Back-to-back choral concerts at York University

The heartiest of musical appetites will be satisfied during two upcoming choral concerts at York University on Nov. 29 and 30 – a celebration in song extolling the glory of the human voice.

On Monday, Nov. 29, the York University Concert Choir, directed by York Professor Lisette Canton (left) and accompanied by George Brough, will raise their voices in a spirited rendition of two large, compelling choral masterpieces – Fauré’s Requiem and Mozart’s Vespers.

Few things stir the soul as deeply as French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. Rather than focusing on a theme of fire and brimstone judgment, Fauré’s Requiem celebrates death as a joyful deliverance beyond the grave.

The 110-voice York choir will perform three movements of Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes De Confessore – dixit, laudate dominium and laudate pueri. The student soloists featured in this performance are sopranos Vania Chan, Jennifer Corless and Vanessa Launch; mezzo-soprano Nichea Barry; tenor Timothée Gourdon; and Asher Smith and Patrick Twaddle, bass.

Canton joined the faculty in the Department of Music at York University earlier this year. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at York, Canton is a choral and orchestral conductor, as well as a vocal coach and technician. She has recorded for CBC radio and television, and has guest-conducted for numerous ensembles in Canada and the United States. The founder and artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed Ottawa Bach Choir, she served on the national jury of the CBC/Radio-Canada Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs in 2004.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, the public can indulge themselves in The High Voice: From Medieval to Modern, a concert featuring the 60-voice York University Women’s Choir directed by York Professor Stephanie Martin (left), with George Brough on piano and guest artist Mary-Katherine Finch on cello.

The program opens with medieval music: Gregorian chant, a piece depicting an ecstatic vision, and an ancient round dance. The choir will then segue into a set of lullabies drawing from many traditions, including J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, a piece set in three different Native Canadian languages, and several songs by Canadian composers Eleanor Daley and Keith Hammel.

These performances will be followed by mountain ballads derived from Appalachian folk songs brought from the old world by the first European settlers. The concert closes on a rousing note with several ale house rounds, toasting everything and anything profusely, of course.

Martin joined the faculty in York University’s Music Department this year, following 11 years as music director at Calvin Presbyterian Church, Toronto. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at York, she conducts Toronto’s 85-voice oratorio choir Pax Christi Chorale. The recipient of the Lillian Forsythe Award for excellence in church music and the Leslie Bell Prize for choral conducting, Martin has toured Eastern Europe and China as assistant conductor to Howard Dyck with Consort Caritatis. Former harpsichordist with the Arbor Oak Trio, she is a frequent guest performer with I FURIOSI baroque ensemble and The Toronto Consort. She is also a published composer and arranger and performs with Recordare Ensemble.

The concerts of the York University Concert Choir and the York University Women’s Choir will take place in the McLaughlin Performance Hall, 050 McLaughlin College, on the Keele campus, beginning at 7:30pm. Admission is $10; $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call 416-736-5186.

This story was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, communications, Faculty of Fine Arts.