For its second-last concert of the 2023-24 season, Origins + exploration, award-winning Chronos Vocal Ensemble is hosting a collaborative performance with many members of Edmonton’s spirited choral community.
Chronos will share the stage with the University of Alberta Concert Choir and the U of A Madrigal Singers. This collaboration is special in that at least a third of Chronos singers are alumni of these ensembles. Many founding singers of Chronos were particularly Madrigal Singers alumni, according to Chronos conductor Jordan Van Biert.
Collaborative concert shows U of A’s legacy throughout Edmonton’s choral community
Van Biert completed his Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting at the U of A. During his degree he made strong connections with the U of A Concert Choir, having been a singer and conductor for the ensemble.
Van Biert is also a Madrigal Singers alumnus. He added that Adam Robertson, the conductor of the U of A Concert Choir, and Tim Shantz, the conductor of the Madrigal Singers, both once sang for the choirs as well.
“[The concert] shows the legacy. It’s not just about the singers having this relationship with the department [of music]” Van Biert said. “But also the way that the department and these two choirs have helped contribute to the choral community, by providing leaders for choral ensembles throughout the city.”
The U of A Concert Choir is an auditioned, student ensemble. The choir has already collaborated with the Madrigal Singers during this season. This concert with Chronos and the Madrigal Singers, however, is a “great performance opportunity” for students, Robertson said.
“This type of collaboration is so valuable. It not only teaches us how other people make music, and how other conductors and ensembles work. It gives us a chance to band together as a larger, musical community.”
Concert’s repertoire follows a celestial theme featuring Indigenous and Edmonton-based composers
The concert’s content will have great variety both stylistically and semantically, Van Biert explained.
Van Biert added that Sewepagaham directly taught her composition to the Madrigal Singers and Shantz. As well, both Shantz and Van Biert have strong connections with Balfour from working on performance and recording projects, as well as commissions.
A celestial star theme runs throughout the repertoire list. A popular choral piece, “Stars,” by Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds, will be sung. The composition involves the use of wine glasses, which emphasize that celestial aspect to the concert.
“That will be a cool thing for audiences to experience in a grand scale with this number of singers,” Van Biert said. The wine glasses add a “really ethereal, otherworldly quality.”
Specific to Chronos, the choir will sing two pieces by Edmonton-based composers. This includes U of A alumnus Stuart Beatch, who is both a Chronos singer and the composer-in-residence. Chronos will be performing Beatch’s composition “Girl Hours.”
“It’s based on stories of female astronomers from the turn of the 20th century, and highlights their role in making various discoveries and the way they were unrepresented in history,” Van Biert described. “It’s a gorgeous setting and beautiful poem.”
The other local composition that Van Biert highlighted is “and Einstein said” by Trent Worthington. The piece features six different sayings of Einstein that “span the profound and philosophical to the ridiculous and humorous in a huge variety musical of styles.” Both Beatch and Worthington will be present at the concert.