Tag: choir

A Mass for Peace – Join North Shore Unitarians on May 11th

The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace was commissioned for the millennium by the U.K. Royal Armouries and had its premiere in London. The CD was released on September 10, 2001.

On May 11th, our church community will join many other singers from the wider community to make a strong, collective statement as to the folly of war. A choir of over 100 singers will perform this powerful and intensely moving work as a concert at Highlands United Church.

The human longing for peace is a visceral presence in this mass, as each movement adds to the larger story of war’s devastating impact. The various texts, as well as the music itself, embrace time periods from the first millennium B.C. to modern times, incorporating the poetic beauty of Islamic, Hindu, and Christian cultures.

ALISON NIXON, MUSIC DIRECTOR

Alison was appointed Music Director in September 2003. She conducts several other choral groups in the area including the Douglas College Choral Society, Note Bene Women’s Choir and SummerChor.

Alison is an accomplished violinist and has performed with orchestras in Britain, Switzerland and Vancouver. She is responsible for the church’s music program, which includes a 40-member adult choir, classical ensemble, folk choir and children’s choir. Alison also coordinates the musical component of the weekly Sunday services.

 

Chalice Choir in Bellingham

Notes by Leslie Hill, Pictures by Keith Wilkinson

On Sunday, February 24, 2019, Choir Director Donna Brown and twenty members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s Chalice Choir met at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship at the invitation of BUF’s choir director, Kevin Allen-Schmid. During the service we sang ‘I Dreamed of Rain’ and with the BUF choir sang ‘One Day’, an anthem to peace. In the afternoon we attended an Interfaith Coalition Music Festival. We joined choirs from eleven other faith communities, from Jewish to Catholic, Methodist to Muslim. The UCV Chalice Choir’s reprise of ‘I Dreamed of Rain’ was sandwiched between singers from the Unity Spiritual Center and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Interfaith Coalition Music Festival was raising money to help house the homeless in Bellingham. After every group had sung, we had a rousing sing-along with the audience, a brief and stirring address by Rev. Seth Thomas of St. James Presbyterian Church and concluded with a grand massed choir plus audience finale of ‘One Day’, featuring solos in Hebrew and Arabic.

It was an inspiring musical day and with any luck the UCV congregation will notice an additional spiritual shine on the faces of the Chalice Choir the next time we sing.

Massed choir and guests, First Congregational Church, Bellingham, WA

Chalice Choir on deck

Market Green, Fairhaven, WA

Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Sanctuary

“It’s happening @ BUF”

How Sweet the Singing – Twenty Years with Donna Brown

“The choir is singing this Sunday? Oh good, I’ll be there for sure.”

You hear this often enough to appreciate that for many people, music is a vital part of any Sunday Service. In the Unitarian Church of Vancouver the choir sings two Sundays a month, on average, although it practises every week. And the face of the choir is the inimitable Donna Brown, currently celebrating her twentieth year as Director of UCV’s Chalice Choir.

Donna eased into the choir a few years after she joined the church in 1989. The previous director, Sallie Novinger, encouraged her to join as a soprano. Whenever Sallie was ill she asked Donna to direct and when she decided to retire, she suggested Donna take over. The first few years were tumultuous, with many guest ministers, a huge range in the organization of services and a never-ending need to check, coordinate and adjust. Things settled down when Steven Epperson arrived; he, Donna and Elliott Dainow formed a seamless, cooperative team. She credits Rob Taylor, Connie Wigmore and the late Donna Cook, for their support in the early days. Gavin Grandish and Nicola Hamilton fill in whenever Donna can’t be there.

Donna still quotes her mentor, Harold Brown, when the choir struggles to master a piece: ‘Perfection is an abstraction, one we must strive to reach though it will always be beyond our grasp.’

Donna’s patience in dealing with forty or so Unitarians, not unlike herding cats, has been honed by twenty-five years as an elementary school teacher. She remains pleasant and smiling even as she pushes singers to be better. Her determination to keep trained and talented section leads enables the rank and file members to ‘sing up’ a level so the choir can work on music that would otherwise be too difficult for many. As concert dates approach, she may have sleepless nights but she never panics. She will listen to everyone once and then make hard decisions when necessary. Although she never singles anyone out for blame, her bionic hearing for faulty timing and sagging pitch means the choir improves year by year. If the abstract of perfection is occasionally too far out of reach, Donna changes the program.

