Cor Flammae + the Queer Arts Festival present
FALLEN ANGELS Sacred + Profane works by queer composers
An incendiary concert of sacred + profane choral works by queer composers, explored in venues that delve into the complex relationship between sexuality and spirituality July 17th, 2015 | 8pm
St. Andrewâ€™s-Wesley United Church | 1012 Nelson St
July 18th, 2015 | 9pm
8x6 Private Club | 1775 Haro St
Cor Flammae is:
Stephen Smith, 2015 Guest Conductor Soprano
Megan Dray Peggy Hua Lau Mehes Bea Miller Kate Parnell Caitlin Robinson Tessa Taylor
Byron Hanson Bruce Hoffman Michael Park Tristan Pearson Aaron Purdie Nick Sommer
Missy Clarkson Madeline Hannan-Leith Kiyomi Hori Elyse Kantonen Celina Kurz Lee Newman edzie oo Clarice Scop
Missy Clarkson Managing Director, Webmistress
Madeline Hannan-Leith Volunteer Coordinator Amelia Pitt-Brooke Print Design, Donor Relations Peggy Hua, Shane Raman
Peter Alexander Russell Cripps William Liu Troy Martell Shane Raman
Missy Clarkson, Madeline Hannan-Leith, Byron Hanson, Bruce Hoffman, Shane Raman, Stephen Smith
Programme Notes: Missy Clarkson, Amelia Pitt-Brooke, Stephen Smith
Contributors & Consultants
who have given invaluable advice and help towards making FALLEN ANGELS a reality:
Jessica Barrett Janna Crown Christ Church Cathedral Adam Dickson Early Music Vancouver East Van Graphics Fabricana Richmond Kristopher Fulton Bruce Hoffman S.D. Holman Peggy Hua Myles Hurtubise Rachel Iwaasa Hussein Janmohamed Joel Klein Paula Kremer Rupert Lang Greg McKinnon Elaine Miller
Darryl Nixon Petar Pavlovic Robert Pont Shane Raman Zoll Ruskin Rodney Sharman Stephen Smith John Speakman St. Andrewâ€™s-Wesley Leslie Uyeda Choir Stylist Adam Dickson Lighting Cassandra Turner Tom Rose
Volunteers Andi Alexander Sasha Burden Kasey Chen Lori Cooke Bingjie Dai Megan Daly Raven Dickhout Jenny Gagne Jenny Lynn Goodwin Jake Gramit Emily Groundwater Hilary Ison Soo Jeong Danica Kell Romy Kozak Rina Larsson Jessalyn Lemay Kristina Lemieux
Mei Lin Carrie Mombourquette Shelayne Mulholland Jess Rathwell Katrina Shelast Belinda Siu Madeline Lucy Smith Emily Sollows Amy Sture Chrissy Taylor Tina Tew Kurt Unger Rebecca Unger Zander Warren Marie-Helene Westgate Mary Anne Wong Tasha Wright Oscar Xu
COVER PHOTO BY BELLE ANCELL PHOTOGRAPHY
We would like to acknowledge the support of our presenting partners, the Queer Arts Festival, and thank them for their continued commitment to bringing high-profile queer music and interdisciplinary art to Vancouver audiences!
FALLEN ANGELS: Sacred + Profane
A selection of works celebrating sacred + profane works by queer composers. July 17th, 2015 | St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church July 18th, 2015 | 8x6
O quam preciosa Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Soloist: Megan Dray
Hussein Janmohamed (1969)
Rodney Sharman (1958)
Leslie Uyeda (1953)
Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees
John Wilbye (1574-1638)
Dominique Phinot (1510-1556)
Satan’s Litanies: Prayer
Ned Rorem (1923)
Rejoice In The Lamb
July 17th only | Featuring organist Gerald Harder Soloists: Kiyomi Hori, Caitlin Robinson, Bruce Hoffman, Peter Alexander
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Shane Raman (1978)
Libby Larsen (1950)
O proles Hispaniae Margoton va t’a l’iau
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Soloists: Madeline Hannan-Leith, Tessa Taylor
Thou Inward Stranger The Spirit Sings
Gwyneth Walker (1947)
Soloists: Missy Clarkson, Lau Mehes, Byron Hanson, Russell Cripps
And Both Shall Row Kyrie
arr. Eric Banks (1969) Mr. Mister, arr. Absalon Figueroa (1978)
Cor Flammae acknowledges that tonight’s concert takes place on unceded Coast Salish territories, including those of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh-ulh, Stó:lo & Tsleil-Waututh nations.
