Category Archives: Choirs

This Sunday: Special Performance in Vancouver!

You heard it here first!

Or if you already have, maybe it was via Vox Humana’s Facebook page.

Either way, there’s a one of a kind choral concert happening in Vancouver this Sunday.

The Little Match Girl Passion

Under the direction of Brian Wismath, two singers from Vox Humana will join forces with two from Vancouver Chamber Choir to perform David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion. This group will perform the piece as originally intended – as a quartet. I had the chance to hear Vox Humana sing this back in 2013, and it is stunning.

Based on The Little Match Girl, a children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen, and influenced by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the music’s heartfelt examination of suffering and injustice is an appropriate theme as Easter draws near.

Some words about the piece from NYC-based composer David Lang:

What drew me to The Little Match Girl is that the strength of the story lies not in its plot but in the fact that all its parts—the horror and the beauty—are constantly suffused with their opposites. The girl’s bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories; her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. There is a kind of naive equilibrium between suffering and hope.

The quartet will also sing my Compassio during the concert.

There will be three more performances the following week on Vancouver Island, and all the details can be found on the Vox Humana website. These concerts are admission by donation.

Forward this info to anyone who may be interested!


Have A Seriously Good Christmas Eve (Concert)

Although we’ve traded in the tree for some more apartment-appropriate deco this year, Christmas is definitely coming!

Forest and Wine Soldier

And to celebrate, I’d like to invite you to an upcoming performance in Victoria by Vox Humana Chamber Choir. They will sing three concerts called “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” on Dec 22, 23, and 24. The choir will perform my newly commissioned arrangement of the Welsh carol All Through the Night (Ar Hyd Y Nos).

This concert is “A Vox Humana tradition. Dylan Thomas’ quintessential Christmastime story read by Welshman Melville Jones and accompanied by carols. Enjoyed best with friends and family and appropriate for all ages.”

I get to go to the show on the 24th, so I look forward to hearing my arrangement for the first time and seeing some familiar faces on the Island.

I’d love to see you there, too! Here are the details:

A Child’s Christmas In Wales
When: Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 – 2:30pm
Where: Alix Goolden Performance Hall, 907 Pandora Avenue, Victoria
Admission: By donation

More info at:

Christmas in wales

Until then, I’m feverishly working on both new choral and instrumental works, while taking some time to enjoy the best of the season. And I look forward to 2015, which promises to be another great year of music making.

What are you up to this Christmas? I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
-Mother Teresa

Great Moments In Modern Choral Music, V

The night sky is an endless source of inspiration for me. I think the first time I realized just how impressive they could be was when I watched their blue and green waves dance one night above Edmonton, Alberta. Even in the middle of a floodlit parking lot, I could see them as clearly as the moon, and brighter than any stars.

In this music for SSA choir and piano, the chorus sings wordless melodies and clusters over the relentless ebbing and flowing of the keyboard. It’s gorgeous and unpredictable, much like the Lights themselves.

Northern Lights – Harry Somers (1925-1999)

I first discovered this piece on this album recorded by the Elmer Iseler Singers. It’s an impressive recording!

Great Moments In Modern Choral Music, IV

Ever had a moment you wish could last forever?

Immortal Bach – Knut Nystedt (b. 1915)

Nystedt starts this piece with the first three short phrases from J. S. Bach’s sacred song, “Komm, süsser Tod” (Come, soothing death). The composer then stretches those phrases into a musical molasses in which the harmonies almost refuse to resolve. The familiar lines of the hymn struggle to reach the end, the resolution, or as the text says, the “blessed rest”. Eerie, and very beautiful.

This music has been making the rounds in Canadian concert halls lately. The Victoria Choral Society performed it in February. So did the all-pro Vancouver Chamber Choir, Pro Coro Canada, and Elmer Iesler Singers during their collaborative concert broadcast from Koerner Hall in Toronto by Soundstreams. Enjoy!

Are You Taking A Risk?

Photo 10-16-2013, 19 51 07

“Did you feel you were taking a risk?”

This question came to me from Cy Giacomin, a composer of choral music, and singer with the Canadian Chamber Choir. He had just finished performing my “Compassio”, among other works, in this week’s fantastic concert with Vox Humana.

And what a good question!

Cy was asking if “Compassio” felt like a risky piece of music to me as I was writing it. And the answer is yes, for many reasons. Causes of insecurity included the piece being my first commission, the use of only one word, and even some of the part-writing techniques I used.

One perpetual obstacle I face as a composer is in trying to silence internal criticism. The struggle is between writing for applause and writing for me. It’s “Will they like me?” vs. “Who cares if they like me?” Neither of these attitudes are useful by themselves.

This is insecurity at its finest, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who is immune from it. (Most of the people I meet are not composers, and they suffer too.)

My solution: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. The rest will sort itself out.

Do you agree?

PS – I don’t have a good excuse for not writing a post last Friday. My friend Amy in Victoria pointed this out today. It’s good to know that my words are appreciated from time to time. Amy, this one’s for you. 🙂