Edmonton International Choral Festival
May 30 to June 2
All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Robertson-Wesley United Church, McDougall United Church
Tickets: Single $25 to $30, three-pack $60 to $75 and four-pack $80 to $100. Visit www.yegchoralfestival.com/tickets.html
Choir people have a passion for music quite unlike any other. And much of that passion is fuelled by the depth and breath of the song catalogue.
Once again, the highly accomplished Pro Coro Canada hosts the biennial Edmonton International Choral Festival taking place May 30 to June 2.
The four-day group-sing features a wide range of classical and folk music, from ancient to contemporary, each focusing on different tone qualities and harmonies.
This celebration of musical expression showcases Canadian and international singers, conductors and composers. All told, three concerts, a joint gala performance and a series of workshops are booked.
“Edmonton is full of people who love early music and baroque music, and we have an audience that appreciates music from many parts of the world,” said Pro Coro artistic director Michael Zaugg.
Pro Coro kicks off the event Thursday at All Saints Anglican Cathedral hosting Didgori from Georgia (Europe). Together the two choirs are slated to perform a work by Grammy nominated composer Ugis Praulins, Pro Coro’s in-residence composer.
St. Albert soprano Carol Kube and local bass vocalist Michael Kurschat are also participating.
The Friday night concert at Robertson-Wesley United Church features Toronto’s award-winning Tafelmusik Chamber Choir with Ivars Taurin conducting the music of Bach.
“This is the first time the choir has toured outside Ontario and we are very excited to have them,” added Zaugg.
The full-throated Didgori are on a Canadian goodwill tour and will perform a concert of Georgian folk songs and chants on Saturday also at All Saints Anglican Cathedral.
Zaugg first came across their music due to Praulins’ connections.
“He had a collaboration with them and shared their music with me. They are professional vocalists with one professional yodeler. Me being Swiss, I heard the sounds you would hear in the Alps, but in a different context," Zaugg said.
"The yodeling was a tradition of shepherds. They would call to each other and form a communication. It’s very far from what Pro Coro does. We have a classical voice shaped by belle canto. Theirs is raw and vibrant, at the other end of the spectrum.”
Sunday, internationally renowned Venezuelan conductor Maria Guinand will lead a mass choir of about 60 amateurs as well as #connect, Pro Coro’s Youth Choir in an afternoon gala at McDougall United Church.
Zaugg first met Guinand in the mid-’90s as vocalists in the World Youth Choir and have kept in touch ever since.
“We compare her to Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. She has magic when she makes music and she elevates everyone. It becomes all music and passion.”
Three workshops are also arranged for Friday at Robertson-Wesley United Church. Ivars Taurins from Tafelmusik will discuss Baroque music at 9:30 a.m. At 12 noon, Guinand and her husband, composer Alberto Grau will channel Latin American music. Last but not least, Givi Abesadze from Didgori will explore Georgian folk music and chants at 2 p.m.
“For me, it’s all about comparing it to a buffet. You get to try all the flavours, textures and colours.”