The Amabilis Singers


On Saturday, May 4th, I had the opportunity to attend a concert by the Amabilis Singers (tickets courtesy of a thoughtful friend, D).

The concert took place at New Westminster Christian Reform Church, which was a nice, 15 min. walk from home.

As I entered the church, I was impressed by the beautiful organ in the background.  The singers walked down the aisle, and after a brief introduction about the singers and the work by their director, Dr. Ramona Luengen, the concert began.  There was no intermission and the concert lasted about 80 minutes.  Dr. Luengen joked that the singers had been on power bars for the past week to prepare for the long concert!Image

This concert was titled “The Bach Project” because they aimed to perform Bach’s motets (titled Jesu, meine Freude) interspersed with works by different composers. (Motets are musical choral compositions). And truly, it was surprising to have a serious baroque piece followed by a rousing spiritual.  However, I could understand how and why the director decided to do this – because it allowed the material to be presented in a way that could be more relevant for today’s time, pairing and expanding the biblical text in order to “create an entirely new spiritual energy” by contrasting the different works.

The choir (approx. 55 singers) was also joined by guest soprano, Jennifer Driscoll-Holmes, who sang solos for “Hard Trials” and “God So Loved the World”.  I thought Jennifer sang expressively and powerfully.

The choir performed the pieces wonderfully, and I didn’t mind the Bach pieces being interspersed with modern works.  However, I felt the choir sang the upbeat spirituals more excitingly (if that’s a word) than the slower pieces. And perhaps because of the mood of the concert, the Bach motets didn’t sound as serious or profound as they could have been, and perhaps the Bach motets could have been accompanied by the organ instead of the piano, for a more authentic sound (the piano had not yet been invented in Bach’s time).

To contrast, here is a Berlin choir with organ and cello : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4SKrGYMp7A

I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience this concert, also I am also inspired to be a more thoughtful and skilled accompanist.

Click here for more info or to join the Amabilis Singers.

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