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A brand-new composition, written especially for the Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers, will receive its world première Saturday, March 23rd in Kitchener.

Sonnet 18 by Rémi St-Jacques of Blainville, Quebec, is the winner of the second annual composition contest hosted by the Grand Philharmonic Choir. The work, which takes one of Shakespeare’s best-known sonnets for its text, was chosen for its “beautiful long phrases” and “sophisticated harmonic language,” according to the jury that selected it as the winner.

St-Jacques said the sonnet, which begins: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” speaks as a “praise to someone’s beauty that one might admire, or love, comparing it to summer. But unlike summer, whose beauty does not last, with all its weather whims and seasonal cycles, the beauty praised to the admired or beloved one is everlasting, retaining all of summer’s most beautiful moments and aspects.”

“It’s this passion that I want to convey in my music, making it as some kind of choral poem.”

Having French as his native language, St-Jacques was struck by the particular rhythm of this form of English poetry, known as iambic pentameter.

“Where there is rhythm, there is music,” he said.

“Having this pattern written down, a big chunk of music was already written for me. I simply needed to add the feeling to it, bringing it to life in my own way.”

St-Jacques will be present for the premiere, which will be performed as part of a concert that brings together two different styles of choral music; beautiful English Renaissance pieces, such as William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, will be contrasted with devotional contemporary works such as Emily Walker’s exquisitely crafted, serene I Asked of God.

The composition contest was launched in 2017 for Canadian composers aged 30 and under. In addition to the opportunity to attend the world première, the chosen composer wins a prize of $1,500. Works are stripped of identifying information; the jury doesn’t know who wrote each piece until after the decision is made.

“Through this contest, we hope to add to the great depth of Canadian choir repertoire by showcasing the work of young, dynamic composers,” said the choir’s artistic director, Mark Vuorinen. “It’s very exciting to see the energy and creativity in these composers from all across Canada. The quality of the pieces was quite high.”

Vuorinen served as a juror along with two colleagues: Dr. Elaine Choi, an educator who is also director of music at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto; and Dr. Karen Sunabacka, a composer and music professor at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo

St-Jacques is currently a graduate student of choral conducting at Université de Sherbrooke, where he studies with Robert Ingari. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Université de Montréal in music composition. His compositions have won several prizes in Quebec and in 2016, he was a finalist in the International Antonín Dvořák Composition Competition, which was held in Prague.

The composition contest is generously sponsored by Ernie and Nancy Regehr, Dr. Moira Glerum, and the Wallenstein Feed Charitable Foundation.

To learn more about the concert on March 23, click here.

Rémi St-Jacques est le gagnant de la compétition de composition de la Grand Philharmonic Choir.

Une nouvelle composition, écrite pour le choeur de chambre de la Grand Philharmonic Choir, fera sa première mondiale le samedi 23 mars, à Kitchener, en Ontario.

Sonnet 18, de Rémi St-Jacques de Blainville, Québec, est l’oeuvre gagnante de la deuxième competition annuelle offerte par la Grand Philharmonic Choir. La pièce, qui prend pour son texte un des sonnets les plus connus de Shakespeare, fut choisie pour ses «belles, longues phrases», et son «langage harmonique sophistiqué, » selon le jury.

St-Jacques dit que le sonnet, qui commence par «Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? » (Dois-je te comparer à un jour d’été), «m’évoque à propos de la beauté de quelqu’un qu’une tierce personne pourrait admirer ou aimer, la comparant à l’été. Mais contrairement à l’été, dont la beauté ne dure pas, avec tout ses caprices météorologiques et les cycles saisonniers, la beauté louangée envers l’admiré ou le bien-aimé est éternel, retenant tout les plus beaux moments et les plus beaux aspects de l’été.»

«C’est cette passion que je veux transmettre dans ma musique, en faisant un genre de poème choristique.»

Ayant le français comme langue maternelle, St-Jacques fut frappé par le rhytme particulier de cette forme de poésie anglaise, le «pentamètre iambique».

«Et où il y a du rythme, il y a de la musique,» dit-il.

