Time flies when you’re singing! Ekoos Vocal Ensemble will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year by presenting a concert on Saturday, May 10, at Holy Trinity Church.
To honour the choir’s roots, the program will include three pieces which were performed at Ekoos’ premiere concert back in June 1994. All are from the Renaissance, reflecting the choir’s love of music from this period, Since First I Saw Your Face, Innsbruck and Almighty and Everlasting God.
Ekoos is a small group of singers who enjoy performing a wide variety of a cappella (unaccompanied) choral music. Our repertoire includes sacred and secular music, ranging from Renaissance motets and madrigals to pieces composed in the 21st century.
Despite its fairly short history of 20 years, controversy exists over the group’s origins. Some say it dates back to the 1970’s when Connie More conducted a small choir in Sooke called Musicke of Sundrie Kindes. Others insist this is “a kinde of mythe,” and that actually Ekoos had an independent beginning in the 1990’s.
And where did the name “Ekoos” come from? Here again, opinions vary. The name is indeed “Sooke” spelled backwards, but some say it rhymes with “echoes”, and others say it should be pronounced with an “ooh” as in Sooke.
Although a very harmonious group, this choir does not lack independently-minded members. During one lively rehearsal when varied musical opinions were being voiced, then-conductor Michael Peter stated in a moment of exasperation: “A choir is not a democracy!”
In any case, all agree that the first concert by Ekoos was under founding conductor, the Rev. Ken Gray. Other conductors since then have included David Clenman, Michael Peter, Christopher Symons, Cassandra Miller, Wade Noble, and our current conductor, Peter Dent.
Now in his fourth year as conductor of Ekoos, Peter Dent is well-known as a choral conductor, jazz musician, and leader of musical ensemble tours to Europe, Cuba, and New York City.
“Working with Ekoos has been a joy! The choir sings at a high standard and I’m particularly impressed with its ability to perform contemporary works with such artistry,” Dent commented.
Regarding the upcoming program, Dent noted, “The most ambitious works are two 19th century settings of “Christus Factus Est.” The setting by Anton Bruckner is better known. Composed in 1884, it has been characterized by one reviewer as “idiosyncratic tone painting.”
“The setting by Josef Rheinberger is more traditional but also challenging, with an opening slow section followed by a rollicking fugue.”
In a departure from Ekoos’ focus on early, classical music, the choir will sing some modern works including a Brazilian folk song, a setting of a Rilke poem by Morten Lauridsen, and a love song by Billy Joel.
Rounding out the program, Fred Andrew on guitar and Warren Moore on flute will perform works by Bach and Dowland.
When members were asked to reflect on their experience with Ekoos, alto Dianne Copeland said, “I was talked into joining Ekoos while floating down the Vltava River in Prague. I met Peter in the summer of 2011 during his annual choir tour of the Czech Republic. The choristers came from all over Canada and the U.S. When Peter heard I was from Sooke, he asked me to consider joining Ekoos. I said, ‘Are you kidding? Those people are MUSICIANS!”
Long-time bass Fred Andrew summed it up thus, “Just years of pleasure and camaraderie in this little town. Flashes of brilliance… and sometimes not so brilliant, but always loads of very enjoyable times. Friends made for years, rally around the common cause. Who actually doesn’t want to sing? Definitely one of the best ways to spend a Thursday night!”
As always we welcome new singers, especially tenors and basses. The concert will be followed by a reception for reminiscing and refreshments inlcuding birthday cake.
Tickets are $12 and are available at thedoor.