The Calgary Renaissance Singers and Players showed the spirit of the era is alive and well with a concert that celebrated the best music of the past and present.
“It was spectacular,” said alto Suzanne Agha. “All the energy of working for months and months and then finally getting to put together a performance was a really sparkling evening. I was really proud of how we did.”
The idea for the concert came to artistic director Jane Perry after hearing audience members say that the pieces they’d enjoyed most at recent concerts were those composed within the last 50 years. This feedback inspired Perry to program a season with concerts featuring both music from the Renaissance and music inspired by the period.
Speaking of the Spirit of the Renaissance concert repertoire, Perry said “It takes some of the ideas and the harmonies and the sounds of early music, and filters it through a modern view. So I thought it might be fun to do a little more of that. The audience response to the concert this evening shows that that was a good choice. I think people really enjoyed it.”
Audience members confirmed Perry’s assessment.
“I think it’s good for the choir to sing everything, pieces from different eras,” said Marian Zekulin. “And for me as a person listening, I liked the change.from the Renaissance to the modern era. I liked that change—it made you sit up and pay attention.”
“I like that idea for the choir,” seconded Brandis Purcell, “because there are so many modern composers who are so heavily influenced by Renaissance composers, and they deserve to have their voice heard.”
Audience favourites included Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Ubi Caritas, and In Dulci Jubilo, which featured a double-choir setting.
“Lots of people enjoyed the way we performed Michael Praetorius’ In Dulci Jubilo where part of the choir was on the stage in front of the audience and part of the choir was in the balcony behind the audience,” noted Perry. “The result was that the audience was surrounded by choristers both in front and behind, and I think it was a really cool sonic experience for people sitting in the audience.”
Perry drew on a wide range of sources of inspiration for the concert including chorister recommendations, personal favourites, and pieces she found online.
“I think like a lot of choral conductors these days who are looking for new things. I went on the Internet and just looked around at who was writing what,” Perry said, “and stumbled upon this wonderful arrangement of Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming by a Swedish composer named Jan Sandstrom. Just ethereal—the setting is amazing. So they come to me from all over the place, these pieces.” And there are plenty more where those came from.
This season’s second concert will feature additional contemporary works. Perry thinks that while the proportion of modern to Renaissance music might change in future seasons, the “Spirit of the Renaissance” will continue to inspire CRSP.
- by Kenzie Love