Celebrating R. Murray Schafer

schaferSunday, at Grace Church on the Hill, Soundstreams presented Celebrating R. Murray Schafer.  It felt like a cross between a concert and a memorial service.  There were no prayers but there were eulogies and Eleanor James drew the parallel between Schafer’s sources of inspiration and Pentecost; that feast of the Church having been chosen deliberately for the event.

There was lots of music of course.  The afternoon was bookended by two of Schafer’s ceremonial wilderness pieces for voice and trumpet.  Meghan Lindsay and Michael Fedyshyn welcomed us with the Aubade for Two Voices and bid us farewell with Departure.  Both were made the more haunting from the performers being out of sight.  Choir 21 with conductor David Fallis sang two sets.  First came the three hymns from The Fall into Light which appropriately set texts drawn from the Manichaean tradition.  There was some wonderfully precise singing here.  The second set was perhaps more light hearted with Epitaph for Moonlight which was written for amateur performance and the playful Fire which, besides singing, involves banging rocks together.

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Water Passion

WaterPassion-v3Tan Dun’s Water Passion After St. Matthew, given last night by Soundstreams at Trinity St. Paul’s is very Tan Dun.  The work is in nine movements and scored for chorus, soprano and bass-baritone soloists, violin, cello, electronics and lots of percussion.  And bowls of water and rocks.  The texts broadly follow the Passion story finishing with a final Resurrection movement in which water is the symbol of rebirth, recycling and spiritual completeness.  There are also ritual elements.  Bowls of water laid out in a cruciform pattern are lit from beneath.  The musicians change position and the players, especially the percussionists, perform hieratic gestures with the water bowls and their contents.  It also involves a complex and dramatic lighting plot.

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Song for Athene

johntavenerLast night’s Soundstreams concert at Trinity St. Paul’s was devoted to works by John Tavener and people who were close to him.  The principal performers were soprano Patricia Rozario, Choir 21 and the Toronto Children’s Chorus joined, as needed by Christopher Dawes on piano and organ and Erica Goodman on harp.  Conducting duties were split between Elise Bradley and David Fallis.  There was plenty of explanatory material from artistic director Lawrence Cherney plus some from Ms. Rozario as well as taped comments from Tavener to set up the pieces.

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