Da Camera Singers, now celebrating its 49th season, has the distinction of being the longest standing chamber choir in the Capital region.
Although no original members are left, “It still stands strong as a testament to the membership, to the people who have put a lot of work into it and to the audience who support it. It’s a very highly committed group and always achieves beyond expectation,” says music director John Brough.
The 35-member choir and Da Camera Chamber Orchestra of 11 musicians is launching a pre-Easter concert this Sunday at First Baptist Church.
St. Albert’s representatives are Wendy Vanderwel and Rosemarie Barnes.
In Paradisum features works that deal with sacred texts and evoke the imagery of Paradise. “Normally we fear funerals and the passing of a loved one. This music is not serious. It is actually quite happy,” says Brough.
In this two-hour optimistic view of life-after-death, Brough has selected a repertoire that features Gabriel FaurÄ‚Â©’s Requiem as the centrepiece along with a collection of seven short compositions that range from a Gregorian chant to a work written last year.
“FaurÄ‚Â©’s Requiem is arguably the most loved, most worked, most preferred work. It has a beautiful melody, a simple setting and there are many gorgeous moods from a feeling of comfort to a feeling of grief.”
“And in the final movement — In Paradisum — it sets up the idea that death is a moment to rejoice rather than grieve, and that the act of dying is not meant to be dwelt upon day after day.”
Two other shorter works from the Romantic period are Johannes Brahms’ How Lovely Are They Dwelling Places, a movement from his Requiem, and Giuseppe Verdi’s Lord’s Prayer.
While Brahms’ composition pulls all the emotional qualities together through its rich harmonies, Verdi’s prayer instead was one of a few simpler works he wrote for small church choirs.
In a more modern vein, American composer Jonathan Adams’ In This Still Room talks about the calm, peace and solitude of life after death. Adopting a text from John Greenleaf Whittier, a 19th century poet and advocate for the abolition of slavery, the work is unapologetically sacred.
“There’s a feeling of being still and quiet. Everything that has been accrued in life has fallen away and we are left alone with God.”
Brough describes the concert as an escape from winter’s blues. “The music is uplifting, comforting and beautiful.”
Da Camera Singers
Sunday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m.
First Baptist Church
10031 – 109 St.
Tickets: $15 to $20 at the door