North Sky Chorale is a mixed voice Chamber Choir based in and around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. A previous version of the choir, Academy Voices, met for one concert a few years ago in Saskatoon. Today’s concert will feature performances of classic choral literature with some light fun thrown in. NSC is directed by Richard Janzen.
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PROGRAM NOTES, TEXTS, & TRANSLATIONS
ALLELUIA (Javier Fajardo)
Javier Fajardo (b. 1992) is the Choirmaster at Gabinete de Comunicación de la Universidad de Valladolid in Spain. In 2017 he made this wonderfully simple and beautiful Alleluia available online for free download and performance. The simple line and repetitive text builds to a fervent declaration of praise before fading into soothing silence.
AVE VERUM CORPUS (Imant Raminsh*) – not performed at this concert.
Imant Raminsh (b. 1943) is a Canadian composer of Latvian descent, best known for his choral compositions. He resides in Coldstream, British Columbia. This Ave Verum Corpus was written in 1973 and has some hidden references to Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus which was an inspiration for the work.
Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine.
Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary,
Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine.
Who has truly suffered, was sacrificed on the cross for mortals,
Cujus latus perforatum, vero fluxit sanguine.
Whose side was pierced, whence flowed water and blood:
Esto nobis praegustatum mortis in examine,
Be for us a foretaste of heaven during the final judgement.
O clemens, O pie, Fili Mariae. Amen.
O Jesu sweet, O Jesu pure, Jesu son of Mary. Amen.
I WANT TO DIE EASY (Traditional Spiritual, arr. Robert Shaw & Alice Parker)
The partnership of Robert Shaw (1916-1999) and Alice Parker (b. 1925) produced a huge number of powerful arrangements of culturally significant American music. I Want To Die Easy is a spiritual with roots in the slave states of the deep south. The piece drives the listener to a climactic arrival in heaven. The heavy, weighty, and ponderous tempo signifies the difficulty of the singer’s current condition, and the challenges of the journey to the promised land.
I want to die easy when I die, shout salvation as I fly.
I want to see my Jesus when I die, shout salvation as I fly.
I want to go to heaven when I die, shout salvation as I fly.
COME AWA’ DEAR OLD GRANNY (Cape Breton Ballad, arr. Trevor Jones)
Stories passed down from older generations to the younger are important in families. Imagine a small child climbing onto their grandmother’s lap, snuggling in, and asking for kisses and stories. This Cape Breton ballad may also serve as a reminder to not wait too long, as it seems to hint to a wake for the family matriarch.
Come awa’ dear old Granny, and sit down beside me, Tell me a story of days long gone by,
When you were a lassie and Grandpa a laddie, Far o’er the ocean you travelled from Skye.
Bide a wee dear old Granny, and sing me a song now, Sunlight is fading, the night shadows creep.
Come sing of your homeland, a song of auld Scotland, those are the mem’ries forever you’ll keep.
Come awa’ dear old Granny, your eyelids are heavy, Golden the twilight, and day at the close,
Come let me caress you, and may the Lord bless you. Come awa’ dear old Granny, the candlelight glows.
DU MEINES HERZENS KRÖNELEIN Op. 21, No.2 (Richard Strauss 1864-1949)
ZUEIGNUNG Op.10, No.1 (Richard Strauss 1864-1949)
EVEN WHEN HE IS SILENT (Kim André Arnesen)
Even When He Is Silent was commissioned in 2011 by the St. Olaf festival in Trondheim, Norway. The text was found written on a wall at a concentration camp after World War II. Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen (b. 1980) notes: “Imagining what that person went through makes the words so powerful. As I read them, it was a Credo – when everything is dark and difficult you might wonder where God is, or if God is there at all. This is about keeping faith in God, love, and hope. I think of the sun as a metaphor for hope.”
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I feel it not.
I believe in God even when He is silent.
JESU DULCIS MEMORIA (Tomás Luis de Vittoria, arr. Hilda Morgan)
Originally intended for male voices sung in medieval cathedrals, this wonderful SSAA arrangement gives each voice part a juicy melody of their own. The altos in particular finally get a chance to rumble some deep, deep notes.
Jesu dulcis memoria, dans vera cordi gaudia.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee, With sweetness fills the breast!
Sed super mel et omnia, Ejus dulcis praesentia.
