Coastal Voices and my new choral work

6/4/20171 min read

Last weekend, the men's choir which I accompany, Coastal Voices, gave the first and second performance of my setting of Lawrence Raab's poem 'Voices Answering Back: The Vampires' - the premiere in St. Genevieve's Catholic Church in East Chezzetcook, and the second in the historic old church in Sherbrooke Village. The work was commissioned by the choir, and is dedicated to its members and to its brilliant conductor Janet Gaskin. Janet had asked me to make the work a bit of a challenge, and I did.

The spirit with which the choir rose to the challenge, and the deep insight and wisdom with which Janet guided them every step of the way, was an immensely rewarding experience for me. The choir made me feel as if it was rewarding for them as well. Their faith in my music sustained us through the first few months of rehearsal, when the work's direction must have been glimpsed 'as through a glass darkly' - but growing steadily clearer and more confident week by week.

By the final week the choir was deploying a rich range of colours, singing with sustained intensity and projecting the work with such vividness that many audience members spoke to me of the 'frisson' - of the 'spookiness' and dark musical imagery of the work.

Ken Vaughan, one of the basses and a considerable poet in his own right, set the stage by reading Raab's poem beautifully and eloquently beforehand. Janet's rare blend of intuition and technical mastery, working in synchrony throughout the whole process, brought out the best in this fine ensemble. The choir intends to keep the work in its repertoire next year; I am delighted and deeply grateful at the prospect of continuing this adventure.