Hands on Logo

Date 5 February 2005, 8pm Venue Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 12th Avenue

Reviewer John Jane


 

 

 

Principal Conductor Jon Washburn

In order: Michael Tamte-Horan (Pennsylvania), Goran Jerkovic (Croatia), Marg Stubbington (Ottawa), Peter Butterfield (BC), John Goulart (Alberta), and Michael Zaugg (Switzerland)


Maestro Jon Washburn
Jon Washburn

Hands On! The Conductor’s Art, the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s sixth concert of their 2004-05 season was, in fact, the final phase of a week- long National Conductors Symposium, an annual event that draws choral conductors from Canada and around the world to participate in master conductorJon Washburn’s choral clinic.

This year five men and one woman with an average age of around thirty-five gave a public performance with a special selection of works designed to showcase the guest conductors' different styles of choral interpretation.

The evening commenced with Maestro Washburn providing an insightful demonstration of some basic techniques used in shaping the sound of a professional choir. For any who consider a conductor has the easiest of jobs and all he/she needs to do is wave the hands around dramatically, this was indeed an eye-opener.

Using the Twelfth Madrigal from Gian Carlo Menotti’s work eventually performed in the second half of the concert, Washburn picked out elements such as blend, tone, balance, and diction as just a few of the details a conductor must pay attention to. In addition to illustrating the effects of precise direction, Washburn also provided the audience with a few humourous examples of misconducting, or “How easy it is to confuse the choir.”


 

w
w
w
.
r
e
v
i
e
w
V
a
n
c
o
u
v
e
r
.
o
r
g

The remainder of first half of the concert was devoted to performing Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de Confessore, K. 339, with each of the participating conductors rotating through the six psalms in turn. In traditional Roman Catholic practice, vespers are said or sung in Latin each evening. The concluding Magnificat is particularly relevant during Advent.

Following a brief intermission, we heard Monteverdi's appropriately melancholic Lagrime d'amante al sepolcro dell'amata in the original Italian. The passing of his beloved muse Caterina Martinelli provided the catalyst for this overwhelmingly poignant score, and all the choirs' guest conductors managed successfully to interpret Monteverdi's trail-blazing style.

Last on the programme, an abbreviated form of Menotti’s comedic allegory, The Unicorn, The Gorgon, and The Manticore. Slavery to fashion and pack mentality permeate this mythical tale, but the work’s charm is also amply portrayed. What the performance lacked in absolute unison, it compensated for in amusement.

The concert was held at the hundred-year-old Holy Trinity Anglican Church on 12th Avenue, east of Granville Street, a rare venue for the Vancouver Chamber Choir. The unique central domed roof made for excellent natural acoustics.

2005 John Jane

home