Your One and Only Life

7:30pm March 5th, 2016 at Ryerson United Church

Welcome!  Thank you for sharing a very special milestone with us today.  Our colleague, collaborator, pianist, and friend for fifteen years, Dr. Stephen Smith, is turning 50 this year, and we’ve taken the opportunity to bring him to centre stage for a true celebration of everything he brings to Elektra and Vancouver’s choral community.

The sound of a choir is deeply influenced by the repertoire it sings and – simply put – Stephen Smith’s music makes Elektra sound good.  There is no other composer who has written more for Elektra, nor been as often performed by our choir.  As you will hear, Stephen’s beautiful sense of melody and form, and his fluid vocal lines pervade his scores and make them very gratifying to conduct and sing.  From the simple perfection of the unison line that opens what i want to the challenging layers of sound in Consider the Lilies, each composition is truly unique, taking its cue from the text’s musical opportunities.  The harmonic language is rich, infusing works such as Solitude with subtlety and beauty.  The piano’s role is often as an equal with the choir, such as in the playful composition Yellow Twig of Willow, on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “counting-out” poem.  Sea Psalm was written for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, specifically to showcase Ryerson United Church’s wonderful organ and we are delighted to give a second performance today.

I am delighted that my dear friend Willi Zwozdesky and the Vancouver Men’s Chorus immediately and wholeheartedly accepted Elektra’s invitation to be our special guests for this birthday celebration.  You can read more about Stephen’s longstanding involvement with the VMC on page x.   Welcome to each and every one of the VMC singers, to our guest string players, and to Elektra’s 12 Mira Youth Mentorship singers, who are also with us today.

Note that, in addition to the pieces listed here, which made up the first half of the concert, the Vancouver Men’s Chorus performed Ring Out, Wild Bells, Sonnet, and Diamonds are a Material Girl’s Best Friend. The combined choirs closed the concert with a mixed choir set: If You Would Hear the Angels Sing (mixed choir version – link here refers to the treble version), Sea Psalm (with organ), In the Evening, and Fare Thee Well, Love.

Your One and Only Life program

Performance Pieces:

  1. Your One and Only Life Canadian Work Susan Crowe Stephen Smith (arr) 
  2. what i want Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  3. Solitude Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  4. Yellow Twig of Willow Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  5. Pity Me Not Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  6. Consider the Lilies Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  7. If My Love Leaves Me Canadian Work Traditional Irish Stephen Smith (arr) 
  8. If You Would Hear the Angels Sing Canadian Work Stephen Smith

Canadian Work Legend Canadian Work