«Avec ce modèle déjà écrit, une grosse partie de la musique était déjà écrite pour moi. J’ai simplement eu besoin d’y ajouter l’émotion et de l’amener à la vie à ma manière. »

St-Jacques sera présent pour la première, qui fera partie d’une représentation qui unira deux genres différents de musique de chorale; de belles œuvres de musique de renaissance anglaise, telles que Mass for Four Voices de William Byrd, en contraste avec des œuvres contemporaines, telles que la pièce sereine et exquise d’Emily Walker, I Asked of God.

 La compétition de composition a été lancée en 2017 pour les compositeurs canadiens de moins de 30 ans. En plus de l’opportunité d’être présent pour la première mondiale, le gagnant reçoit un prix de $1 500.  Toute marque d’identité est omise des œuvres soumises; le jury ne sait pas qui est le compositeur/la compositrice avant d’avoir choisi l’œuvre gagnante.

«Par l’entremise de cette compétition, nous espérons ajouter à l’ampleur du répertoire choral canadien en mettant en valeur les œuvres de compositeurs jeunes et dynamiques,» dit Mark Vuorinen, directeur artistique de la Grand Philharmonic Choir. «Il est très excitant de voir l’énergie et la créativité de ces compositeurs, de partout au Canada. Les œuvres soumises étaient de très grande qualité.»

Vuorinen fut un membre du jury, accompagné par deux collègues: Dr. Elaine Choi, une éducatrice qui est aussi la directrice de musique de l’église Trinity Eaton Memorial à Toronto; et Dr. Karen Sunbacka, compositrice et professeure de musique à Conrad Grebel University College, à l’Université de Waterloo.

St-Jacques en cours de faire sa maîtrise en direction chorale à l’Université Sherbrooke, sous la direction de Robert Ingari. Il a un bacchalauréat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses compositions lui ont mérité plusieurs prix au Québec, et, en 2016, il fut un finaliste dans la Compétition de composition d’Antonin Dvorak, à Prague.

Le concours de composition est généreusement parrainé par Nancy et Ernie Regehr, Dr. Moira Glerum, et Wallenstein Feed Charitable Foundation.

Pour de plus amples informations au sujet du concert le 23 mars, veuillez cliquer ici.

The Grand Philharmonic Choir will give the world premiere February 10 of an evocative choral work: “Celestial Dream,” by Nicholas Ryan Kelly. Kelly, of Penticton, British Columbia, is the winner of the choir’s inaugural composition contest for composers 30 and under, which attracted entries from across Canada.

He will travel to Kitchener for the performance and will speak to the audience about the creative process.

Kelly’s piece, a setting of text from a poem by Walt Whitman, was the unanimous choice of the competition jury, said the choir’s artistic director and conductor, Mark Vuorinen. “It’s a beautiful piece, whose affect entirely fits Whitman’s poem,” said Vuorinen. “He writes with a deep understanding of the voice and the choral medium.”

Kelly said he was inspired by the atmosphere of Whitman’s poem, “Proud Music of the Storm,” which describes the awakening from a dream in which the universe is illuminated through music. “The sensation of floating between sleep and waking, the reminiscences of a dream, the sense of newness the outside world takes on … I tried to translate it into music as if I were scoring a scene in a film,” Kelly said. “I hope this colourful, varied musical setting helps to underscore the poem’s message about music as a vehicle for social and spiritual connection.”

First drawn to music’s storytelling power through film soundtracks and symphonic poems, Kelly studied music composition at Ithaca College in New York and the University of British Columbia. He now lives in BC’s Okanagan Valley, where he is active as a composer, conductor and teacher.

Kelly has received many accolades for his compositions. Since 2015, both his choral and wind ensemble compositions have been recognized with numerous national and international awards, including the Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize.

Kelly’s work will be performed at a concert featuring an array of other choral gems: the intensely melodic Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein; the fresh and vivid Gloria by Francis Poulenc; and the celebratory Psalm 150 by Timothy Corlis. Soprano Natasha Campbell and countertenor Daniel Cabena are vocal soloists at the concert, which will be held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in downtown Kitchener.

Gloria
Saturday February 10, 2018, 7:30 pm
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
49 Queen St. N., Kitchener, ON

Tickets: 519-578-1570 or click here to buy online

$30 adults and seniors / $24 subscribers (code required) / $14 students and under-30s/ $5 children and high school students

 

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