Great Lakes Choir returns from Scotland

July 28, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The Great Lakes Touring  Concert Choir composed of vocalists from the Headwaters’ Choir and Brampton Festival Singers returned July 20th from Scotland where they performed by invitation at historical St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and various locations throughout the country.

I had the honour of seeing the concert in St. Giles and witnessed the pride this choir brought to our region. It was an inspiring and moving experience for the 30 members of the choir who had been preparing for the performance since January. On July 16th, the ethereal blend of their voices in the vast 12th century cathedral brought the angels closer to earth.

Hundreds of listeners surrounded the choir, which sang from the loft in the central portion of the cathedral, under the spire arches and in front of the magnificent, three-story  pipe organ. Viewers came in from the busy streets of Edinburgh drawn by the sounds of their voices. The crowd seemed to take special delight in the realization that these were Canadians who had travelled over 6000 kilometres just to experience that musical moment, and share a common love of song with other travellers from around the world.

St. Giles was not the first invitation for the choristers to perform abroad. Founded by Conductor Robert Hennig a decade ago, the touring Concert Choir has performed at an impressive list of venues including Carnegie Hall, New York; St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome; Notre Dame Cathedral Paris; Esterhazy Palace Vienna; Lincoln Cathedral and St. Alban’s Cathedral England; as well as Salzburg and Prague.

Scottish sights on the musical tour included Edinburgh Castle, majestically overlooking the city from a high cliff; two national galleries; the world famous Blair Atholl Distillery; Clava Cairns, an ancient cemetery thought to be 4000 years old; Culloden Battlefield where hundreds of Highlanders fell for Prince Charlie in 1746; a ride on Harry Potter’s Jacobite train; a short cruise on Loch Ness (Nessie was believed to have been spotted several times;) and 1000 years of history in the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle.

But, next to the choir’s performance, the most spectacular experience in Scotland was driving through the Highlands.  For many on the tour, the picturesque and antiquated landscape, filled with miles of huge, time worn mountains spattered with boulders, lush, dense forests, gentle waterfalls, and crystal clear lakes, evoked vivid imagery of their stalwart, ancestral Scots fighting brutal, centuries old battles for life and independence – with the elements, rival clans, and the English.

   The Great Lakes Touring Choir concert, entitled “Love Notes to Canada,” featured Canadian compositions from our own beautiful country; from the west coast, the prairies, central Canada, and the Maritimes. The Conductor for the tour, Shelagh Tyreman, is also the music director at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Brampton. She holds three music degrees and is a classical singer, musical theatre performer and private teacher.

     While still in rehearsal, Ms. Tyreman called the sound of the choir “spectacular,” saying it was “life-affirming and deeply moving” for her.

A new work, “Autumn’s Orchestra” by composer and choir member James Brown, was commissioned especially for the Scotland performance based on the poetry of Canadian poet and performance artist E. Pauline Johnson. The composition came into its own in the grand acoustics of the cathedral, delivering vivid imagery and musical drama that befitted the medieval setting.

“The depth and quality of the Canadian compositions is inspiring,” said Ms. Tyreman, commenting on being “proud to be Canadian artists, representing Canada internationally.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved with the Headwaters’ Concert Choir – members “span all ages and walks of life” and rehearsals are every other Monday night –currently in Caledon. No auditions are required. Call or text for a consultation: 647-529-6752.

By Marni Walsh


Share Button

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.