Sacred and secular, familiar favorites, and adventurous new works best describe the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and Chorus’ concert Songs and Psalms next month.
Featured are performances of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer, Nicholas Fairbank’s original composition Canción Amazónica, and Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes
“I wanted to offer audiences an easy listening program that will appeal to a variety of musical tastes,” said director Nicholas Fairbank. “The program showcases the full range of abilities of the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and Chorus.”
Leonard Bernstein’s musically challenging 1965 composition Chichester Psalms features fresh edgy rhythms delivered by percussion, brass and strings, with a pivotal role for the harp. The chorus sings Old Testament Psalms in Hebrew with guest soloist countertenor Gary Sun.
Hear my Prayer, Oh God, incline thine ear! is one of Felix Mendelssohn’s most popular and widely known works, composed in 1844. Based on the text of Psalm 55, the work is sung in English and features guest soprano soloist Nancy Washeim.
Canción Amazónica or Song of the Amazon was inspired by a visit Nicholas Fairbank made to the town of Pucallpa, on a tributary of the Amazon River. Sung mostly in Spanish, the texts are based on poetry and prose of local writers from the region.
Fairbank’s original score reflects regional musical themes and melodies from the region. There are five movements. As a unique twist, Fairbank has included as the first and last movements recordings of songs of Welcome and Farewell, performed for him by locals in the region.
The program ends with Johannes Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, a collection of relatively short movements that encompass a variety of emotions and moods.
Composed in 1888, these waltzes were first performed with piano accompaniment in parlors and informal home gatherings and helped solidify Brahms’ reputation in Vienna and Europe.
Sun, born in Taiwan, performs regularly as a violist and a countertenor in Vancouver and Victoria, conducts chamber groups and string orchestras, and is a dedicated Taiwanese pop-music arranger and songwriter.
As a countertenor, Sun was awarded the first Prize in the 2015-16 Capilano University Scholarship Competition and is studying at the Victoria Conservatory.
Sooke resident Washeim’s international and national career has featured solo performances with a wide range of musical organizations.
Songs and Psalms concerts are held April 6 at the Sooke Community Hall and in Colwood on April 7 at Royal Roads University Quarterdeck Ballroom.
Tickets are available online at sookephil.ca or in Sooke at the Little Vienna Bakery, Shoppers Drug Mart and South Shore Gallery and in Westshore at the Royal Bay Bakery and Shoppers Drug Mart in West Shore Town Center.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 seniors and students. Free admission for youth 18 and younger.