Welcome Thank you for joining us for FALLEN ANGELS: Sacred + Profane. Deepening the conversation we started last year, our two 2015 concerts seek to illuminate the sacred root of choral music as it relates to the queer body, through an exploration of location - drawing on sacred and profane spaces to inform the experience of these pieces. As an ensemble, Cor Flammae fosters artistic work at the intersection of queer and classical music worlds, exploring the ways queer audiences and artists relate to choral music. The rich religious traditions of choral music mean a listener must confront sacred subjects and spaces, which have historically rejected the queer body and defined that body as profane, obscene and unholy. We aim to explore that tension – approaching the ways the sacred and profane inform each other in opposition, as well as they ways they can coexist, overlap or reconcile – with two concerts in seemingly opposing spaces, both with deep roots in choral and queer history: a church and a sex club. Just as religious spaces are part of the choral legacy, the history of gay rights in Canada has its roots in erotic spaces. On February 5th, 1981, Canada’s largest bathhouse raid, “Operation Soap,” sparked riots and the beginning of Canada’s gay rights movement. By performing at 8x6, we are reclaiming a history that has influenced our lived experiences as contemporary queer musicians, as much as has the sacred history of our art form. With this performance of queer choral music, sacred and profane, we invite you to contemplate how we relate to the divine, the functions of community, the spiritual and physical aspects of love, as well as all the myriad ways which we define ourselves.
As an IAS 2015 Affiliated Independent Event, Cor Flammae remembers the friends and colleagues lost on flight MH17 last July. These six people were dedicated advocates in the fight against HIV. They were: Joep Lange, Jacqueline van Tongeren, Martine de Schutter, Pim de Kuijer, Glenn Thomas, and Lucie Van Mens.
MEN’S CHOIR 2015/16 Six concerts to move and delight you! SAVE up to 30% when you subscribe. www.chorleoni.org
Conductor’s Notes on Tonight’s Programme The first music you will hear this evening, a 12th-century responsory extolling Mary’s miraculous womb, is simultaneously ecstatic and erotic, mystical and sensual – sacred and profane, if you will! Its text introduces several threads that will run through the programme: images of flowers, paradise, and light. The theme of light continues as the ancient Christian chant merges into a contemporary Islamic one, and is picked up again in the stark symmetries of Rodney Sharman’s Winter Solstice. Winter, of course, is followed by spring – or in this case, by the world premiere of Leslie Uyeda’s Sprung Spring, a gleeful look at the way nature in bloom awakens our physical, sexual, and musical energies! According to a five-part madrigal composed by John Wilbye in 1609, spring springs eternal in his beloved’s lips (and the bees would do well to take note)! A five-part motet composed a few decades earlier employs similar – though even more elaborate – contrapuntal means, to a much more sombre end: using cascades of descending figures (and even a mind-boggling descent through all seven flat keys!) it tells how the Prodigal Son, facing starvation, determines to return to his father’s house and beg forgiveness. The prodigal’s pleas are followed by a 20th-century setting of a 19th-century prayer that, rather than rising to heaven, very dramatically descends to the pit where Satan lies “in taciturn defeat.” But Britten’s splendid cantata Rejoice In The Lamb, with text by Christopher Smart, puts the forces of evil and negativity to rout. After a parade of Old Testament characters and exotic animals, three vignettes (about a cat, a mouse, and flowers), a brief harrowing episode about the poet’s treatment in a madhouse, and a joyous paean to music, we are permitted to share the poet’s experience of the divine, in the form of “a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul” during which “the devils themselves are at peace.” ____________________ The second half of the concert begins and ends with two very different settings of the Christian church’s age-old plea for mercy, “Kyrie eleison.” We follow Shane Raman’s setting with Libby Larsen’s multilingual Cry Peace and a prayer to St. Anthony by Francis Poulenc. Juxtaposed with the latter is Poulenc’s treatment of the much earthier subject of Margoton’s encounter with “trois jeunes et beaux garçons.” (You may detect the same “camp” sensibility – a certain combination of seriousness and frivolity – in both of Poulenc’s settings!) Catholicism found a strikingly modern voice in the poetry of Thomas Merton (1915-1968), and we have chosen settings by Gwyneth Walker of two of his poems to feature this evening. Images of animals, paradise, prodigals, music, and silence reappear in these texts - all heightened by Walker’s sensitive and imaginative musical treatment. The concert closes with two fine arrangements: one by Seattle’s Eric Banks, of American folksongs; and a brand-new one written for us by Vancouver’s Absalon Figueroa. They share the theme of life as a journey; and in the final number, the image of light returns, bringing us full circle. Stephen Smith has been a sessional faculty member at UBC, where he created a course on queerness in classical music. He has been Assistant Conductor of the University Singers and of the Vancouver Bach Choir, and Director of the male voice ensemble, Synergy. He is the accompanist for Elektra Women’s Choir and resident accompanist of the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. Also a published composer and arranger of choral music, he has a long and growing list of commissions.
