Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review -- VANCOUVER CHAMBER CHOIR -- Due East:Choral Music By Stephen Chatman

DUE EAST: Choral Music by Stephen Chatman
Vancouver Chamber Choir
It’s always refreshing to have the opportunity to review something which is at least different personally. That is the case here. After years of reviewing, this is the first disk of choral music.
I must say I lucked out. The Vancouver Chamber Choir has been performing at home and across Canada since its formation in 1971 by conductor Jon Washburn, and according to the group’s website has a rather illustrious international record with tours to the United States, China, Hong Kong, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The website at also notes, “The Vancouver Chamber Choir is Canada’s outstanding professional vocal ensemble. Based on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia, conductor Jon Washburn and his 20 singers are noted for their diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The ACDA Choral Journal has declared the VCC to be ‘as fine a vocal chamber group as any in the world today.’ In 1998, the VCC and Jon Washburn won the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence for their outstanding contribution to the choral art. Mr. Washburn and the Choir were honoured with two awards at the 2000 Chorus America Conference, including the prestigious Louis Botto award, given in recognition of Washburn’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in the development of a professional choral ensemble of exceptional quality.”
Due East is actually the choir’s third disk focusing on the works of Canadian composer Stephen Chatman. The first disk was Due North, followed by Due West. In Due East the choir brings listeners Chatman’s most recent works. One would imagine Due South is reserved for his works yet to come.
Chatman is certainly well known, as the CD liner notes explain. “Professor and head of Composition at the University of British Columbia, is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Michigan (DMA). He is the recipient of many awards in composition, including 2005 and 2006 Western Canadian Music awards (Outstanding Classical Composition), 2007 Juno nomination, a Fullbright Grant, Dorothy Somerset award, and the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The first Canadian ever short-listed in the BBC Masterprize competition (2001; Tara’s Dream for Orchestra). Chatman is also the only North American to win three consecutive BMI awards to Student Composers.”
Certainly a great CD from a great choir, highlighting a Canadian composer. If you like choral music this is a must have.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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