Classical music: a choir meets to celebrate the return to normal


The Vancouver Chamber Choir has staged a remarkable new event for this shrinking year’s choral calendar, a multi-choir extravaganza featuring half a dozen ensembles singing in the Orpheum.

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A choir party

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When: 2:30 p.m., November 27

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Where: Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver

Info and tickets:

The Vancouver Chamber Choir has staged a remarkable new event for this shrinking year’s choral calendar, a multi-choir extravaganza featuring half a dozen ensembles singing at the Orpheum.

The idea of ​​a large choral gathering has been in the works for over a year, initially a somewhat dreamy notion of what might be possible when musical life establishes some kind of normalcy.

“VCC Artistic Director Kari Turunen and I came up with the idea over a year ago, when it was just wishful thinking: why not do something choral and invite as many friends as possible? said general manager Steven Bélanger.

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Over the months, wishful thinking has turned into a well-defined possibility and now a practical reality.

The Chamber Choir has long enjoyed priority user status at the Orpheum and receives a civic grant to rent the theater for special occasions.

“The pandemic has been really deadly for choirs,” Bélanger said.

And the concept of a grand choral mash-up featuring ensembles that rarely sing at the Orpheum seemed particularly fitting after more than two years of struggle. The occasion to mark the resurgence of choral music after difficult times and to reflect on the diversity of our choral scene has become a true celebration.

The idea was to invite choirs, give each a segment of the afternoon program to present a sample of their particular repertoire, and then conclude with a piece or two that involved all the singers.

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Of course, there were some practical considerations.

“There’s a limit to how many people we can fit on the Orpheum stage, so it’s become a kind of tasting menu,” Bélanger said. “We would sing for each other without an audience if we had absolutely everyone.”

This time around, only small and medium-sized sets are involved. And in the future?

“If this proves successful, we will have established a framework for future collaborations,” Bélanger said.

The afternoon will begin with all the singers and Carry Tennant of the Vancouver Youth Choir led by Nitohtamok Askîy of Sherryl Sewepagaham, a composer of Cree-Dene ancestry from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta and graduated from the music therapy program at Capilano University.

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Afterwards, Tennant’s own band stays on stage to sing a folk song from Indonesia and Northern Lights by Eriks Ešenvalds. The next set of Laudate Singers by Lars Kaario includes the oldest work in the program, Zefiro torna e’l bel tempo rimena from 1614.

The Vancouver Cantata Singers conducted by Paula Kremer complete the first part of the program with three 21st century works by Tracey Wong, Arvo Pärt and Hussein Janmohamed.

After the intermission there will be more contemporary music by Leslie Uyeda and Andrew Balfour of musica intima, then Mahler and Hrušovský of the Phoenix Chamber Choir, conducted by Dave Rosborough.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir ensemble includes a piece by Michael Dellairamore and one by Laura Hawley of Edmonton.

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Then comes the time for the grand finale as Turunen conducts the music of Mendelssohn and Rheinberger.

“We end with two pieces where everyone sings together,” said Bélanger. “Two hundred singers in the finale!”

BIS: There is more choral music at the Orpheum in early December. Christmas with the Bach Choir (2 p.m., December 4) is another extravaganza featuring eight VBC choirs. And then it’s the turn of the Vancouver Bach Choir to present Handel’s Messiah (7:30 pm, Dec. 10), with Leslie Dala conducting the choir, with a quartet of soloists and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. Go to for more details.

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