Monday, October 14, 2013

The Canadian Chamber Choir Brings Their Voice To BC

Every year, 18 professional choristers unite from across the country to form the Canadian Chamber Choir, under the leadership of conductor, Dr. Julia Davids. Their mandate is to foster choral music performance, perform works by Canadian composers as well as provide education opportunities for apprentice conductors and community workshops. Even though the CCC only assembles for a short time, their temporary presence has the ability to unite individualized pockets of the choral community wherever they visit.

The upcoming New Waters progam by the CCC will take them to Vancouver Island and the lower BC mainland. A feature work on the program revolves around the merging of two Icarus works. When I asked Davids about her inspiration behind pairing these two entities, she likens the design of the program to an artistic process, “sometimes you bump into something at the right time," she states with intuitive clarity. Erik Ross's Icarus in the Sea was initially a blind commission, which meant that Ross could write any piece for any choir and he decided to set poetry by Lorna Crozier to music for the CCC. The story of Icarus is a famous one:

Trapped on the Isle of Crete, Icarus dons wings made of wax in an attempt to escape. Consumed with the grandeur of flight, he ignores his father’s warning not to fly too close to the sun. The wings melt and Icarus falls into the sea ... 

Ross' Icarus in the Sea encapsulates the descent of Icarus and describes the hazy underwater images he sees. The CCC has toured with this piece before but Davids notes “works may completely evolve as we perform them throughout the tour.” The constant evolution and editing process is due in part to the close collaboration between the choir and composers. Sensing the audience focus required in Icarus in the Sea, the choir has since paired their performance with visual movement, choreographed by Claire Leger. Dancer, Matthew Peach, plays Icarus who has wings made out of bamboo and the choir participates in the movement of the performance as well.

Most recently, Davids was referred to work by Vancouver-based composer, Kristopher Fulton. She took a listen to Fulton's Icarus on his website and found it was the perfect compliment to Ross' Icarus in the Sea. Fulton's piece encapsulates a rhythmic excitement and describes the ascension of Icarus into the sky, finishing in D major. Ross' piece, chronicling Icarus' decent, begins in D minor. "I feel like these pieces were meant to be together," Davids says while revealing she has goose bumps just reminiscing about this realization.

The role of music education plays an important role with the CCC. “It’s so much a part of who we are,” Davids states with honesty. Davids custom designs every workshop that the CCC holds. This may include vocal technique discussions or perhaps providing support to male singers in a highschool choir by having the CCC singers modeling different types of tones that can be produced with male voices. “It depends on what the organization needs," for example, “the CCC will function as a lab choir [at UBC] and instead of just conducting a class of their peers, conducting students get to work with a top-level choir and really see what the nuances of their gesture can do and what sort of effect they’ll have on their music when people are really sensitive to what they’re doing.”

Conductors, teachers, composers, pianists, and many other professional comprise the fabric of the CCC. The diversity of the CCC highlights the ability to unite the love of choral music we have across this country. Davids reveals that she wishes to visit communities of all sizes across Canada in the future, citing hopeful tours to Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Manitoba. 

Until that time, I’d encourage BC audiences to take in performances by the CCC this week. It's always empowering to see local choral communities assemble to greet new voices in town. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 

School workshops in the Victoria Area.
In Concert with Victoria’s Vox Humana

Date & Time: October 16th @ 8pm
Venue: St. John the Divine, 1611 Quadra St, Victoria, BC
For tickets and info, visit

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Workshop with the Douglas College Chamber Choir
Date and Time: October 17th, 2013. @ TBA
Church Choir Workshop
Date and Time:
October 17th, 2013. @ 7pm
Venue: Holy Rosary Cathedral, 646 Richards St, Vancouver, BC
Click here for e-poster

Friday, October 18th, 2013

School workshops in the North Vancouver Area.
Workshop with Capilano University Cap Singers, North Vancouver

Saturday, October 19, 2013 


BC Choral Federation Community Workshop
Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church
2733 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC
10:00am – 12:00pm
Click here for e-poster

In Concert at St.Mary’s

Date & Time:
October 19th @ 7:30pm
Venue: St. Mary’s Kerrisdale, 2490 West 37 Ave., Vancouver, BC
Cost: $25
Tickets can be purchased here
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Date & Time: October 20th, @ 11am
VenueHoly Rosary Cathedral, 646 Richards St, Vancouver, BC


Canadian Chamber Choir said...

Thanks Sable for posting about the CCC!
Shaw TV came to one of our workshops - here's some of the video:

Anonymous said...

Wondering if you have a video of the Erik Ross Icarus in the Sea. I am doing a concert on flight and would love to see a score.


Matthew Mehaffey