Capella (Vancouver Chamber Choir). Guest review by @mehnazt

Review: Cappella by the Vancouver Chamber Choir

Choral music has coloured my life for close to two decades now. When Raul offered me an opportunity to review the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s concert, Cappella, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

My sister and I arrived at Christ Church Cathedral in time for a talk by John William Trotter, Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Chamber Choir. He described the stories of the composers, the histories of the pieces, and musical highlights to look for during performance.

The choir was joined by participants from its Focus! professional development program, including members of the BC Girl’s Choir, Capilano University Singers and Douglas College Choir. They performed as a mass choir at the beginning and end of the concerts.

I am never disappointed by the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s artistic versatility, interpretive depth and ability to showcase music by both established and emerging composers from around the world. The first part of the concert contained works from Europe, and Canada including a piece entitled Simple Pictures of Tomorrow by Bob Chilcott, which premiered last week at the opening of the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s new exhibit, Hiroshima.

The second part of the concert featured a series of premieres, some of which have not quite been published yet! Swiss, Swedish, Mexican and American composers set their music to surrealist and sacred poems, as well as Shakespearean sonnets.

The experience of seeing a world-class, award-winning choir one of Vancouver’s historic landmarks can be surpassed by few things in this world. The choir dances through the notes, creating a rich and warm pool of sound. Jon Washburn, conductor of the choir lent his special brand of humour to the concert, which made listening to the commentary as entertaining as the repertoire.

If I had to pick a favourite, it would keep me up the better part of the evening. One of them was Washburn’s own new arrangement of Dona Nobis Pacem (translated to “Give Us Peace” in Latin) – which also premiered at the MOA last week. The choir members spoke the word “peace” in forty different languages, as the phrase was chanted in Japanese, Latin and English. Simultaneously light-hearted and meaningful, the arrangement epitomized the universality of peace, and of music and their ability to bring people together, just as we had gathered in a church on a rainy Vancouver Friday night.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir has a full season of exciting music coming up. For more details, visit their website


This review was kindly written by Mehnaz Thawer in exclusive for Hummingbird604.com. Tickets for Mehnaz’s review were kindly provided by the Vancouver Chamber Choir. Mehnaz blogs at Speak Softly and Carry a Pen. You can also follow her on Twitter: @mehnazt

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