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The Sounds of Inspiration


THUNDER BAY, ON ---  June 14, 2011  ----  In a city like Thunder Bay the formal concert season is all Susan Marrierbut over by May. It’s not that we don’t appreciate music any less but that we do appreciate the added sunlight, and the freedom to be outside without a jacket. When spring is around the corner it is very hard to sell a concert.

It is at this time of year that many cultural groups are busy with plans for the coming season, which begins when we get tired of going to camp and doing all our summer stuff. On reflection there have been some very good concerts this season. The dulcisono spring concert is a fine example.  After eight years the women’s choir has progressively developed since its inception to the point where the Spring Concert has been one of their best.

Reading from their website the group seeks enrichment through study and performance.  That is another term for hard work. I like the study aspect of their mandate since implies that they are open to new ideas. The special attraction for the spring concert was the appearance of harpist Andrew Chan. Well know in Toronto, Andrew has a special passion to introduce his instrument to as many people as possible. You might say that Thunder Bay is wide open territory for a professional harpist. While he was here he spent much of his time demonstrating and performing for school children young and old. This had an added benefit for the concert that followed as many of the students dragged their parents out to a delightful concert of music for women’s voices with harp.

This combination of harp and treble voices was exploited by composers such as Benjamin Britten who Andrew Chancomposed pieces such as “A Ceremony of Carols for Treble voices and Harp”  Britten also composed for the harp and his efforts helped keep the harp from being sidelined as a performing instrument.

Britten did not make this concert programme; however, the concert was anchored by the “Missa Brevis” by Latvian-Canadian composer Imant Raminsh (2004). The composition for women’s choir and orchestra was adapted by Ms Marrier for harp, oboe (beautifully played by Colleen Gibson) and tympani (played by David Burns). The inclusion of this piece is a result of the groups interest in study and the express desire to put a Canadian stamp on their performance style by presenting newly composed pieces for their audiences.  This can be a risky venture for a community based choral group since many in the audience would like to hear something more familiar.

If inspiration can have a sound then it would be in the programming of this concert. The added draw of Carol MacDonaldthe harp and Andrew Chan, the confidence imparted by Colleen Gibson on oboe and the groups talented accompanist Carol MacDonald have transformed a concert into an event.

The group has used their off time to plan their coming season. This is a technically competent choir. What makes them fascinating is how they build on each other’s strength and the strengths of the community to create something special. Music is happening here!

"Song and Harp Unite", had attendance figures that would make any cultural group in the city a little envious, that this concert occured on May 1st is like waiting for desert, the good stuff comes last! Quality preparation, inspired programing and a very special guest turned this concert into an event weill worth attending.

If you are interested in singing with this choir I commend you to their website, simply   Your time with the choir will be full of dedicated choral work, and good memories.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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