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Choir lures audiences with Sirens

Pro Coro closes season with mystical journey

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 06:00 am

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Sirens
Pro Coro Chamber Choir
Sunday, June 1 at 2:30 p.m.
All Saints Cathedral
10035 – 103 St.
Tickets: $25 to $30. Call 780-428-1414 or purchase online at winspearcentre.com

Attending a Pro Coro Chamber Choir concert is similar to embarking on a potent, mystical journey thanks to conductor Michael Zaugg’s carefully selected repertoire and the high calibre of performances.

Sirens, the season closer, taking place Sunday, May 1 at All Saints Cathedral just may supersede the expected. It is the fifth season concert and homecoming performance of Pro Coro’s eastern Canadian tour to Nova Scotia and Ontario.

The 24-member choir departed Edmonton for a three-week tour in early May to perform at Podium, a bi-annual conference sponsored by the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.

Every two years, the conference hosts roughly 1,000 choristers with workshops, lectures and concerts in a different Canadian city. Edmonton will be the host city in 2016.

“It was an honour to be asked to sing and an achievement for our artistic director to show Pro Coro to Eastern audiences,” said St. Albert soprano Carol Kube.

Zaugg added an Ottawa leg to the tour where the choir sang with the Cantata Singers. While in the nation’s capital, Pro Coro also performed as the province’s cultural ambassadors during a concert at the newly opened Alberta government office.

For this extensive tour, Zaugg compiled a water-themed repertoire he entitled Sirens to lure and seduce audiences.

Kube gives Zaugg a great deal of credit for the tour’s success.

“He’s European and he brings a different pool of music to the table. It’s refreshing because the pool doesn’t get stagnant. The stuff he chooses is difficult and challenging and it’s been a real eye-opener,” she said.

“The level of difficulty really pushed my learning and everybody else in the choir. You just get stronger if it doesn’t kill you first.”

With the exception of a few pieces, Sirens will be a copy of the tour concerts, Kube noted. The afternoon’s maritime pilgrimage will sail with works by Bernat Vivancos, Jakko Mäntyjävi, Eric Whitacre and Joby Talbot.

The choir performs the western Canadian premiere of Cy Giacomin’s There Was a Time, a reflective a cappella work using a text adapted from Ecclesiastes.

Perhaps the most challenging is Latvian composer Ugis Praulins’ Laudibus in Sanctis.

“He’s one of those composers not many people have heard of, but people are starting to get excited about him. His composition is full of depth and complexity, but it’s very tuneful and melodic. It’s very rich and thick. There are 24 voices in the choir and there may be 20 different rhythms going on at any one time.”

Mäntyjävi, a Finnish composer, penned Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae as an ode to the shipwreck of a cruise ferry off the coast of Estonia in 1994 that claimed 852 lives.

Still on the same water theme, Zaugg includes a number of charts such as Whitacre’s Water Night and the Negro spiritual Down to the River.

For more information call 780-420-1247.


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