All Creatures Great & Small

What was the inspiration for this concert?

This concert evolved from two of my passions: choral music, and animal rescue. Now in my 20th season with the Chorus, it’s very satisfactory to return to some favourite repertoire, as well as to introduce new pieces. For the last four years I have also been involved with Richmond Animal Protection Society – specifically with the Cat Sanctuary – and this program offered an opportunity to touch both bases.

What makes this concert unique?

We are joined in this program by the wonderful singers of Richmond Youth Honour Choir, under the direction of Heidi Epp. There are three levels of this talented group: the 5-7 year-old members of the Prelude Choir, the treble voices of the Debut Choir, and the older Chamber Choir. It is primarily the Debut Choir you’ll be hearing at this concert, though the Chamber Choir will join them.

What will be showcased?

The first half of the program will feature “Benedicite” by English composer Andrew Carter. Benedicite is a Latin word that means “Bless the Lord”, and the words of the Benedicite are a song of praise to all created things. The adult choir sings of green things, sun and moon, ice and snow; the children’s praise is more specific, of badgers and hedgehogs, butterflies and moths, grannies and granddads. “Benedicite” is a wonderfully varied work, full of drama and quirky rhythms.

In the second half of the program the choirs will offer music separately. The Chorus will lead off with “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by John Rutter – the words of the hymn are familiar (and the second line of it gives us our concert title) but the music is all Rutter’s own.  We will sing music from the sixteenth century: a piece called “The Animals Improvise Counterpoint” by Italian composer Banchieri, and a light-hearted “Il Est Bel Et Bon” by French composer Passereau, in which you’ll hear chickens clucking.

Our accompanist Tom McPherson has written us a lovely arrangement of a song dating from the 60’s by The Carpenters, “Bless the Beasts and Children”. 

That will lead us into the children’s music: a warm-up song the Debut Choir uses, called “Phineas the Frog”, the lovely “Be Like a Bird” by Sheila Wright, and, less about animals than about nature, the “Song of the River”, using the lovely “Sally Gardens” tune as melody. The older Chamber Choir will follow with “Deep in the Meadow”, a song heard in the movie “The Hunger Games”, and followed by “Home”.

Adults and children will end together with a lively rendition of “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir” 

Thank you Brigid for this preview of what will be a wonderful concert.