Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Combined ensembles a musical force to be reckoned with

  • Print

FORTY years in the making, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and The Winnipeg Singers' combined birthday bash proved well worth the wait.

The two elite musical ensembles are both celebrating their 40th anniversaries all year long -- an impressive accomplishment in a city renowned for its rich culture. To mark the occasion, MCO played host by presenting the vocal ensemble in a celebratory program especially chosen by longtime Winnipeg Singers music director/conductor Yuri Klaz and MCO music director Anne Manson.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's Berliner Messe (Berlin Mass) is the type of music that audiences adore. Originally composed for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) soloists with organ, its later reincarnation for chorus and strings premièred in 1992. Although technically a 20th-century work, it evokes the austere beauty of Gregorian chant and early music, with its transparent textures leaving little room to hide.

The 24-voice choir launched into the opening Kyrie with great solemnity, its pungent dissonances melting into consonant harmonies underscored by the strings' glassy overtones. The Gloria offered the first taste of the singers performing in full voice, and by Veni Sancte Spiritus -- the very heart of this expressive piece, including its foreboding string drone -- the crowd of 858 was entranced. Credo, with its quickly shifting meters, provided repose before plunging once again into the sombre depths of Sanctus.

The Singers easily handled the large leaps in Agnus Dei, with the carefully blended a cappella sections a particular highlight.

The concert also included Canadian composer Glenn Buhr's Ritchot Mass. Written during the province's devastating flood of 1997 -- in which Buhr lost his own home in the RM of Ritchot -- the four-part work is a gem. The composer's imaginative craftmanship distinctly flavours each of its varied short movements based on the liturgical Mass: Kyrie; Gloria; Sanctus; and Agnus Dei.

The choir's final, hushed intoning of the phrase "dona nobis pacem" accompanied by their rubbing fingers on tuned crystal goblets filled with water -- thus making art out of potentially destructive forces -- is utter magic.

Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis probably never dreamed his Spem in Alium (I Have Never Placed My Hope) would be enjoying the success it has today. From innovative art installations to racy bestsellers, the impressive, 40-part motet seems to be everywhere these days. Now augmented by 16 additional guest vocalists, the Singers performed the city première with controlled precision, despite several nail-biting moments that risked total derailment. Klaz firmly kept the eight independent choirs together as their voices rose and fell through the piece's polyphonic twists and turns.

The crowd leaped to its feet, clearly appreciative of the work's sheer technical difficulty, as well as all-encompassing sound.

The concert opened with Vivaldi's Credo, performed with crisp attack and clear diction. By contrast, Latvian-born Canadian composer Imant Raminsh's Psalm 121 is a sonorous expression of faith that melds one phrase into another.

Mendelssohn's Jesu, Meine Freude closed the decidedly non-secular concert with a joyful noise, as an example of what this versatile, 40-years-young choir -- not to mention its artistic twin, the fine MCO -- does best.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

Concert Review

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, with The Winnipeg Singers

Westminster United Church

Wednesday, Feb. 6

Attendance: 858

Four stars out of five

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2013 D6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lauren Bacall 'loved' working in Canada

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google