Sacred + Profane
O quam preciosa (unkown) Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Soloist: Megan Dray
Hildegard von Bingen was a German composer, writer, philosopher, Benedictine abbess, Christian mystic, and visionary. As a magistra, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg and Eibingen. She was a polymath, who authored theological, botanical and medicinal texts, letters, poems and liturgical songs, and is a queer and feminist icon to many in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her close relationship with another nun, Richardis von Stade, some interpret as romantic. When Richardis was appointed abbess elsewhere, Hildegard wrote passionate letters urging the decision be reversed (even going so far as to implore the Pope for assistance), only for Richardis to die shortly after her departure. While we will never truly know the nature of their relationship, nuns were dissuaded from forming “particular friendships,” which hints at an added dimension to the chaste, spiritual love members of a cloister were encouraged to bear each other. Using the established erotic religious language of the 12th century, which spoke of the soul and the Church as the “Bride of Christ,” Hildegard’s music features a pattern of focus on the female body and female desire. O quam preciosa extols the virgin Mary’s miraculous womb, comparing it to a gate, a flower, a cloister and the entry to Paradise, and describes the divine warmth flooding “her hidden chamber.” The music’s ecstatic, wide-ranging ornamentation also reflects an erotic component. Hildegard described music as arousing the ardor of the soul and incarnating the Holy Spirit, which some scholars posit, sung in a homosocial context like an abbey, would have been a performance of female sexuality as a form of religious devotion. V. O quam preciosa est virginitas virginis huius que clausam portam habet, et cuius viscera sancta divinitas calore suo infudit ita quod flos in ea crevit. R. Et Filius Dei per secreta ipsius quasi aurora exivit. V. Unde dulce germen, quod Filius ipsius est, per clausuram ventris eius paradisum aperuit. R. Et Filius Dei per secreta ipsius quasi aurora exivit.
V. How precious is this Virgin’s sweet virginity, a closed gate whose womb divinity most holy with its warmth has flooded so a flower sprung within it. R. The Son of God has come forth from her hidden chamber like the dawn. V. And so the sweet and tender shoot —her Son— has through her womb’s enclosure opened Paradise. R. The Son of God has come forth from her hidden chamber like the dawn.
Light: Unveiled (2014)
Hussein Janmohamed (1969)
One of Cor Flammae’s inaugural conductors, Hussein Janmohamed is a Toronto-based choral conductor, composer, clinician and presenter. As a composer, he creates intercultural choral works rooted in Muslim sonic landscapes. He currently sings with distinguished Canadian ensemble, the Elmer Eisler Singers. Light: Unveiled was commissioned by the Aga Khan Museum, for the Ismaili Centre Toronto Opening Ceremony and premiered by the Elmer Iseler Singers and Guest Ismaili Singers in 2014. Janmohamed says of the piece: I drew inspiration from Ayat an-Nur (24:35) – Verse of Light from the Qur’an and the concepts of light that guided the architectural design. I am captivated by the nature of light and what it might sound like. Light can be a wave or a particle, or both. Light can be diffused or concentrated. Light, no matter how you slice it, is still light. White light through a prism becomes many, but it’s still all one light. In the music you will hear moments where all voices come to one note, split into many, interact with each other, then come back to one – like one soul from which the diversity of all humankind comes and returns. Light: Unveiled traces a melodic contour based on Qur’an recitation. Drones (present in so many world cultures) create tension and symbolize separation from Divine heart – from which we come and shall return. Wave-like, the melody emerges into light with the statement of Nurun ‘ala Nur (Light upon Light). “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.” - Qur’an 24:35
Nurun A’la Nur
Light upon Light
Winter Solstice (2003)
Rodney Sharman (1958)
Rodney Sharman lives in Vancouver, BC. He has been Composer-in-Residence with the Victoria Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to concert music, Sharman writes music for cabaret, opera and dance. He works regularly with choreographer James Kudelka, for whom he has written scores for Oregon Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and Coleman Lemieux & Co (Toronto). Sharman has received awards for his compositions in Canada and Germany. He was a 2014 Djerassi Artist-in-Residence, Woodside, California. About Winter Solstice, Sharman notes: Winter Solstice (2003) was written at the request of Bruce Pullan for the UBC Chamber Singers’ Christmas in Vancouver CD. I initially declined his request, telling Bruce that I did not like Christmas, even as a child. I eventually agreed, writing a piece honouring the Winter Solstice. I wrote the text and music in Banff and Vancouver, dedicating the piece to Bruce Pullan. The vocal parts mirror one another throughout.
