Sinfonia 3: Viva L’Italia
Presented by Event 3Sixty
The NSO under the direction of Kellie Walsh is joined by Lady Cove Women’s Choir for a veritable choral feast of music by Italian composers. The concert includes Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Vivaldi’s Gloria and also Song of the River and Legacy performed by soloist Deantha Edmunds.
Don’t miss this magical evening of music with one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s premiere choirs.
JOIN US EARLY FOR A WHOLE EVENING OF FUN
Join us before the concert for our digital pre-show featuring Listen Up! hosted by Dale Jarvis. Listen as we go behind the scenes with interviews of the artists, musicians and composers behind our concerts. Click here to access Listen Up!
Get ready to unwind with a pre-show cocktail. Our friends at Piatto will show you how to channel your own internal mixologist here.
Lady Cove Women’s Choir
Lady Cove Women’s Choir is named after the community of Lady Cove in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. Based in St. John’s, the choir of over 50 voices was established by Kellie Walsh in September 2003. Over the past 17 seasons, Lady Cove has become known for its exceptional musicianship, intimate and expressive performances, and community engagement.
Performing regularly on the national and international stage, Lady Cove previously travelled to Riga, Latvia to participate in the World Choir Games where the choir was awarded two gold medals and an overall third place ranking in the women’s choir category.
During his short life Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) composed operas, Masses, cantatas, an oratorio and a few instrumental works. He gained posthumous fame for his comic opera La Serva Padrona and for his sacred work Stabat Mater, which became the most frequently published musical composition in the 18th century. As a teenager, Giovanni studied violin, voice and composition in Naples where he eventually had a six-year creative career before his untimely death soon after his 26th birthday
Stabat Mater, a 13th century Franciscan hymn, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross as her son Jesus dies. This prayer is heard during the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and also at Lauds and Vespers. The first six sections of the text describe her grief and agony. In the second half, the supplicant seeks to share Mary’s sorrow, prays for the strength to bear witness to Christ’s crucifixion, and asks for Mary’s intercession at the moment of death. The text has been set to music by numerous composers from the 16th to the 21st centuries.
Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, his last work, was conceived as vocal chamber music for the private worship of a noble fraternity in Naples. It was scored for string orchestra with continuo and a soprano and alto soloist. Since its completion in 1736, many versions have emerged for orchestra and choir, with or without soloists. Pergolesi focuses on elegant vocal melodies and operatic expressiveness rather than complex counterpoint. Highlights include the opening “Stabat Mater Dolorosa,” in which Mary’s grief is portrayed by mournful dissonances. The lyrical soprano aria “Cujus animan gementem” [Through her weeping soul] features offbeat rhythmic accents. The alto aria “Quam moerebat” [Who mourned and grieved] features a syncopated orchestral accompaniment and repeated trills in voice and orchestra. “Eja mater fons amoris” [O Mother, fountain of love] begins with a lilting instrumental melody. An expressive effect is achieved by sustained notes in the alto voice over a chromatic instrumental passage in orchestra. “Sancta Maria, istud agas”[Holy Mother, may you do thus] is introduced by a stately, dotted melody in the orchestra which then provides a steady accompaniment for the alto and soprano duet. The chorus soon joins in and alternates with the soloists. The doleful unison opening of “Fac ut portem Christi mortem” [Make me to bear Christ’s Death] aptly reflects the somber subject matter. The alto soloist begins in unison with the orchestra then continues with an elaborate elegiac melody. Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater concludes with the profoundly moving duet “Quando corpus morietur”[When my body dies] . The final hopeful plea, “Grant that my soul is given the glory of Paradise,” is followed by a rousing polyphonic “Amen.”
Song of the River, and Legacy, by Deantha Edmunds with arrangements by Leslee Hayes.
Deantha Edmunds, Canada’s only Inuk professionally trained classical singer, is also a recording artist and composer. She explores and embraces her Indigenous identity through poetry and song. Among her many accomplishments, Deantha performed an original song at the Arctic Inspirations Prize awards ceremony in Ottawa in February 2020. On Canada Day 2018, her Song of the River, arranged for string quartet and choir, was performed by Ullugiagậtsuk (Nunatsiavut Inuit Youth Choir). Two years earlier, Deantha was nominated for the ECMA’s Indigenous Artist of the Year for Pillorikput Inuit: Inuktitut Arias for All Seasons, her recording with the late Karrie Obed, a remarkable tenor and Inuk tradition-bearer from Nain, Nunatsiavut.
