THUNDER BAY, ON ----- December 5, 2009 --- If you love choral music, then Christmas came early this Thursday night. Lakehead University’s Music department presented their Vocal Ensemble and Chamber choir in a concert of seasonal music. Choral Ensembles is a core part of a music education at Lakehead. All music students must participate in the department’s choir in all four years of their undergraduate program in music. One of the effects of this choir is to introduce the students to a wider world of music making, as well as the developing the skills and discipline to work towards musical excellence. True to form the audience was presented with music by Tallis, Mendelssohn, Haydn, F. Poulenc, and even a world premier of Aris Carastathis’ “In Peace and Paradise”.
Schools of music like to create links between people. This can develop between teachers, and their students, students can form life-long associations with students they work with during the four years they are in the program. One of the most precious links for students to make is the connection between a composer and their music. This evening Aris Carastathis was in the audience to hear the world premier of his new work. When I think back to what some of these students had experienced in High School just a few short months ago, this choir provides a creative stimulus to all the students who participate. Indeed LU’s music program is an enriched learning environment.
These students have recognized that music plays a huge part in their lives, and have come to Lakehead to develop that potential. Many manage to fit a music education in with a teaching curriculum, while others come here looking for an opportunity at becoming a professional musician. The result is Dean Jobin-Bevans directs a choir of about 65 dedicated individuals who in short order produced a remarkable concert.
The music program at LU is developing some depth. Liam Curran an LU music student capably accompanied the choir on the piano as well as the marvelous sanctuary organ.
Highlights of the concert include the works for men’s chorus. Twenty or more years ago I sang with a much younger Fort William Male Choir, and I loved the sound that was created by the men of the LU Vocal Ensemble. I also liked the sound and balance of the Chamber Choir. The two motets by Francis Poulenc are a challenge for any young choir, and the second, “Hodie Christus natus est “was particularly well sung.
I am looking forward to some of the musicians in this choir taking part in community music programs, teaching in our schools and performing on stage in future years. Just as music can play a vital part in ones’ life, musicians play a vital part in our community and in our economy. Students who embrace the idea that you will reap the rewards of your efforts will graduate LU well prepared for their future.