Strife and Harmony is the theme of the regular Sooke Chamber Players concerts on March 22 and March 23. These concerts mark the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I. The program includes the Mass in Time of War by Haydn, with the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus; Song of Flanders by Brent Straughan, with soprano Nancy Washeim; The Lark Ascending for violin and orchestra by Vaughan Williams, with soloist Ceilidh Briscoe; and Samuel Barber’s famous Adagio for Strings.
For composer Straughan, this is an exciting concert. He will be playing in the second violin section for the Canadian première of his own piece. His first musical love is composing, and he says he is glad to be able to contribute to the memory of that “first” terrible war.
“I had an uncle in Victoria who lied about his age at 17 to become a stretcher bearer at the battle of Vimy in 1917,” he said.
Straughan started his composing early.
“I can recall at age two, in Mayerthorpe Alberta, regularly getting out my mother’s pots and pans from under the oven and happily thrashing them about,” Straughan told us.
He has grown musically since then. Song of Flanders, written for a large choir, soloists and full orchestra, has been recorded with the Philharmonica Bulgarica Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Valeri Vatchev, with the addition of Canadian soloists Megan Skidmore, soprano, and Bill Kelly, bass. This recording, available on Apple iTunes®, came in fifth “in the world” at the Just Plain Folks music awards in Nashville.
“People like it, because they can hum bits of it. It makes sense. There is something anyone can take home from it in their head,” Straughan said.
Vocal soloists for the March concerts feature the well-known Sooke soprano, Nancy Washeim, as well as Tashi Meisami Farivar (mezzo soprano), Josh Lovell (tenor) and Nick Allen (bass).
Ceilidh Briscoe, violin soloist in The Lark Ascending, was the second prize winner in the Sooke Philharmonic Don Chrysler Concerto Competition for Young Musicians in April, 2013. Victoria audiences also know Briscoe as a rousing young fiddler. The Vaughan Williams work, inspired by George Meredith’s poem by the same name, was written at the beginning of the “Great War” and is a favourite with audiences everywhere.
Haydn’s Mass in Time of War was written for a different war, this one in 1796, between Austria and France. The music suggests a fearsome, rather than glorious war. The mass will be sung by the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus.
The concert closes with the simple, heart-breaking Adagio, written by Samuel Barber in 1936.
The Sooke concert, on Saturday, March 22 at the Baptist Church on West Coast Road, begins at 7:30 p.m. The concert in Metchosin, at New St. Mary’s Church on Metchosin Road, is on Sunday, March 23, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the door, in Sooke at Little Vienna Bakery, Shoppers Drug Mart, the South Shore Gallery and Wood Travel. In Metchosin at the Metchosin Country Store, and in the Westshore at Tom Lee Music, and in Victoria at Long & McQuade and Ivy’s Bookshop.
To buy tickets online and for more information, visit the Sooke Philharmonic website: www.sookephil.ca