Record Article: Musical Adventure
Looking over the cultural calendar for the weeks ahead, three classical music concerts stand out as examples of adventurous and imaginative programming.
The theme of the Menno Singers 2013-2014 season is “exploring the four points of the compass:” The 45-voice choir “wandered west” in October, and “navigated north” in the Christmas season. The next concert in the series is “Exploring East,” which takes place a week from today — Saturday, March 22, at Waterloo North Mennonite Church.
According to Menno Singers director Peter Nikiforuk, this offering “will be the furthest afield in terms of repertoire” of the series. To guide the Singers as they “embark into an exotic new sound world,” they are collaborating with shakuhachi flute master, choral conductor, and global music specialist Dr. Gerard Yun, who teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo and York University.
The program includes music from Mongolia, Bali, Korea, Japan and New Zealand, sung in the original languages, and paired with more familiar pieces from western musical traditions — a lullaby from Japan matched with a lullaby from Canada, for instance, and a Korean song about lost love balanced with a song about lost love by Sir Edward Elgar.
Another highlight is a choral improvisation led by Yun and the improvisational ensemble that he directs, Dark Horse. The Menno Singers will be “Surveying South” in the final concert in the series on Saturday, May 10. For this program, which is centred around Argentinean composer Ariel Ramirez’s Missa Criolla, they’ll be collaborating with Inshallah, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary’s 125-voice choir.
A doubleheader from Nota Bene Baroque Players that’s happening on Sunday, March 30 also touches on the theme of travel and exploration. It begins in the afternoon, with a novel concert and contest combination called Travel Quiz.
The Players will perform musical compositions from the great cities of Europe with a slide show of famous landmarks projected in the background. As the program unfolds, musical clues will be presented to help audience members identify each landmark. There will be prizes for those who have the most correct answers.
Travel Quiz is part of the Classics at the Registry concert series. Later that same day, the Nota Bene Baroque Players will be part of a very special presentation with Spiritus, a vocal and instrumental ensemble “dedicated to the performance of great religious music, especially the cantatas Johann Sebastian Bach.”
Two weeks from tomorrow, at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Kitchener, Spiritus will present the first Canadian performance of the Bach-Kaiser-Handel St. Mark Passion of 1747.
Long story short, Bach is known to have performed a version of the St. Mark Passion by an obscure composer named Kaiser at least three times. But he modified the work by editing it and inserting other material. The 1747 version includes seven arias by George Frederick Handel and some original composition. This type of work is known as a pasticcio.
Kaiser’s St. Mark Passion edited, arranged and augmented by Bach was considered lost for more than 250 years. But in 2009 a full score for the continuo part was discovered, which made it possible to reconstruct the entire work. The U.S. premiere was presented in Houston in 2013.
This will be the first time that Canadians will be able to hear the work as Bach performed it for his congregation in Leipzig on Good Friday, 1747.