So dark. So cold. So lonely. The longest night. The briefest light.
Winter will wane. Light will grow. So bright. So warm. So holy.
Sprung Spring (2015)
Cor Flammae commission and premiere performance
Leslie Uyeda (1953)
In August of 2013, Cor Flammae’s founders attended Canada’s first lesbian opera, WHEN THE SUN COMES OUT by Leslie Uyeda (with libretto by Vancouver’s current Poet Laureate Rachel Rose), and were inspired to create a choral group of the same high classical calibre. Thus, it is a great honour to premiere Sprung Spring, a brand new work by Uyeda. During 20 years in opera, Leslie Uyeda worked as a coach, pianist and conductor with the Canadian Opera Company, L’Opera de Montreal, Manitoba Opera, Opera Hamilton, the Banff Centre and the Chautauqua Institute of Music in New York. She also collaborated with some of Canada’s best singers, performing recitals with Tracy Dahl, Richard Margison, Brett Polegato, Wendy Neilsen, Heather Pawsey, Liping Zhang, Jean Stilwell and Viviane Houle. After moving to Vancouver, Uyeda became Chorus Music Director at Vancouver Opera, where she also conducted several mainstage productions. Uyeda started composing at a very young age. A few years ago she left her positions at Vancouver Opera and the University of British Columbia to compose full time. Collaborating with poet John Speakman, Uyeda composed Sprung Spring, for the Cor Flammae FALLEN ANGELS concert series, creating a vibrant new work that captures the ardent, verdant, celebratory and fertile energies of springtime. The sprung spring breaks free! Songbirds thrill to winter’s end, blossoms flaunt their pink parade. Fragrant, warm air ghosts between crisp, bracing gusts, arousing new life, quickening lacy verdancy. In the flowing stream a lovely lily revels in the moon’s radiance, passionately petitioning her gaze. Daffodil, tulip, rose and bluebell rise up steaming, irrepressible, in ardent command, Clap, skip, dance. Kiss, caress. Sing, leap, love!
Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees (1609)
John Wilbye (1574-1638)
Another of our “queeries,” John Wilbye was one of the finest madrigal composers of the English Renaissance, creating scores of these short polyphonic romantic songs. Despite the romantic nature of his compositions, Wilbye never married, making him an anomaly at a time when marriage was an expected economic and social institution that would have enhanced his status within the community. In the culture of Elizabethan/Jacobean England unmarried men of Wilbye’s station were often assumed to be queer. Whether this blank space indicates a non-heterosexual orientation or asexuality, it hints at alternate possibilities in an era in which homosexuality was illegal but the harsh penalties rarely enforced. He was a master of text, either writing his own lyrics or setting translations of popular Italian poetry to music. Wilbye deftly explored rhythm, intonation and voicing, and Sweet Honey Sucking Bees playfully slipping the melody between different vocal groups within the ensemble. Typical of the madrigal genre, Sweet Honey Sucking Bees is amorous in nature, filled with sexual metaphor, “Melisuavia” roughly translating to “sweet honey.” Sweet honey-sucking bees, why do you still surfeit on roses, pinks and violets, as if the choicest nectar lay in them wherewith you store your curious cabinets?
Quanti mercenarii (1538)
Ah, make your flight to Melisuavia’s lips. There may you revel in ambrosian cheer, where smiling roses and sweet lilies sit, Keeping their springtide graces all the year.
Dominique Phinot (1510-1556)
Dominiqe Phinot was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance whose work anticipated the development of the Venetian polychoral style. Beyond working in Italy and southern France and his impressive body of work and professional acclaim he achieved, we know little about Phinot’s life other that he was executed for “homosexual practices” in Lyon in 1556. Despite being cut short in his prime, Phinot’s musical legacy cannot be denied, as according to Renaissance writer Pietro Cerone, “had there been no Phinot, ... Palestrina’s music would not have been possible.” The motet Quanti mercenarii is a setting of text from the Bible’s story of the Prodigal Son. A story of shame and unearned forgiveness, Quanti mercenarii has historically has been set as a motet much more often that liturgically necessary for worship. Phinot’s setting contains a secret modulation that, when interpreted using Renaissance chromatic technique, underscores the description of the Prodigal Son’s starvation, moving the tonality from one key to another by cycling through a circle of fifths. Quanti mercenarii in domo Patris mei abundant panibus, ego autem hic fame pereo, Surgam, et ibo ad Patrem meum et dicam ei: fac me sicut unum ex mercenariis tuis.
How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will arise and go to my father and say to him: ‘Make me like one of your hired men.’ (After Luke 15:17-19) .
