Songs of the People

Date and Venue 29 January @ 8pm | Ryerson United Church, 2195 W. 45th Ave (at Yew St.), Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

With the many shows co-sponsored by the Vancouver Cultural Olyympiad reflecting the diverse peoples and cultures of the world and their many musical cultures, this special concert echoed the music from the rich folk traditions of the European continent, Scandinavia and the British Isles.

VCC's young and vibrant assistant conductor, John William Trotter, conducted the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the Pacific Singers, a new choir he put together only last September, according to him. The first part of the programme consisted in songs by a Hungarian composer, Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) from Sweden, Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) from the tiny country of Lichtenstein, and Frenchman Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). They were sung impeccably in the usual a capella style by the VCC singers.

After a 20-minute intermission, both Pacific and VCC singers joined together to sing three Italian Madrigals, one from Jacob Arcadelt (?1507-1568), and two from Luca Marenzio (?1553-1599). Following these were Johannes Brahms' (1833-1897) arrangement of German folksongs which I believe was influenced by the Sturm und Drang mood prevalent in Germany at that time, characterized by sentimentality. I could see the saccharine nature of these songs, but Brahms managed to put an elegant touch to these folksy songs.

Naturally, being British Columbians, the last part of the show was a composite of Scottish, Irish and English folk songs. What stood out, of course, was the ever popular Irish folk song "Danny Boy" arranged by Peter Knight. The full-house audience gave a standing ovation to these fine group of singers who entertained us with another short encore number.

© 2010 Ed Farolan