Listen and learn at two vocal music symposiums this weekend at York

This weekend gospel meets jazz and the Ottawa Bach Choir meets the York University Chamber Choir in two vocal music symposiums taking place in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, at York’s Keele campus.

On Friday, Jan. 25 at 7:30pm, York music Professor Karen Burke will host and moderate When Gospel Meets Jazz, a symposium that explores the relationship between these musical siblings. Featured guest artists will be The Joy Brown Quintet, a newly-formed professional ensemble led by Toronto pianist, arranger and composer Joy Brown, with Nicole Sinclair-Anderson (vocals), Shelkah Francis (alto sax), Junior Riggan (bass) and Anthony Simpson (drums).

Right: Karen Burke

The quintet will be joined on stage by two up-and-coming young artists from York’s music program: Owen Lee, a soloist in the York U Gospel Choir, and Jenna Burke, a piano major about to release her debut album. The performers will present a variety of gospel and jazz repertoire and will engage in a Q&A session with Burke and the audience.

Left: Lisette Canton

On Saturday, Jan. 26, music Professor Lisette Canton, director of York’s classical choirs, teams up with Robert Cooper, a leading Canadian choral conductor and an executive producer for opera and choral music at CBC Radio, for the first Choral Symposium to be held at York.

The symosium will feature two choirs. The 21-voice York University Chamber Choir, guest-conducted by Cooper, will join forces and voices with a visiting professional ensemble, the 30-voice Ottawa Bach Choir (OBC), under the baton of Canton. Canton and Cooper will be joined by York graduate conducting students Cheryl Bowen, Jacklin Falconer and Doug Hammond in working with the choirs.

Above: The Ottawa Bach Choir

The symposium starts at noon with a three-hour workshop and masterclass in choral conducting, led by Cooper. It culminates with a public concert at 7:30pm, showcasing the choirs in separate and joint performances. Sharing the podium with Canton and Cooper, Bowen, Falconer and Hammond will each conduct the YU Chamber Choir in one piece in the concert.

The event will feature music from the 16th to 21st centuries. The YU Chamber Choir, comprising advanced music students from both the undergraduate and graduate program, will offer works by Ahlen, Brahms, Daley, Dobrogosz, Poulenc and Rheinberger. The Ottawa Bach Choir’s repertoire will include music by Telemann, Nystedt, Saint- Saëns, Scarlatti, Whitacre and Halloran. Together, the two choirs will perform works by Bach, Hopkins, Schütz, Sisask and Whitacre.

Right: Robert Cooper

Founded by Canton in 2002, the OBC performs music from all historical periods while keeping the choral works of J.S. Bach as the focus of its repertoire. Now in its sixth season, the OBC has already gained national and international recognition.

When Gospel Meets Jazz and all sections of the Choral Symposium are open, free of charge, to members of the York community and the general public. Observers are welcome and may attend all or part of the proceedings, but are asked to be respectful of the teaching and performing process underway. Those wishing to observe the Jan. 26 choral masterclass and workshop are invited to pre-register by calling York University Department of Music at  ext. 55186. Admission to the evening choral concert is free; registration is not required.