With the swell of song and strings

The Victoria Mendelssohn Choir celebrates the coming of spring.

Maestro Simon Leung conducts members of the Victoria Mendelssohn Choir and string chamber orchestra.

Maestro Simon Leung conducts members of the Victoria Mendelssohn Choir and string chamber orchestra.

Heralding the arrival of spring with an afternoon of beloved classical music, the Victoria Mendelssohn Choir is putting on a performance celebrating some of the best German and Austrian music in the last few centuries.

The choir, accompanied by a string chamber orchestra, piano and harpsichord, has invited two local soloists to join their ranks for the performance: soprano Anna Shill and tenor Joshua Lovell.

Both are incredibly talented, says choir conductor Simon Leung.

“We have one of the city’s most fantastic sopranos. I’d worked with Anna when she was just 14, and now she has her masters and is teaching,” he says. “And Josh is developing so beautifully. He’s someone we really should be paying attention to. He will become one of the tenors of our time.”

The two will lend their voices to a variety of selections from the romantic and baroque era.

Many of them based on hymns, scripture or poetry, the pieces from Bach, Schubert and Mendelssohn are just as impacting now as they were when they were first written centuries ago.

“We’re using a piece from when Bach was still a young man,” says Leung.

Cantata No. 4 is “a satirical way of looking at life and death and how life wins over death,” its lighthearted and sprightly nature matching the theme of the afternoon, he says.

Balancing sombre tones with the lightheartedness of spring, the choir will also perform several pieces by Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

Schubert, who wrote more than 600 pieces in his short lifetime, composed several that take on the sorrow of death and the joy of the afterlife, as well as the eternally romantic Serenade, which inspires a swelling heart in any listener.

Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock will also be performed, a landmark piece in showing how classical music can capture the raw essence of emotion.

“It has every bit of emotion that one must go through, in one short song,” says Leung.

Composed in the final months of his life, the piece was written as a response to a request from Pauline Anna Milder-Hauptmann, a soprano and friend of Schubert.

She wanted a song that allowed her to express every emotion, and he rose to the challenge, demonstrating an almost preternatural understanding of the gamut of the human experience that is all the more impressive given his death at the premature age of just 31.

And being the Victoria Mendelssohn Choir, the program wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from the German composer.

“We are using two of his songs,” says Leung. “Hear My Prayer, which was written for the Scottish people, and that piece was actually written in English.”

“It’s very uplifting, very elated kind of music,” he says.

Closing out the performance will be the second Mendelssohn selection, For He Shall Give His Angels Charge Over Thee.

“It’s a very lovely piece,” says Leung. “It consists of an eight-part chorus. It’s very complicated, but it’s very soothing. It’s like clouds floating in mid-air.

“We’re going to use this one as the last one in our program to send people home in peace.”

The choir performs at 3 p.m. on May 2 at the Oak Bay United Church, 1355 Mitchell Street.

They are in Sidney at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 3 at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 10030 Third Street.

Tickets are $20, available at the door or from Tanner’s Books in Sidney, Russell Books or Long & McQuade in Victoria, or Ivy’s Bookshop in Oak Bay.

For more information, email cchay@live.ca or call 250-590-6335.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blue Bridge Theatre
Stratford star teams up with Blue Bridge Theatre

A New Take on a Perennial Favourite

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s Playbill Dining Room reopened to host small musical performances. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Theatre receives Island Coastal Economic Trust funding

Project will involve recording and live-streaming Playbill Presents series content

Nanaimo ballerina Jillian Vanstone is giving a hometown performance at the Port Theatre on Dec. 12. (Photo courtesy Karolina Kuras)
National Ballet of Canada principal dancer’s hometown return postponed

Nanaimo’s Jillian Vanstone will celebrate favourite choreographer at the Port Theatre at a later date

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

Most Read