Over the last twenty years, the choir has performed a wide range of pieces at its two annual concerts. Proceeds from concerts (and choir-run church lunches in lean years) have funded the music library. Donna has a passion for requiems but the music varies from Bach, Rutter, Faure and Stravinsky to medleys from Queen, Gershwin, Village People and West Side Story. The choir has sung for the wedding of choir member Catherine Ponsford and the funerals of Harold Brown and Phillip Hewett. Last year at the Vancouver Push Festival, the choir even sang in the role of Community Choir for the play, ‘The Events’ starring UCV’s own Douglas Ennenberg. This past February Donna took the choir across the border to sing at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship service and at an interfaith concert to raise money for housing the homeless in the Bellingham area.

This year’s spring concert is titled ‘Donna’s Favourites’, pieces culled from her twenty years as Chalice Choir director. Mark your calendars, Sunday May 5 at 7:30. Come celebrate her stellar career with the choir here at UCV.

Choir Advent Concerts 1999-2018

Here are the major works sung by the Chalice Choir over the past 20 years.

Chalice Choir Advent Concert Featured Major Works

1999 J.S. Bach Cantata #140:  Wachet Auf

2000 Britten  Ceremony of Carols

2001 J.S. Bach  Christmas Oratorio, Part 1

2002 Haydn  Missa Sancti Nicolai

2003 Dvorak  Mass in D

2004 J.S. Bach  Christmas Oratorio, Part 2

2005 Poulenc  Gloria

2006 Mozart  Vespers K.339

2007 Handel  Coronation Anthems

2008 Vivaldi  Gloria

2009 J.S. Bach  Magnificat

2010 Schubert  Mass #6 in Eb

2011 Vivaldi  Magnificat 710a

2012 J.S. Bach  Cantata #63:  Christet, ätzet diesen Tag

2013 Britten  Ceremony of Carols

2014 Collection of Kyries (Josquin, Bach, Mozart, Dvorak, Stokes)

2015 Dvorak  Mass in D

2016 J.S. Bach  Cantata #140:  Wachet Auf

2017 Gounod  St. Cecilia Mass

2018  Gjeilo  Dark Night of the Soul & Luminous Night of the Soul

In Memoriam: Remembrance Day

This is the one hundredth anniversary of the ending of World War I. We commemorate this Remembrance Day in a service of poetry, music and meditation. We gather to feel and think on the tragedy of war and the gifts of peace. We honour those who have served us in death and life.

Program:

Find A Stillness, Chalice Choir
The Drum, John Scott, 1730 – 1783
Old Man Travelling, William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850
Hashivenu, Chalice Choir
The Due of the Dead, William Makepeace Thackeray, 1811 – 1863
Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen, 1893 – 1918
In Flanders Fields, Chalice Choir
From Walking Wounded, Vernon Scannell, 1922 – 2007
In Celebration of Spring, John Balaban, 1943-
Intermezo op. 117 no. 1 (excerpt), Brahms, Pat Armstrong and Elliot Dainow
Unmentioned in Dispatches, Peter Wyton, 1944-
Reconciliation, Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

Choir Sings Gjeilo – Plus Lots More

Here’s some background on the choir concert. This year, the Chalice Choir’s Advent Concert features two pieces by the young (40) Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo). Dark Night of the Soul and Luminous Night of the Soul are both based on poetry by St. John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Spanish mystic, a contemporary of Teresa of Avila. St. John is considered one of the foremost poets in the Spanish language. These exquisitely layered pieces involve both piano and string accompaniment. They have been a delight to learn and we look forward to sharing them with you.

But that is not all we have for you. Anne Duranceau and Edgar Bridwell, along with a few of their friends, will present some lovely string music. The ensemble and the choir have prepared several beautiful songs and Lyndon Ladeur, our tenor lead, will dazzle you with an aria from his upcoming performance in Opera Mariposa’s production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte (Nov 30, Dec, 1, 7, 8 at Marpole United.)

After our annual singalong, you will be invited to join us for a reception in Hewett Centre.

Want a preview? You can listen to Dark Night of the Soul and Luminous Night of the Soul here:

An evening to warm your heart and jump-start your holiday spirit. Please join us!