Satan’s Litanies: Prayer (1986)
Ned Rorem (1923)
Outspoken and brazen American composer Ned Rorem is an influential figure in 20th and 21st century American classical music, known as much for his explosive and entertaining diaries as for his elegant and masterful composition. Frank about his sexuality in the mid-1960s, he published accounts of his relationships with Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Samuel Barber, and Virgil Thomson, and outed several others. An out gay composer before mainstream US society was ready for such a thing, Rorem seems relatively blasé about the subject of queerness, stating “…homosexuals are just as boring as heterosexuals. Homosexuality is interesting only insofar as homosexuals are a persecuted minority. (Of course, that’s pretty interesting.)” In 1986 the BBC Singer’s commissioned a work from Rorem. He created Three Poems of Baudelaire featuring selections from the 19th century French poet’s controversial masterpiece Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). The poem deals with the shifting essence of beauty in the Paris of the late 1800s, exploring themes of sex and death, and ranging over topics like metamorphosis, lesbianism, sacred and profane love, corruption and lost innocence. “Prayer” is the final movement of Rorem’s song settings, and the text is the key to the poem as a whole – it is a plea to Satan, appealing to the fallen angel’s experience of exile to take pity on a speaker who has similarly been cast out. Satan be praised! Glory to you on High where once you reigned in Heaven, and in the Pit where now you dream in taciturn defeat! Grant that my soul, one day, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, meet you when above your brow its branches, like a second temple, spread!
Rejoice in the Lamb (1943)
July 17th only | Featuring organist Gerald Harder
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Benjamin Britten was one of England’s foremost 20th century composers, credited with fostering the rebirth of British opera and promoting a culture of musical engagement beyond the circles of the musical elite. His relationship with his life-partner, tenor Peter Pears, was widely known but never discussed, and was one of the motivating influences in his music. Britten wrote his operas for Pears to sing and Pears supported Britten’s endeavours; both rose to fame in creative collaboration. Commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St. Matthew’s Church in Northampton in 1943, Rejoice in the Lamb is non-traditional despite being deeply religious. The text was only rediscovered four years prior to Britten’s setting – it is from a poem, Jubilate Agno, by 18th century writer Christopher Smart, who was incarcerated in a madhouse in 1756 after developing a compulsion to pray suddenly wherever he was, often in public. In Britten’s selected text, Smart explores his religious passion through themes of nature, seeing the natural world as a reflection and glorification of God, moving through Biblical animal references to observations on his pet cat and garden, both of which were part of his life at St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics. He wrestles with the trials of his incarceration, likening them to the troubles experienced by Jesus, and taking comfort in the hope that he will be saved. This brings him to an exploration of language and sound in final praise of God. Known both for exploring themes of internal conflict and for deft musical illumination of language, Britten has captured both the joyous expression of praise and the personal demons Smart grapples with.
In our July 17th concert (which just happens to be the 72nd anniversary of this work’s completion!), Cor Flammae is joined by Vancouver organist Gerald Harder. A native of the Fraser Valley, Harder undertook initial organ study with Richard Unfreid at Biola University in Los Angeles. Graduate study in organ performance and choral conducting took him to Western University in London, Ontario, where he studied with Hugh McLean. He has served churches in Los Angeles, Ottawa, Victoria, and Vancouver, and since 2000 has been Organist and Choirmaster at St. James’ Anglican Church, Vancouver. In addition to his activities as a church musician and organist, he sings bass with Vancouver Cantata Singers. Gerald is an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Chorus Rejoice in God, O ye Tongues; give the glory to the Lord, and the Lamb. Nations, and languages, and every Creature, in which is the breath of Life. Let man and beast appear before him, and magnify his name together. Let Nimrod, the mighty hunter, bind a Leopard to the altar, and consecrate his spear to the Lord. Let Ishmail dedicate a Tyger, and give praise for the liberty in which the Lord has let him at large. Let Balaam appear with an Ass, and bless the Lord his people and his creatures for a reward eternal. Let Daniel come forth with a Lion, and praise God with all his might through faith in Christ Jesus. Let Ithamar minister with a Chamois, and bless the name of Him that cloatheth the naked. Let Jakim with the Satyr bless God in the dance. Let David bless with the Bear–The beginning of victory to the Lord–to the Lord the perfection of excellence–Hallelujah from the heart of God, and from the hand of the artist inimitable, and from the echo of the heavenly harp in sweetness magnifical and mighty.
Treble Solo (Kiyomi Hori) For I will consider my cat Jeoffry. For he is the servant of the living God, duly and daily serving him. For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way. For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness. For he knows that God is his saviour. For God has bless’d him in the variety of his movements. For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. For I am possessed of a cat, surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless Almighty God.
