to pair up with Benjamin Britten’s ‘St. Nicolas,’ scored for SATB choir, tenor soloists, strings, keyboard and percussion. The rest of the music is music mostly a cappella. There are a couple of songs for baritone and piano sung very beautifully by Michael Robert-Broder.
After that big show, Sunday brings a couple other events. The University of Toronto men’s and women’s choirs are performing three of my works at Grace Church on the Hill at 3:00 pm.
Then, late on Sunday night at St. Mary Magdalene’s , Schola Magdalena has a kind of underground event commemorating the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt. There’s a rumour that some of the Gloucester men will show up and sing Dufay’s “Nuper Rosarum Florem” and that Henry V himself may make a cameo appearance to keep vigil while we sing the ancient office of Compline.
When Monday rolls around it will be back to reality – back to the nuts and bolts of rehearsing for Berlioz “L’Enfance du Christ.”