Richard Eaton Singers get ready for summer tour


Having rolled out some pretty heavy artillery throughout the season, what would the Richard Eaton Singers do for an encore?

Quite a bit, it seems.

Tonight the 105-person mixed choir will perform a duplicate concert at All Saints Cathedral of the music they are taking to the United Kingdom this summer – specifically Edinburgh and Oxford.

Now in his 36th season as musical director, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff is a practiced hand at preparing demanding, wide-ranging choral repertoire on a chronically tight schedule.

And his choral charges never let him down. Today they proudly display a deserving reputation of creating brilliant harmonies that function as a unified wall of sound.

St. Albert vocalists making a contribution to RES are Christa Merrell, Hans Forbrich, Stan Backs, Lori Giesbrecht, Mike Otto, Roswitha and Claus Knoefel, and Maria and Warren Pickell.

During the concert, the ensemble will sing a range of music from secular to sacred, classical to contemporary. Accompanying their rich sound is Jeremy Spurgeon on organ.

Lately Ratzlaff has mulled over the idea of retirement and the United Kingdom tour is an important way to sum up his conducting skills and the choir’s interpretative powers.

“I’d like the choir to experience those great venues in the United Kingdom and to work with fine organists. But mostly it’s to sing in these glorious cathedrals with wonderful acoustics. The singers are paying their own way and they deserve the best experience possible. And this will be a great way to end the year,” Ratzlaff noted.

Under the music professor’s leadership, the mass ensemble has developed into one of Canada’s leading symphonic choirs tackling major classical oratorios, recording CDs, touring and commissioning numerous works from Canadian composers.

Whether singing an interesting symphonic rarity or an up-and-coming piece, RES always springs a few varied surprises in its program.

This concert has a dynamic Canadian component that not only includes contemporary composer Healey Willan’s Latin based works, but also a casual version of Ian Tyson’s rootsy Four Strong Winds.

The religious slate introduces traditional oratorios from Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms as well as Bob Chilcott’s Gloria, a four movement setting for choir.

From Europe’s’ Slavonic countries, Ratzlaff has programmed Arvo Pärt’s Borgarditse Devo and Cyrillius Kreek’s Bless the Lord, a setting of Psalm 104.

And the ending is an arrangement by Sean Kirchner. Unclouded Day is an enduring gospel favourite set with straightforward verse and chorus. But the next two verses interestingly blend traditional bluegrass with counterpoint and fugue.

“It’s a very vigorous and uplifting piece, a good way to end the concert.”


Pre-United Kingdom Tour Concert
Richard Eaton Singers
Saturday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m.
All Saints Anglican Church
10035 – 103 Ave.
Tickets: $20 to $25 at door or at


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.