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy Presence rest.
DUST IN THE WIND (Kerry Livgren, arr. Jacob Narverud)
Made famous by the rock group Kansas, Dust in the Wind speaks to the brevity of human existence. Just a speck of dust, just a drop of water, nothing lasts forever. Not to lose hope, but to keep a simple perspective.
I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone.
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity.
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind.
Same old song; Just a drop of water in an endless sea.
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.
Don’t hang on; nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.
SERENADE fr. “The Student Prince” (Sigmund Romberg 1887-1951)
Beloved, from your window give me greeting; hear my eternal vow.
(Visions glowing, around me thronging), My soul, my joy, my hope, my fear,
Your heart must tell you that I am near!
Lean from above while I pour out my love for you know to my life you are love.
Oh hear my longing cry! O love me or I die. (Love me!)
Beloved, from your window give me greeting; I swear my eternal love.
BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVE’S HAIR (arr. John Jacob Niles 1892-1980)
Black, black, black is the color of my true love’s hair,Her lips are something rosy fair, The pertest face and the daintiest hands I love the grass wheron she stands. I love my love and well she knows, I love the grass whereon she goes; If she on earth no more I see, My life will quickly leave me. I go to Troublesome to mourn, to weep, But satisfied I ne’re can sleep; I’ll write her a note in a few little lines, I’ll suffer death ten thousand times. Black, black, black is the color of my true love’s hair, Her lips are something rosy fair, The purtest face and the daintiest hands, I love the grass whereon she stands.
FOGGY FOGGY DEW (arr. Benjamin Britten 1913-1976)
AN DIE MUSIK (Franz Schubert)
THE PRAYER (Carole Bayer Sager & David Foster*)
The Prayer was featured in the 1998 Warner Bros. animated film “Quest for Camelot” and was originally performed by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli. The eclectic mix of classical and pop musical styles are highlighted by the combining of English and Italian lyrics.
I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go,
and help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way.
Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace to a place where we’ll be safe.
La luce che tu dai (I pray we’ll find your light,) ne cuore resterá (and hold it in our hearts.)
A ricordarci che (when stars go out each night,) l’eterna stella sei (you are the eternal star.)
Nella mia preghiera (Let this be our prayer,) quanta fede c’é. (when shadows fill our day.)
Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace. Give us faith so we’ll be safe.
Sognamo un mondo senza piú violenza. Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza.
We dream of a world without more violence, A world of justice and hope.
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino simobolo di pace, di fraternitá.
Where everyone holds their neighbour’s hand in peace and unity.
La forza che ci dai (We ask that life be kind,) é il desiderio che (and watch us from above.)
Ognunu trovi amore (We hope each soul will find,) intorno e dentro sé (another soul to love.)
Let this be our prayer, just like ev’ry child,
Need to find a place, guide us with your grace. Give us faith so we’ll be safe.
E la fede che hai acceso in noi. Sento che ci salverá.
And the faith you ignite in us, I feel it will save us.
IGNITE (Emile Deedes-Vinck*)
From despair to hope, from darkness to light; commissioned by Laudate Singers, Ignite is a joy to sing. This original composition and poem is intended to inspire listeners with a message of hope. Singers and listeners will reflect on the light within each of us. Emile Deedes-Vinck (b. 1999) grew up in North Vancouver and studied classical music at Capilano University.
There are times when you might fall, and times that you must always stand tall.
And light may start to fade, but there’s still music left to be made
Though the past may leave its mark, and sunlit days may turn into dark,
you can close your eyes and see the light that we are all meant to be.
When you’re in the dark, all alone and scared, you can close your eyes and see your light.
With the music in each heart, in time we’re never far apart.
And each note will fight the storm. There are still those who cannot stay warm.
HOLD ME, ROCK ME (Brian Tate*)
An award-winning composer, as well as an accomplished and versatile musician, choir director, and educator, British Colombia-based Brian Tate (b. 1954) attributes the success of his multifaceted career to a love of working with people and a passion for the arts. Hold Me, Rock Me is an original composition, but has the flavour of old and well-loved spiritual. Any mother in the audience today (in fact, any parent) may perhaps feel a tug at their heart from the role they play in nurturing and preparing children to “set out on [their] own.”
Hold me, rock me, calm and easy, Hold me, rock me, deep and wide.