Alto solo (Caitlin Robinson) For the Mouse is a creature of great personal valour. For–this is a true case–Cat takes female mouse, Male mouse will not depart, but stands threat’ning and daring. ...If you will let her go, I will engage you, as prodigious a creature as you are. For the Mouse is a creature of great personal valour. For the Mouse is of an hospitable disposition.
Tenor solo (Bruce Hoffman) For the flowers are great blessings. For the flowers have their angels, even the words of God’s creation. For the flower glorifies God and the root parries the adversary. For there is a language of flowers. For the flowers are peculiarly the poetry of Christ.
Chorus For I am under the same accusation with my Savior– For they said, he is besides himself. For the officers of the peace are at variance with me, and the watchman smites me with his staff. For Silly fellow! Silly fellow! is against me and belongeth neither to me nor to my family. For I am in twelve HARDSHIPS, but he that was born of a virgin shall deliver me out of all.
Recitative: Bass solo (Peter Alexander) and Chorus For H is a spirit and therefore he is God. For K is king and therefore he is God. For L is love and therefore he is God. For M is musick and therefore he is God. For the instruments are by their rhimes. For the Shawm rhimes are lawn fawn moon boon and the like. For the harp rhimes are sing ring string and the like. For the cymbal rhimes are bell well toll soul and the like. For the flute rhimes are tooth youth suit mute and the like. For the Bassoon rhimes are pass class and the like. For the dulcimer rhimes are grace place beat heat and the like. For the Clarinet rhimes are clean seen and the like. For the trumpet rhimes are sound bound soar more and the like. For the TRUMPET of God is a blessed intelligence and so are all the instruments in HEAVEN. For GOD the Father Almighty plays upon the HARP of stupendous magnitude and melody. For at that time malignity ceases and the devils themselves are at peace. For this time is perceptible to man by a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul. Hallelujah from the heart of God, and from the hand of the artist inimitable, and from the echo of the heavenly harp in sweetness magnifical and mighty.
Our Queeristers are excited to perform a selection of works on the main stage at the Pride Festival!
Aug 2, 2:30pm Sunset Beach, Vancouver vancouverpride.ca
Cor Flammae is proud to be a Vancouver Queer Film Festival Community Partner for their showing of The Black Widow.
Aug 21, 9:15pm | International Village 3rd Fl – 88 W Pender St, Vancouver queerfilmfestival.ca
Shane Raman (1978)
Shane Raman is a Vancouver-based composer, baritenor and instructor who has performed in many of the city’s ensembles, notably musica intima, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Cantata Singers, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and most recently Cor Flammae. He teaches voice at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music and recently has been singing small roles in operas, vocal works and musicals. Raman wrote this setting of the Kyrie text while at UBC in 2003. It is part of a larger mass setting still yet to be finished. He explains his composition: For me, this setting expresses a duality. The melody in the first soprano part is quite static and bare. It expresses a plaintive, yet contained, cry for mercy. The melody is embellished and changed by the injection of different chords from the lower voices. These chords effect the function of the solitary note melody and yet leave it unchanged until the very end of the piece. Coupling the first order of the mass, a very ancient structure, with modern chords and an unexpected chord progression feels like an invitation into a place that is familiar, but seen this time from a different perspective. I feel like this is a recurring situation that I am constantly invited to in so many places in life, and an invitation I wish to offer to others.
Kyrie eleison Christe eleison Kyrie eleison
Cry Peace (2003)
Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Lord have mercy
Libby Larsen (1950)
Libby Larsen is a Grammy Award winning American composer with a long list of works ranging from chamber music and intimate vocal compositions to large-scale choral and orchestral pieces. With over 50 albums and 220 pieces, she is often performed and commissioned by ensembles worldwide, including the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. She is also known for exploring queer themes in her opera, Mrs. Dalloway, created in collaboration with Bonnie Grice, which is an exploration of repressed homoerotic desire based off the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. The text for Cry Peace is a multi-lingual meditation on the word “peace,” providing an intercultural exploration of a common religious theme. Larsen invokes a quote by Buddha as her description of the work: “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” Pace — Italian Paci — Maltese Aman — Uru (Pakistan) Rauha — Finnish Udo — Igbo (Nigeria) Shlomo —(Syraic/Aramaic) Sholom — Hebrew Pokoj — Belorussian/Polish
Suhl — Dari (Persia) Sith — Scottish high Mir — Croatian/Czech/Russian high Fred — Friesian/Norwegian/Danish/Swedish Frieden — German Bēke — Hungarian high Hé Píng — Chinese Pax — Latin
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) “You know that I am just as sincere in my faith, without any messianic screaming, as I am in my Parisian sexuality.” - Francis Poulenc
One of the 20th Century’s most influential composers, Francis Poulenc was a complex figure compelled in equal parts by his love affairs with men and his devout Christianity. At times troubled by the “impurity” he saw in same-sex desire, it was nonetheless a deep part of his life and artistic work, finding inspiration from the men and women he loved. A member of the group of French Composers known as Les Six, Poulenc was interested in exploring the techniques of the Dada movement, and created striking pieces that challenged Parisian musical fashions.
