Saturday, February 28, 2015

Elora Festival Singers heading to Carnegie Hall

There's the age-old story of the tourist in New York City encountering a beleaguered musician and asking how to get to Carnegie Hall:  "Practice, practice, practice" came the response.

Well one of Canada's foremost professional chamber choirs has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall on March 13th, and they are in a mood to celebrate.  The Elora Festival Singers will host a concert previewing their Carnegie Hall performance next Sunday, March 8th at St. John's Church in Elora.

I have written before about this wonderful choir, formed in 1980 and directed all these years by Noel Edison.  They have both Grammy and Juno nominations to their credit, and in fact have a brand-new album coming out shortly I will be writing about in this space in the near future.

On March 8th, Noel Edison will conduct the Elora Festival Singers in performances of choral works by Eric Whitacre, Stephen Chatman and Healy Willan, among others.  There will also be a new work premiered at the March 8th concert by composer Timothy Corlis.

To be sure, many Canadian works will be featured when they hit the stage at Carnegie Hall, as well there should be.  This choir is one of the best in the country and rivals some of the best you'll hear anywhere, so making an appearance in New York is a perfect opportunity to showcase not only their own considerable talent, but those of the many composers they have promoted over the years as well.

There is a considerable difference between the Carnegie Hall space and the cozy space the choir usually occupies at their home base at St. John's Church in Elora, especially when it comes to how many people can catch the performance at one time.  That being said, I am particularly partial to the acoustic and ambience you find at St. John's Church, and look forward to hearing the choir there every summer when I visit the Elora Festival.

The choir sounds simply grand at St. John's, and you can almost reach out and touch them from the front pews they are so close to the audience.  When you combine that with the organ played by Michael Bloss, who accompanies them on many of their acclaimed Naxos recordings, the sound is expansive and full in spite of the small space.

If you have not already done so, if you go to the Elora Festival in July, make it a point to get to St. John's for the Sunday morning service at 11 am.  The choir sounds amazing at the service and I always find the experience to be particularly uplifting.

While you're in Elora, no matter the season there is plenty to see and do.  From the famous Elora Gorge to the equally famous Elora Mill Inn, still undergoing a major reconstruction, to the interesting shops that line downtown Mill and Metcalfe Streets, you can spend an entire weekend and still not cover everything worth seeing in Elora.

The fact the town is very much an artistic as well as a shopping destination means you will rarely be left wanting for something to occupy your time, any time of the year.  There are a lot of creative minds at work in Elora, so there is always something new to discover.

If you want to eat while visiting, you have your choice of small, well-priced cafes and bistros with interesting menus and very affordable prices.  Or you can eat and go at places such as the newly-opened Elora Bread Company, which I happily discovered for the first time last summer.

But back to the concert next Sunday.  If you want to go, tickets are available by calling the Elora Festival office at 1-519-846-0331.  With luck tickets will also be available at the door prior to the 3 pm performance next Sunday.

Let's cheer on a great Canadian cultural institution as they prepare to wow the audiences in New York in a couple weeks' time!

February 28th, 2015.

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