Hold me, rock me, in your arms, Oh I got a home on the other side.
Some day, gonna cross that river, someday gonna set out on my own,
Don’t know where my journey leads, but I’ll keep on walkin’ till I get me home.
My life is a runnin’ river flowin’ from the mountains to a distant sea.
I’ve known many hills and valleys, but when I reach that ocean, I’ll be free!
MY GOD IS SO HIGH (Traditional Spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan)
Until his untimely death in 2003, Moses Hogan (1957-2003) was one of the most celebrated contemporary directors and arrangers of spirituals. In his short life, he created dozens of new original arrangements of classic spirituals, and formed several choirs that performed them with new vitality. My God Is So High is a classic spiritual arrangement that gives the soloist a chance to truly soar!
My God is so high you can’t get over Him, He’s so low you can’t get under Him,
He’s so wide you can’t get ’round him, you must come in by and through the Lamb.
One day as I was a walkin’ along the heav’nly road
my Saviour spoke unto me and He filled my heart with His love.
I’ll take my gospel trumpet and I’ll begin to blow,
And if my Saviour helps me I’ll blow where ever I’ll go.
THE BLESSING OF LIGHT (Mark Sirett*)
Spring in Saskatchewan – sunlight, warm breezes, rains that soak the ground. Though many of us aren’t directly involved in the agro-economy, none of us are far removed from it. May this closing ancient Scottish blessing by Ontario composer Mark Sirett (b. 1952) follow you this summer.
May the blessing of light be on you, Light without and light within.
May the sunlight shine on you like a fire so friend and stranger may come and be warm.
May sunlight, may it shine from your face, like a candle set in a window pane,
Like a candle set to welcome you home and guide the lost from the storm.
And may the blessing of rain be with you. May it wash your spirit fair and clean,
And reflect the blue of heaven or a star.
May the blessing of earth be on you, be it soft under your feet as you pass.
The Lord bless you, and bless you kindly.
Richard Janzen & Audrey Falk Janzen
Richard and Audrey have been a musical team for the span of their relationship. Richard recently retired from classroom teaching after a 30 year career at RJC High School in Rosthern, where he was in charge of the music, choral, and performing arts program. Richard continues to find meaning musically by directing local church choirs for special occasions and preparing North Sky Chorale for their debut concert.
Audrey is an important ally and partner for Richard. Audrey continues to maintain a private teaching studio in and around Rosthern. In addition to her work with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (she is a member of the College of Examiners and facilitates online courses in pedagogy for the RCM) Audrey enjoys yearly assignments to adjudicate various music festivals in Western Canada.
Together Richard & Audrey enjoy living in Rosthern, gardening, traveling, and visiting their adult children as often as possible.
Philip Klaassen is tremendously excited to be home to collaborate with family and friends! Philip discovered the joy of singing with the Rosthern Station Singers and in the choirs at Rosthern Junior College under Richard Janzen’s direction. He quickly fell in love with opera as a chorus member with the Saskatoon Opera in a production of L’elisir d’amore and continued as a chorister in other productions such as Rigoletto, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Die Zauberflöte. Philip then performed roles with the Saskatoon Opera in Schools Tour in The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville and The Brothers Grimm. He also performed with the Manitoba Opera chorus for multiple galas and in a production of Carmen.
Philip’s operatic roles include Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen, Roberto in Puccini’s Le Villi, Peter Quint in Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Gherardo in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi as a part of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy.
Philip has appeared in concert with the Ottawa Pops Orchestra, University of Ottawa Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa Chamberfest, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. Engagements include Mozart’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang and as the rehearsal soloist for Verdi’s Requiem at the National Arts Centre. He has performed with the JUNO award-winning Ottawa Bach Choir, and was the tenor soloist on the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s holiday album “Christmas, eh?” released in December 2022.
He studies privately with Laurence Ewashko and John Avey in Ottawa.
Rebecca Klaassen Isaak
Rebecca Klaassen Isaak has spent many years supporting and contributing to the Saskatchewan music scene as a singer, accompanist and patron. As a volunteer, she has spent over 30 years on the committee for the Sask Valley Music Festival Association and continues to be an advocate for young musicians to this day. She is thrilled to spend this Mother’s Day weekend making music with her son Philip.