Deantha’s songs have been arranged by Leslee Heys who is well known in St. John’s, NL as a piano teacher, coach and accompanist. She has been collaborative pianist for Shallaway Youth Choir for many years, and she also accompanies Lady Cove and Newman Sound. More recently, Leslee has developed an interest in composing and arranging. Her choral settings of Newfoundland and Labrador folk songs have been acclaimed in over a dozen countries.
Leslee has previously set nine of Deantha’s songs for string quartet. For the purposes of this (NSO) concert, Leslee added extra voice harmonies, oboe and string bass. Deantha’s Song of the River, composed in honour of her family, was inspired by the strength, dignity and resilience of Inuit, First Nations and Métis People. In this work, the oboe takes on the role of rippling water. While working on the song Legacy, Leslee found herself thinking of the oboe line as the lost “beautiful Spirit” traveling, soaring beside the singer, with unseen but heard memories. According to Deantha, this song was written in memory of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people, and to honour and uplift our lost sisters.
Deantha and Leslee’s composer-arranger collaboration sounds ideal. As Leslee explains, Deantha would send me an a capella song with permission to do with it what I liked. I want to thank her for trusting that I would honour her compositions to the best of my ability.
Violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is probably best known for his innumerable instrumental works including hundreds of concertos primarily for violin. He also composed operas and sacred music such as Masses, a Magnificat, a Stabat Mater and his famous Gloria, RV 589 . Vivaldi was just ordained a priest when he began his association with the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice from 1703-1740. Established in the fourteenth century, this was a charitable institution for orphaned, abandoned or illegitimate children. Housed in separate buildings, boys were taught trades, and girls learned domestic skills. However, girls with musical talent were selected for intense training as singers or instrumentalists to perform as soloists, choristers or instrumentalists. Their virtuoso performances of liturgical music attracted audiences from all over Europe. To add to the mystique, these all-girl performances took place in the church galleries behind an ornate grille, thus evoking an “angelic” atmosphere.
The Gloria, part of the Catholic Mass, is a prayer of joy and praise. Vivaldi’s work blends his operatic and instrumental skills by means of expressive solos, vocal duets, homophonic and contrapuntal textures, independent accompanying motives and melodies in strings and oboes, as well as striking trumpet interjections.
The first five movements glorify, praise and worship God the Father, King of Heaven. The jubilant opening Gloria is highlighted by persistent octave leaps and trills in orchestra along with choral invocations. Brilliant oboe and trumpet interjections add to the splendor. Overlapping voices and long chromatic lines produce affective dissonances in the more subdued Et in terra pax hominibus for choir. Two sopranos praise God, Laudamus te, in a lively duet accompanied by joyful energy in the orchestra. A brief homophonic choral movement, Gratias agimus tibi, leads directly to the contrapuntal Propter magnam tuam. Most of the second half of the Gloria focuses on God the Son who takes away the sins of the world. There are repeated pleas for his mercy on us sinners. A lilting oboe melody introduces the solo soprano’s lyrical air before turning into a delightful duet in Domine Deus, Rex caelestis . Buoyant dotted rhythms herald the polyphonic Domine Fili unigenite for choir and orchestra. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, is a solemn alto aria over a repeating cello line, interspersed with choral interjections of “Qui tollis peccata mundi”, and “misere nobis.” The choir continues with the text Qui tollis peccata mundi in recitative-like fashion. An exhilarating syncopated melody in orchestra introduces Qui sedes ad dexteram, a dramatic aria for solo alto. If Quoniam to solus sanctus sounds familiar, it is indeed an abbreviated version of the opening Gloria for chorus and orchestra. The final movement, Cum Sancto Spiritu-Amen, which completes the Holy Trinity, is a splendid double fugue for choir and orchestra with oboe and trumpet highlights. It’s glorious!