Missae 1 All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral, Edmonton
When I first saw this title I was perplexed. Would this be carried through the rest of the season or would it be more than 1 season? Well the answer is the later, as was told to those who attended this stunning performance last Sunday November 3, 2013 through the notes of Michael Zaugg, soon to be Edmonton resident and Conductor/Artistic Director of Pro Coro Canada. The concert began with two announcements of particular interest to those who follow Mr Zaugg – firstly, that he was successful in gaining Canadian Citizenship and secondly that he and his wife and family would be relocating to Edmonton from Montreal in December. This would make Mr Zaugg the second resident conductor for Pro Coro Canada. I really want to see what kind of additional shaking up this does in the rapidly filling Edmonton Choral scene.
Michael wrote in the program notes that this was the first in a multi year series of Mass works, all masterpieces in their own right. He also wrote that we should take notes and keep the programme so we could compare “how the different works represent the same text, or how you felt the impact.” I can tell you how my youngest son and I felt the impact – comments like “that was awesome” and “Wow” were in tweets sent after the concert as the whole experience was just so wonderful.
This is Michael’s second year at the helm of Pro Coro Canada and, as the MC said at the beginning of the concert, this is the best professional choral ensemble in Canada – I for one could not agree more! This is my second year as a season subscriber, the first year as a result of a silent auction package and this year in my own right. I brought my youngest son along because he has just joined the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus and I wanted him to see what could be in his future if he wanted to go that route. He was very impressed with both the repertoire, the intonation, the poise of the individual artists and the pure wonderful sound – OK some of those are my thoughts and feelings – but I’m sure I am not misspeaking for him.
Michael had chosen the Missa Brevis by Matthew Emery for the first piece – a world premiere. At the end of the piece my son just leaned over to me and said “that was awesome!” Need I say more?
The next piece was by a Swiss composer Frank Martin the “Messe pour double choeur (excerpts). It too was amazing to listen to. I was struck by this movement and others throughout the night of just the wondrous harmonies, even when they were discordant. That Pro Coro Canada carried this off with only 26 voices speaks volumes. Michael spoke about how the Martin piece was not finished right away by the composer and that there was usually a Samuel Barber Agnus Dei chosen to finish the set – he was right, it gave the end of the first half the finish it deserved.
Liam and I spent our intermission talking to Brian – father of one of the Pro Coro Canada Tenors and friend of mine from many Cantilon Choir Broadway productions. We spoke of the Secret Garden – a possible future production by Cantilon and of the Sondheim musical “The Company” which had just been featured at Cineplex – starring Neil Patrick Harris among others. Conversation done and a cookie devoured we went back to our seats for the second half.
For the bottom half Michael had chosen the Missa Rigensis by Ugis Praulins which featured a number of the ensemble in various solo parts – it was glorious as was the Sanctus:London by Ola Gjello which completed the night. We stood at the end and gave a standing ovation. As well my son just turned to me and stated “WOW!”
At this point I cannot wait to see what other auditory pleasures Michael has in store for us for the rest of the season and am very intrigued about how this multi season concept will work. Regardless, Ta Ta For Now!!