File photo Ekoos Vocal Ensemble set to entertain with new works and seasonal favourites.

File photo Ekoos Vocal Ensemble set to entertain with new works and seasonal favourites.

Ekoos Vocal Ensemble presents a Leipzig Christmas

Many voices combine to present an evening of Christmas music

Ekoos Vocal Ensemble enters its 21st year of singing by presenting a concert of Christmas music.  The theme this year, “A Leipzig Christmas,” was chosen by conductor Peter Dent in celebration of his favourite German city.

Leipzig has a rich musical heritage, including being the city where Johann Sebastian  Bach and Felix Mendelssohn composed some of their most famous works.

As Dent describes, “One can wander the streets where Leipzig-born Richard Wagner walked; have lunch in Auerbachs Keller, which was immortalized in Goethe’s Faust; stroll by the Thomaskirche and stand in awe before the imposing statue of J.S. Bach; proceed across the Ring Road to the Mendelssohn Museum; and pass by the beautiful Nicolaikirche, where J.S. Bach premiered the St. John Passion, and where in 2012, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of conducting motets by Bach and Mendelssohn.”

Besides Bach and Mendelssohn, many other composers worked in Leipzig, some of whom may not be as familiar to today’s audiences. These include Johann Hermann Schein, Heinrich Schutz, Max Reger, Gustav Schreck, and Hugo Distler. Ekoos is excited to present works by these fine composers.

The prime focus of this concert, however, will be performances of Im Advent, a work scored for eight voices by Felix Mendelssohn, and of Lobet Den Herrn alle Heiden (Psalm 117), one of six great motets by J.S. Bach, a composer whom Mendelssohn reintroduced to 19th  Century audiences.

“Both these pieces present significant challenges for singers but give tremendous satisfaction when mastered and performed well,” Dent adds.

As in past concerts, Ekoos will balance the performance of new and more challenging pieces with a number of “old favourites” chosen by the choir members.

The concert will also feature some of the most beloved Christmas carols, played in a traditional style by “Duo West” with Ellen Himmer on cello and Heather Gatland on violin.

Please join us for an evening of new and familiar music for the festive season, followed by refreshments. The concert will be on Saturday Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 1962 Murray Road. Tickets $12 at the door.

In addition to this concert, Ekoos looks forward to singing for the residents at Ayre Manor in Sooke. The choir is also pleased to have been invited by the Canadian Club of Victoria to perform at their Traditional Christmas Tea at the Empress, which will be attended by the Lieutenant Governor.

Director Peter Dent who is well known both as a choral director and a jazz musician. For much of his early career Peter worked as an adult educator and arts administrator, maintaining music as a recreational activity. His developing amateur career as a baritone led him to consider music more and to study conducting with James Fankhauser and Phil Mattson. He has conducted musical ensembles on many tours of the Czech Republic and acted as a musical juror for two choral festivals there. In addition to Ekoos, he is also the Musical Director of the Newcombe Singers and Coro Galiano.

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