Spring concerts stacked with local talent, great tunes
Technically, it’s spring. There is one sure seasonal indicator: the spring concerts that are starting to pop up across the city. And none will be grander than the Festival Chorus’s western Canadian premiere of Ecce Cor Meum written by none other than Sir Paul McCartney.
Yes, THE Paul McCartney of Beatles fame.
Now in its 52nd year, the Festival Chorus is one of Calgary’s oldest choirs. Its roughly 80 members come from all walks of life, but share a common love of great choral music.
Ecce Cor Meum means “Behold my Heart.”
McCartney’s wife Linda died while he was writing it.
Festival Chorus artistic director Mel Kirby describes the hour-long work as being “an expression of the feelings about the death of his wife, as well as his searching for love and the idea of finding love in the contemporary world.”
“It seems a bit like a combination of a mass and a requiem mass,” Kirby explains, though the work is in English, with brief portions in Latin.
However, Kirby says, “he can’t resist being Paul McCartney,” noting that portions within Ecce Cor Meum reflect Beatles tunes.
The Cantare Children’s Choir will accompany the Festival Chorus.
The 40-piece Festival Orchestra with Neil Cockburn on pipe organ will accompany the singers.
Ecce Cor Meum takes place Saturday, April 9, at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.
Tickets and information: 403-294-9494 or thefestivalchorus.com.
Western Hospitality Singers and Calgary Sings!
Continuing with the choral theme, this Saturday also marks Calgary Sings! This event brings together nine adult community choirs ranging from the Calgary Multicultural Choir to the Silver Stars Musical Revue.
Proceeds from ticket sales go toward music therapy programs at Carewest continuing care centres. The evening will culminate with a choir of some 400 voices.
One of the choirs performing is a barbershop chorus called the Western Hospitality Singers. Bob Robson, who has been with the Singers since its inception in 1986, describes the 35-member group as “a big barbershop quartet.”
The barbershop quartet is another form of classical tradition in its own right, albeit one without symphony orchestras and pipe organs. In fact, barbershop quartets sing entirely a cappella.
Today, the Barbershop Harmony Society counts about 26,000 men from Canada and the United States as members.
The society also hosts competitions in which the Western Hospitality Singers compete, often travelling to the States to sing.
Robson says they’re hoping to attract some younger singers to help the barbershop style flourish. In fact, the Western Hospitality Singers recently provided money to 15 Calgary high schools, so they could pur- chase sheet music for their a cappella choirs.
“We want to get young singers exposed to the barbershop style because, when they leave high school or university, they may no longer have a place to sing.
“So, we’re planting the seeds for a hobby they can do at any time in their life,” Robson explains.
Besides offering up classic barbershop quartet fare like Goodnight, Irene, the Western Hospitality Singers also perform doo-wop music, country and western tunes and contemporary selections.
Calgary Sings! takes place Saturday, April 9, at Knox United Church. For tickets and information: 403-2630079 or sing4fun.ca.
Putting it together — Front Row Centre Players
For the second year in a row, Front Row Centre Players is hosting a cabaretstyle event featuring, this year, a musical revue by Stephen Sondheim.
Sondheim wrote Putting it Together in the early 1990s, stringing together songs from some of his most famous musicals (e.g., Sweeney Todd and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) with those from his lesserknown works like A Little Night Music. Unlike a standard revue, this one has a storyline running through it, so Sondheim rewrote lyrics here and there to advance the plot. The original Broadway production featured Julie Andrews, marking her return to the New York theatre after more than a 25-year absence.
Putting it Together runs until April 9 at the Community Arts Centre’s Easterbrook Theatre. Tickets and info: 403-216-0808 or frontrowcentre.ca.