Victoria Philharmonic Choir launches into a decade of music with a 500-year-old tradition – Music for St. Cecilia’s Day.
The choir will mark the feast day of Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, with a workshop and concert on Nov. 22.
“We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of being a choir,” said Sherry Lepage, who sings alto and serves as choir manager and promotions.
“We don’t normally have entry by donation, we usually sell tickets. But because we’re offering singing members of the community to come and workshop some of this repertoire, it’s kind of a gift to the community in a way. To come and pay what you can and enjoy a short concert.”
Peter Butterfield, guest mezzo-soprano Sarah Fryer and the VPC will run the workshop, and participants will have the option of singing some of the workshop repertoire in the concert.
While the story of St. Cecilia, a fourth century Roman Christian martyr, is a tangled web of religion and legend, she has inspired a heavenly host of musical works by great composers, including Henry Purcell, G.F. Handel and Benjamin Britten, whose birthday falls on Cecilia’s feast day of Nov. 22.
“It was too great a coincidence to pass up,” said Butterfield. The conductor programmed Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia, set to a poem by W.H. Auden, as a feature of the performance. The choir will also sing choruses from Handel’s joyous Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, Samuel Barber’s poignant Adagio, and Canadian composer Paul Halley’s Freedom Trilogy, which interweaves Gregorian chant with South African hymns and Amazing Grace.
“There will be people coming and singing who are guest choristers, so it’s a little bit different than most of our concerts,” Lepage said.
Singers who would like to take part in the St. Cecilia’s Day choral workshop can register at vpchoir.ca by Nov. 20. Cost is $25 regular, $10 for students. Music for St. Cecilia’s Day is on Saturday, Nov. 22 at St. Mary’s Church, 1701 Elgin Rd. The concert starts at 5 p.m. Admission by donation.