MINDEMOYA—Islanders were absolutely delighted June 16 when the Island Singers and the Stratford Concert Choir presented the ‘How Can I Keep From Singing?’ performance at the Mindemoya Missionary Church.
This was an outstanding recital and featured conductors Ian Sadler of Stratford and Chris Theijsmeijer of Gore Bay along with accompanists Imre Olah, Holly Scott and Linda Wilton.
The conductors spoke with The Expositor before the performance, and Mr. Sadler commented that he had been to the Island in the early ‘90s to inaugurate a new organ at the St. Francis of Assisi church in Mindemoya. He had also been to Manitoulin with his wife, also a singer, for a workshop with the church for a production of Peter and the Wolf.
Mr. Sadler mentioned that he is also the director of the Cathedral Singers of Ontario, a choir he started in 1999, and that has been invited to sing for a week at the 1,400-year-old magnificent Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England and also at the Canterbury Cathedral.
Mr. Sadler was particularly pleased that the Trillium Foundation had made it possible for him and 25 Stratford Concert Choir members to travel to Manitoulin and to cover some other expenses. It would now be possible to travel a few times a year to perform with other choirs. “Trillium also made it possible,” he said, “for us to purchase new music.”
Mr. Sadler is appreciative of the Island experience. “It is a delight to be here, and to make so many wonderful friends,” he said. “Members of the Island Singers choir have been wonderful to us.”
Mr. Sadler’s biography shows that he is a remarkable man. He began his musical training as a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England and was a Music Scholar at The King’s School in Canterbury, an Organ Scholar at both Bristol University and St. Paul’s Cathedral. In 1980, Mr. Sadler played the organ for the movie ‘Chariots of Fire.’ He moved to Canada following appointments in Toronto as Director of Music at Grace Church-on-the-Hill and Choral Director at Upper Canada College. He now maintains a career as a choral conductor and organist and has earned a Juno award for a choral CD and a Fellowship of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Mr. Theijsmeijer told The Expositor that he is a science and music graduate from the University of Western Ontario. He is currently the music teacher at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS). He leads instrumental music classes, extracurricular choir, and band, and has rejuvenated the school’s musical program. He explained that he has been with the Island Singers for about 10 years and took over as conductor when Dorothy Anstice retired.
“This has been an incredible experience,” Mr. Thesijsmeijer said and went on to explain that the Stratford group members are staying with various choir members around the Island. He expressed his appreciation to the Mindemoya Missionary Church and the women who provided the luncheon for choir members.
Accompanist Imre Olah was born in Hungary where he studied music with specializations in organ performance, choral music, and choral direction. He moved to Canada in 1989 and has served as music director and organist at many churches, presented organ recitals, and has accompanied choirs and soloists. He has performed organ recitals in Hungary, Germany, Italy and the United States. Mr. Olah holds the Associateship diploma from the Royal Canadian College of Organists and is the Artistic Director for the St. Elizabeth Scola Cantorum of Toronto. In 2018, the choir received the Rakoczi award from the Rakoczi Foundation for promoting Hungarian choral culture in Canada. He is the music director and organist at Caven Presbyterian Church in Bolton.
Accompanist Holly Scott has taught piano to countless students, participated with the Manitowaning Burn’s Wharf Theatre players, and organized local concerts for artists including Tafelmusik, Jon Kimura Parker, Janina Fialkowska, and others. She earned an ARCT as a student of well-known music professor Dr. Jon Gonder, and a Masters Degree from UCLA. She has retired as the performance accompanist for the Island Singers, but assists as a rehearsal accompanist. She is the choir director for the Mindemoya Missionary Church.
Also on the programme, accompanist Linda Wilton started learning piano when she was four years old and had formal lessons for 10 years. She has accompanied numerous religious choirs, singing groups, and soloists in Australia, Canada and the Philippines. Ms. Wilton has also composed a number of sacred choral pieces. She enjoys teaching the piano to children and passing on her love of music.
The evening began with the combined choirs singing ‘You Are In This Place’ by Michael John Trotta and featuring a quartet of Heather Theijsmeijer, Ann-Marie Scott, Ray Scott, and Alex Baran. Next was the Island Singers performing ‘River Song’ by Andy Black, ‘The Ash Grove,’ a traditional Welsh folk song with arrangement by Linda Steen Spevacek, a composer of modern choral music and featuring soloists Michelle Cooper and Theresa Webb. Of particular note was MSS student Cheyenne Barnes accompanying on the flute. This second group of songs also included ‘Whisper!’ by Greg Gilpin and ‘Come In From The Firefly Darkness’ by Robert Lowry with arrangement by Russell Robinson, composer, arranger, and conductor, and Emeritus Professor of Music Education at the University of Florida. This song featured soloists Jessica Jordison and Lydia Burlein.
The audience was particularly pleased with the next arrangement which was a piano duet featuring Mr. Sadler and Mr. Olah, performing Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C by the famous Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak. The applause was loud and long.
The Stratford Concert Choir was featured for the four section of the recital and sang Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from Solemn Vespers and featured soprano soloist Catherine Sadler. This was followed by a rendition of ‘Rise Up, My Love’ by Healey Willan, the well-known Canadian organist, and composer of more than 800 works. As Mr. Sadler pointed out, his music lives on 50 years after his death, and there are several commemorations taking place across Canada. The final song in this section was ‘O Mistress Mine’ by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The final songs before intermission included the combined choirs once again with the song ‘How Can I Keep From Singing’ by Gospel song and hymn writer Robert Lowry again arranged by Russell Robinson, and ‘Clap Your Hands and Sing!’ by American composer Mary Lynn Lightfoot who has over 260 published choral compositions, arrangements, and musicals.
The second half of this exceptional evening saw the performance of the Requiem, OP 48 by the famous French composer, arranger, and pianist, Gabriel Faure. He is probably best known for this orchestral –choral rendition for the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead in Latin. The warm, rich melodies focus on eternal rest and consolation.
Featured for the seven parts of the Requiem were soloists Catherine Sadler, soprano and Terry Marklevitz, bass. It begins with the Introit and Kyrie – Grant them rest eternal; Lord have mercy upon us, followed by the Offertory – O Lord God, save them from lasting darkness: let them pass from death to life eternal and then the Sanctus – Holy, Holy, Holy, glory to thee; Hosanna in the Highest. There then follows the Pie Jesu – Blessed Jesus, grant them eternal rest, the Agnus Dei, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, let light eternal shine upon them and the Libera Me – Deliver me, Lord, from death eternal upon the day of judgement; Trembling, I stand before Thee. The final part is the In Paradisum – In paradise be thou received by angel hosts, attended by blessed martyrs and guided into the Holy City of Jerusalem. Be thine eternal rest.
Of this work, Faure said, “My Requiem is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”