Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
The Avanti Chamber Singers have been featured in the West Niagara News. Read the original article by Tom Wilkinson, or continue reading below.
A concert on Nov, 17 by the Avanti Chamber Singers - including Jordan Station resident Melissa Shriner - will feature Magnificat text in three languages from three eras and three geographical locations, says conductor Dr. Harris Loewen.
“Magnificat” refers to a text proclaimed by the virgin Mary after the visitation with her cousin, Elizabeth. It is considered one of the eight most-ancient Christian hymns and Shriner says it's a very moving text.
"The Magnificat text is something that speaks to so many people and, when it is set to music, it can elevate the soul even more, regardless of your religious affiliation," Shriner said.
Shriner holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Brock University. She has been singing in Loewen's choirs every year since starting university in 1998 and became a founding member of the Avanti Chamber Singers when the choir started. She owns and operates a vocal studio in Jordan Station, teaching voice lessons. She has also studied opera and the Italian language in Italy and she is currently studying opera with Dr. Mary-Lou Vetere.
"This concert is a mixture of old and new music, featuring Vivaldi's Magnificat sung in Latin ( this will be accompanied by the St. Catharines Chamber Society String Quartet), an English Magnificat by professor emeritus of the music department at Brock, Ronald Tremain, both for which I am singing the soprano solo parts, and a gorgeous German madrigal by Schutz," Shriner wrote in an email to West Niagara News.
Also to be presented that evening are the Ode to St Cecilia by Purcell, featuring several other beautiful solo voices from the choir; a featured solo of Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido; and Aeneas, where Shriner will be featured as soprano soloist.
"The concert also features the music from our very first CD, A Glorious Light, which features Christmas music from local composers Peter Landey, Eric Gero, Michael Kositsky and John Butler, among others," she said.
Shriner said the music is both beautiful and challenging to sing.
"I love the contrast between the different settings of the Magnificat and how they each tell their own story about this ancient text through the various melodies and harmonies," she said.
"The choir, through Dr. Harris Loewen's excellent and precise conducting, is able to bring out delicate subtleties and nuances which are sure to evoke an emotional response from the audience."
Loewen said the Viva Voce Choral Series includes fall and spring concerts by Brock University's student choir and four concerts a year by the Avanti Chamber Singers.
Viva Voce means "long live the voice" in Latin, he said. "It's just a way of giving our choral series a verbal logo.”
He said that although the text of The Magnificat would be the same, the audience would hear the three pieces as very different pieces.
Loewen has a doctorate in choral conducting and is a solo and ensemble singer. He has conducted various choirs in southern Ontario and teaches courses at Brock in choral conducting and choral methods and conducts the university's men's, women's and mixed choruses.
He is also the founding conductor of the Avanti Chamber Singers, which formed in 2006.
Dr. Loewen says that Shriner's voice appears on the CD as a solist several times.
"She's our star soloist for Avanti Chamber Singers," he said.
The second half of the concert will feature the work of several local composers including Eric Gero, Peter Landey, MIchael Kositsky and John Butler.
The concert takes place at St. Barnabas Anglican Church at 31 Queenston Street in St. Catharines, this Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students and $5 for eyeGo high school students. Tickets are available at the door, but the public is advised to get their tickets in advance, from Ryson's Music in downtown St. Catharines, the Brock Music Department (905-688-5550 ext. 3817) or any member of the Avanti Chamber Singers.