O proles Hispaniae (1959) In 1936, Poulenc visited the shrine of the Black Virgin of Rocamadour after the death of rival composer, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, experiencing a religious transformation that was to deeply influence his later works. One such piece is the Laudes de Saint Antoine de Padoue (Praises of St. Anthony of Padua), a series of motets including “O Proles Hispaniae” (O Son of Spain), a piece petitioning St. Anthony’s aid on behalf of fallen souls. O proles Hispaniae, pavor infidelium, nova lux Italiae Nobile depositum urbis Paduanae! Fer, Antoni, gratiae Christi patrocinium: Neprolapsis veniae tempus breve creditum defluat inane.
O scion of Spain, blessed Anthony, hope of Italy treasure of the city of Padua! Grant forgiveness to the fallen: that their short period of grace will not pass in vain.
Margoton va t’a l’iau (1946)
Soloists: Madeline Hannan-Leith, Tessa Taylor
An example of his secular work, “Margoton” is from Poulenc’s Chansons françaises, a set of eight folk songs, composed in 1946, reflecting the patriotic sentiment of the postwar period by revisiting the French chanson tradition. In the song, Margoton has fallen into a well and is rescued by three young men. She thanks them with a song, and when they press her for the reward of her “little heart,” she quickly rebuffs them, replying “My little heart is not for creeps like you!” Margoton va t’a l’iau avecque son cruchon La fontaine était creuse, elle est tombée au fond: Aïe, aïe, aïe, aïe se dit Margoton. Par là passèrent trois jeunes et beaux garçons Que don’rez-vous la belle qu’on vous tir’ du fond Tirez d’abord, dit-elle, après ça nous verrons Quand la bell’ fut tirée commence une chanson “Ce n’est pas ça la bell’ que nous vous demandons C’est votre petit cœur savoir si nous l’aurons” “Mon petit cœur, messir’s, n’est point pour greluchons” Aïe, aïe, aïe, aïe se dit Margoton.
Margoton goes to fetch water with her little jug The spring was in a deep hollow and she fell in: Oh dear... said Margoton to herself. Three handsome young men pass by What will you give, pretty one, if we pull you out? Pull me out first, she says, and then we’ll see When the pretty one was out she strikes up a song “This is not what we want, pretty one It is to hold your little heart if we may” “My little heart, sirs, is not for lechers” Oh dear... said Margoton to herself..
Gwyneth Walker (1947) “I am a composer of faith - without that I would soon lose energy. I think if you write only for yourself and for other people there is some satisfaction, but if you write with an eye on something higher, or maybe feel that you might be in touch with something larger, that you will have incoming energy and inspiration.” - Gwyneth Walker
Popular American composer Gwyneth Walker has created over 300 pieces for instrument and voice, and her works have been performed in venues from Carnegie Hall to The Ellen Show. Her compositions are beloved by performers and audiences alike for its energy, beauty, reverence, drama, and humor. Formerly a faculty member at the Oberlin College Conservatory, Dr. Walker now devotes all her time to composition. She has a special interest in creating dramatic works that merge music with spoken word, acting and movement.
Stranger: “Thou Inward Stranger Whom I Have Never Seen” (2012) A setting of three poems by Trappist monk Thomas Merton, Songs of Ecstasy explores “an imagination sparked by divine revelation, and a soul filled with ecstatic spiritual awareness.” “Stranger: ‘Thou Inward Stranger Whom I Have Never Seen’” is the final piece in the setting – it is intense and joyous, building a sense of wonder into an ecstatic finish. Walker describes her interpretation: “Closer and clearer than any wordy master, Thou inward Stranger whom I have ever seen.” These words describe the Spirit of God within, perhaps mysterious and alms unknown to each of us…This “stranger” within creates a powerful and urgent closeness, a voice seeking to emerge.
When no one listens To the quiet trees When no one notices The sun in the pool
Now dawn commands the capture Of the tallest fortune, The surrender Of no less marvelous prize!
Where no one feels The first drop of rain Or sees the last star
Closer and clearer Than any wordy master, Thou inward Stranger Whom I have never seen,
Or hails the first morning Of a giant world Where peace begins And rages end: One bird sits still Watching the work of God: One turning leaf, Two falling blossoms, Ten circles upon the pond. One cloud upon the hillside, Two shadows in the valley And the light strikes home.