Tickets: $20 (or pay what you can) available at the door.

Bios below

Lyndon Ladeurtenor | Ferrando

Lyndon Ladeur’s favourite roles to date include Marco in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. His major concert repertoire as a soloist consists of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Gounod’s Messe solennelle en l’honneur de Sainte-Cécile. He made his international debut as part of the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival to a sold-out crowd at the Royal Hall in Harrogate, UK where he performed Marco in The Gondoliers. For this portrayal he was named the winner of the Best Male Vocalist award, as well as being nominated for Best Male Actor. He was given a 2018 Vancouver Academy of Music Emerging Artist Grant to contribute to this experience. He is also the reigning winner of both the Senior Classical Voice and Vocal Variety competitions at the BC Provincial Performing Arts Festival. After that, Lyndon was named a winner of the BC Provincial Concerto Competition.

dgar Bridwell was born in Illinois but has lived in BC and Montreal most of his life. He started violin when he was five years old. He later played, recorded and toured internationally with several Swing and Rockabilly bands, but came back to classical music a few years ago.

nne Duranceau was born in Montreal but lived mostly in Quebec City. After a career as a classically-trained dancer, she studied the contrabass at Laval University and obtained her Master’s Degree in Music at the University of Arizona, also travelling to participate in many workshops and festivals where she had the opportunity to work with several masters of international renown. She plays with several ensembles, among which Sinfonia, and the Klezmer group Mad Nomad.

Cabaret — A Full House and Lots of Fun

The biennial Chalice Choir–and Friends–Cabaret had a full house, great music and lots of fun. Here are some photos thanks to Gail Stephan.

The Chalice Choir of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver brightened up a cool rainy evening with their spring cabaret, Fascinating Rhythms, in Hewett Centre Saturday April 28, 2018.

The hall was beautiful with bright saris, flowers and snack food, the wine and beer pleasant, the program varied and the atmosphere cheerful. Every seat was full and the audience participation in a couple of the numbers raised the roof.

The full choir sang folk songs, including two crowd-pleasers by Stan Rogers, a Gershwin medley and a collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs. In between the first and last sets, JES (Jane Slemon and friends), soloists and small group numbers rounded out the program.

We’re All Here – Chalice Choir Plays PuSh

We’re All Here

by Leslie Hill (far left) 

UCV’s Chalice Choir spent an exhilarating evening Friday night (January 19, 2018) on stage in The Events, by David Greig, a play about a lesbian priest’s journey through the trauma of surviving a mass shooting that kills everyone else in the community choir she directs. Despite the darkness of the subject matter, the play is ultimately redemptive. The cast involves two actors and a choir – a different choir every night. Singers are required to learn the music and discouraged from reading or seeing the play in advance. The first ‘practice’ with the actors comes an hour before the audience arrives.

It’s unnerving, to say the least.

“You’re not supposed to act,” Richard Wolfe, the director, told us. “We want you to focus on the performance on stage just like the audience. You’re a kind of Greek chorus.”

Fair enough. I’m certainly no actor; in fact I was so mesmerized by the play, I didn’t even realize until the last scene that I’d been on the edge of my chair the whole night. Luisa Jojic as Claire, and Douglas Ennenberg as the Boy were riveting. Doug Ennenberg, of course, is one of UCV’s own, but I doubt any of us was prepared for the sense of menace he exuded, or  his extraordinary and raw physicality. He also portrayed a psychiatrist, the Boy’s father, a school friend, Claire’s partner, and a politician, shifting easily from one character to another. Luisa Jojic, a veteran actor from Bard on the Beach, was brilliant as the anguished survivor, a priest who has lost her faith, and is searching fruitlessly for answers. Under the supervision of Mishelle Cuttler, the production’s music director, we sang our own opening number and the seven songs that are part of the play on cue. In the last scene, we moved out and filled the stage to sing directly to the audience, ‘We’re All Here’, a community choir, participants and observers both. I teared up. It was an extraordinary night and a wonderful privilege.

Now I need to go back and see another night with a different choir.

The Events plays in the Russian Hall until January 28 as a part of Vancouver’s Push Festival.

Tickets click here. Note opportunity to volunteer and see for free.

A list of the choirs can be found here.