DaCapo Chamber Choir Celebrates its 10th Anniversary Season

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments

Music Times
Sara Martin, member since the inaugural season, current choir manager

I can hardly believe that ten years have passed!  It seems like only yesterday that a small group of ConradGrebel College Chapel Choir alumni were trying to convince Leonard Enns to form a new choir so we could keep singing with him. And here we are, ten years later, with a few of our original singers, a lot of new faces, and a choir who continues to make an impact on the cultural landscape of our region and beyond.

From the beginning

In the fall of 1998, the DaCapo Chamber Choir was founded by composer and conductor Leonard Enns.  A group of 13 singers gathered together to “explore unaccompanied choral music of the 20th century and beyond”.  Our first concert was held on November 21, 1998 at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Kitchener, Ontario – the same church where we currently perform.  Some of the selections that evening included Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat, Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecelia, and Gerald Finzi’s My Spirit Sang All Day.  This November, we will sing the Pärt and Finzi once again, in celebration of our ten years as a choir.

And yet, who we are is more than what we perform.  The words that combine to form the DaCapo logo provide a great deal of insight into who we strive to be as a choir:  passion, spirit, whimsy, resounding joy, imagination, enchanting, inspire, transform, from the beginning.

DaCapo’s singers, and its director, share a passion for performing incredible works of music – those with layers of depth, “crunchy” chords, soaring melodies, enchanting and sometimes wrenching lyrics – that each have something to say.  It’s amazing how relevant and meaningful these pieces, composed throughout the 20th century, are to our current-day context.  At the same time, we also try to maintain a certain amount of whimsy in our approach.  Our rehearsals, and even our concerts, are filled with much laughter and joy.

Music has the power to stir something deep within each of us.  Each time we perform, we seek to do just that – inspire, transform.  As Len has said to us many times, if our concerts do not affect our audience, then not only have we not done our job, but also, what is the point?

Without a doubt DaCapo’s continued success is due, in large part, to the commitment, creativity, and vision of its director, Leonard Enns (though he would never admit it himself, being the altogether humble man that he is).  Nearly every concert reviewer has commented on his ability not only to draw tremendous musicality out of his singers, but also to craft extraordinary programs that, when the individual pieces are combined, create something greater as a whole.  It is no wonder that we, as musicians, feel honoured and privileged to sing under his direction.

Over the years, we have been very fortunate to work with many superbly talented musicians and composers.  The Guelph Chamber Choir, Cantabile Choirs (Kingston), Lachan Jewish Chamber Choir (Toronto), and TACTUS Vocal Ensemble have all performed with DaCapo.  We have also collaborated with other musicians, including: members of the Penderecki Quartet, cellists Ben Bolt-Martin and John Helmers, harpist Lori Gemmel, saxophonist Willem Moolenbeek, soprano Stephanie Kramer and alto Esther Farrell, and pianist Catherine Robertson, to name but a few. Occasionally we feature other guests, including Stratford actor Bruce Dow and the CBC’s Eric Friesen.

Some of our other major accomplishments include: recording and releasing our first CD, STILL,to critical acclaim; serving as the workshop choir with composer Eric Whitacre; and reaching the national semi-finals in the CBC competition for amateur choirs on several occasions, and the finals in 2004.

Our 2007/08 season was a busy one for DaCapo.  In addition to our three regular concerts, we also travelled to Guelph to perform with the Guelph Chamber Choir in February and again in July to appear as part of the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ Festival on the Grand.  In Marchwe travelled to Brock University in St. Catharines to perform in its Encore Professional Concert series.  Then, in April, the 24 choir members piled onto a bus and, along with Len, headed to Kingston where we were thrilled to work with Mark Sirett and the Cantabile Choirs for a joint concert.  For many in DaCapo, one of the season highlights occurred at this concert.  We had just finished singing When David Heard by Eric Whitacre– an emotionally powerful, haunting piece that has affected the entire choir – when the capacity audience at Sydenham Street United Church rose to their feet for a mid-concert standing ovation.  We had achieved our purpose – to connect, deeply, with our audience.

Our upcoming season

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have crafted a season centred around the four elements – earth (November), water (March), fire and air (May).  We will be collaborating with other musicians, including Ben Bolt-Martin (Nov.), performing new works by composers such as Murray Schafer (May), and appearing at the Open Ears festival (Sunday, May 3rd).

Tickets for our regular three-concert season are currently available.  We are also excited to announce that you can now purchase tickets online at our secure web site – www.dacapochamberchoir.ca.

Throughout the season, we will also be recording selections for our next CD, Shadowland.  This recording will feature audience favourites, including Eric Whitacre’s When David Heard, and compositions by local composers, including Moonset by Jeff Enns.  Shadowland is scheduled to be released at our November 2009 concert.

Looking beyond

Part of our growth in the past 10 years was to become an incorporated charitable organization.  With this development, we also formed a Board of Directors to help guide the choir.  As we continue to move forward, we are looking for individuals to join our Board and help us shape and support our organization.  For more information, or to submit a letter of interest describing your possible contributions, simply email info@dacapochamberchoir.ca.

Whether you are a DaCapo “regular” or someone for whom we are brand new, we hope you will join us on our journey – as a singer, a Board member, or an audience member.  For more information about the choir, please visit our web site at www.dacapochamberchoir.ca.  We look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary year with you!

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