Deeper and cleaner Than the clamorous ocean, Seize up my silence Hold me in Thy Hand! Now act is waste And suffering undone Laws become prodigals Limits are torn down For envy has no property And passion is none. Look, the vast Light stands still Our cleanest Light is One!
A Psalm: “The Spirit Sings” (2012)
Soloists: Missy Clarkson, Lau Mehes, Byron Hanson, Russell Cripps
“A Psalm: ‘The Spirit Sings’” is the second song in Walker’s setting, and joyfully plays with metre, rhythm, as well as with percussive elements. Merton spent many years in solitude in Kentucky’s Abbey of Gethsemani, and the text from his poem which Walker uses celebrates God’s presence throughout the natural world, as well as deep within the human soul. When psalms surprise me with their music And antiphons turn to rum The Spirit sings: the bottom drops out of my soul!
But sound is never half so fair As when that music turns to air And the universe dies of excellence.
And from the center of my cellar, Love, louder than thunder Opens a heaven of naked air.
Sun, moon and stars Fall from their heavenly towers. Joys walk no longer down the blue world’s shore.
New eyes awaken. I send Love’s name into the world with wings And songs grow up around me like a jungle. Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes Your Spirit played in Eden.
Though fires loiter, lights still fly on the air of the gulf, All fear another wind, another thunder: Then one more voice Snuffs all their flares in one gust.
Zebras and antelopes and birds of paradise Shine on the face of the abyss And I am drunk with the great wilderness Of the sixth day in Genesis.
And I go forth with no more wine and no more stars And no more buds and no more Eden And no more animals and no more sea: While God sings by himself in acres of night And walls fall down, that guarded Paradise.
And Both Shall Row (2001)
Eric Banks (1969)
Eric Banks is a Seattle-based composer and the founding director of the vocal ensembles, The Esoterics and Ædonis. Banks writes primarily for a cappella chorus. He is a polyglot and frequently sets texts in languages other than his native English, including dead languages such as Epic Greek and Avestan. I have always enjoyed both of these songs — The Water is Wide and Oh Shenandoah, and figured out a contrapuntal way to weave these two pieces about water together (this was long before the ‘mash-up’ was popular, by the way). You may have noticed that the lyrics of these songs are different as well — this is due to the fact that And Both Shall Row has been sung at MANY weddings and commitment ceremonies for members of The Esoterics, and I really wanted the texts to reflect the joy of union (found in my alternative lyrics), not the sorrow of loneliness (found in the original).
Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you, Away, you rolling river. Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri. Oh Shenandoah, I’ll never leave you, Away, you rolling river. Oh Shenandoah, I’ll not deceive you, Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri. ‘Tis seven long years since last I’ve seen you, Away, you rolling river. And seventy more I’ll promise to you, Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri.
Kyrie (arr. 2015)
The water is wide, I cannot cross o’er, And neither have I wings to fly, Give me a boat that can carry two, And both shall row, my love and I. Where love is planted, there it grows, It spreads its branches, like a tree, Love blooms in sweetness, like a rose, With such a grace you’ll never see. Oh love is handsome and love is kind, And love’s a jewel, when first it’s new, As love lives on, it grows refined, Like the blade of green, in the morning dew.
Mr. Mister, Absalon Figueroa, Arr. (1978)
Cor Flammae commission and premiere performance
Absalon spent his younger years in Toronto training as a pianist and clarinettist at the Royal Conservatory of Music and at the University of Toronto. He later went on to pursue a career as a ballet dancer at the Orlando Ballet Company in Florida, where he merged his love of music and dance by becoming the company pianist. His passion for choral music was rekindled as the accompanist and assistant musical director to The Orlando Chorale and The Orlando Chamber Singers. Absalon was the musical director and conductor for the Orlando Gay Chorus before moving to Vancouver in 2009. Absalon is a choral arranger with an extensive repertoire of works done for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. He also teaches ballet and is a company pianist with Ballet BC. Kyrie eleison The wind blows hard against this mountainside Across the sea into my soul It reaches into where I cannot hide Setting my feet upon the road My heart is old, it holds my memories My body burns a gem-like flame Somewhere between the soul and soft machine Is where I find myself again
Kyrie eleison down the road that I must travel Kyrie eleison through the darkness of the night Kyrie eleison where I’m going, will you follow? Kyrie eleison on a highway in the light When I was young, I thought of growing old Of what my life would mean to me Would I have followed down my chosen road Or only wished what I could be
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Where the Music Begins!
Published on Jul 13, 2015
After an inaugural season that saw over 100 people turned away and ticket scalpers outside a choral venue, Cor Flammae, Canada’s first queer...