Etobicoke Centennial Choir (ECC) welcomes the rebirth of spring with a joyous concert of music that celebrates the wonder and diversity of creation. Conducted by Henry Renglich, Music Director.
Anton Dvorak – Mass in D Major, Opus 86
Paul Winter with Paul Halley, Jim Scott, Oscar Castro-Neves, Kim Oler – Missa Gaia/Earth Mass
Etobicoke Centennial Choir’s (ECC) second concert of its 52nd season welcomes the rebirth of spring with a joyous concert of music that celebrates the wonder and diversity of creation.
We will first melt away the winter blues with Antonin Dvorak’s lyrical Mass in D Major, a beautiful choral composition with organ accompaniment that combines exquisite melodies with lush harmonic richness. Surrounded and inspired by the natural scenery he loved, Dvorak wrote this mass with a spirit of deep joy and gratitude for Creation and the gift of artistic creativity. In doing so, he gave us a glorious, enduring work that reflects his faith and humankind’s relationship with the Creator and the natural world.
The concert heats up further with ECC’s inaugural performance of the stirring Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, a unique musical experience that has been described as “an environmental liturgy of contemporary music”. The title derives from the Latin word Missa (Mass) and the Greek word Gaia (Mother Nature), acknowledging the “Gaia hypothesis” that proposes all living matter on Earth could be considered as a single living entity.
Written in 1981 by jazz saxophonist Paul Winter and four collaborators, including Canada’s Paul Halley, Missa Gaia is the result of his desire to create “a celebration that was both ecumenical and ecological, one that would embrace all the voices of the Earth”. He set out to produce a mass that would “celebrate the whole earth as a sacred place”. This was achieved by including choir, vocal soloists, a seven-piece jazz ensemble, rhythms and percussion from different cultures and the recorded voices of whales, loons, harp seals and wolves in his creation.
The four traditional movements of the mass (Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei) are interspersed with musical genres including Brazilian folksong, folk style ballads, swinging gospel and Gregorian chant. The animal calls are sometimes used as the melody. In the Kyrie, for example, the dulcet sound of a soprano saxophone echoes the haunting four-note call of a female tundra wolf, which is then taken up by the choir with the words “Kyrie Eleison” – Greek for “Lord, have mercy”. This rich variety of voices and styles reflects the truth that our Earth is made up of tremendous diversity. The varied musical parts come together powerfully to reflect the greater whole and speak of our interconnectedness with all of Creation. Missa Gaia/Earth Mass is a compelling and always relevant work about reclaiming the ancient knowledge of our world as a sacred place – a place worthy of honour, preservation and protection.
2018-2019 Season Highlights
On June 1, 2019 “After the Rain” will feature a collaboration with Toronto guitarist/composer Anton Apostolov and his World Music Ensemble for a performance of three Bulgarian-inspired world music compositions, with choral arrangements by our own Henry Renglich. This concert also features Canadian composer Morton Lauridsen’s Les Chansons des Roses, along with selections by William Byrd, Leo Delibes, Gabriel Faure and others.
The Etobicoke Centennial Choir always welcomes new singers. Weekly rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-10:00 pm at Humber Valley United Church, 76 Anglesey Blvd., Etobicoke.