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Winter Music: an afternoon of choral music to warm the soul

Nadine Dawson

Winter has a tendency to turn us inward. Physically, we warm ourselves indoors, indulging in cozy pastimes. But our thoughts also settle into contemplation while the winds of winter blow.

Cantata Singers of Ottawa, under the direction of Andrew McAnerney, invites you to experience a winter landscape interpreted by some of choral music’s most imaginative composers.

The mesmerizing music of Snowforms, by Canadian composer R.Murray Schafer, renders the musings of a winter mind. This choral piece evokes—with humming and Inuit words—the beauty and mystery of a snow-bound world.

Zoltan Kodaly’s Missa Brevis was written in the wintry depths of war—the composer hidden beneath ground, while above, soldiers battled for Budapest. The mass draws forth the suffering of life, but counters with soaring moments of joy and triumph.

Meanwhile in 1944 occupied Paris, Francis Poulenc was setting the poetry of Paul Eluard to music. Un Soir de Neige, a song cycle for a cappella voice, captures feelings of despair and loneliness with winter metaphors of a frozen land yet also the hope of a people that does not give up.

Herbert Howells’ 1919 carol-anthem, A Spotless Rose, takes the image of a “cold, cold winter’s night” and infuses it with the delight of the pending birth of Jesus.

John Rutter pays tribute to Howells with Hymn to the Creator of Light, a piece for double choir. This piece explores the idea of light in three contrasting sections.

Winter Music takes place Sunday, March 18th, at 3:00 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Church, 174 Wilbrod St. Tickets are available at the door, or in person at The Leading Note or Compact Music. To purchase online tickets, or to find out more about Cantata Singers’ 54th Season, please visit