The Stars Align in a Celebration of Song

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Jackie Richardson, VOCES8, and Mark Masri are set to appear at Ontario’s longest running celebration of the original instrument ­— the voice.

These are just some of the stars of song that the Elora Festival will be hosting during a three-week marathon of music this July. The Festival runs from July 10th to 26th and boasts a total of twenty-two concerts; including a family-friendly series, jazz and blues under the night sky, and roundtable discussions with former CBC host, Rick Phillips.

Stars in their own right, the elora_advimg1Juno and Grammy-nominated Elora Festival Singers are tuning up for their numerous appearances this July. After a sold-out appearance at Carnegie Hall, and the release of their Poulenc recording on NAXOS this March, the choral ensemble in residence will be in performance no less than seven times at the Elora Festival.

Opening the celebration on July 10th with fireworks and a grand oratorio, The Elora Festival Singers and the Festival Orchestra will launch the season with Handel’s Solomon. Universally recognized as one of Handel’s masterworks, Solomon is replete with magnificent choruses and orchestral flourishes. This is rapturous music with vivid passages dramatizing the biblical accounts of king Solomon ­— as heard through conductor, Noel Edison’s unique interpretive sense.

The following weekend the Elora Festival Singers will take on Bach’s B Minor Mass. One of the most favoured works in the catalogue of Bach’s compositions, this profound and awe-inspiring work is a challenge that “most choirs, orchestras and conductors are not up to” according to Classics Today writer, David Vernier. Under the baton of Noel Edison, the Elora Festival Singers and the Festival Orchestra will share the stage with VOCES8 and Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal on July 17th to tackle this epic work.

Another program showcasing the remarkable talent of the Elora Festival Singers is Choral Mystics on July 23rd. From the “holly minimalism” of John Tavener and Arvo Pärt, to the neo-romanticism of Patrick Hawes and the post-modernism of Jocelyn Morlock, this program will demonstrate how the sense of the sacred can be expressed through the voice, cello and saxophone. The sense of the numinous in these different compositional approaches will make for a stirring voyage through a diverse landscape of sacred singing.

While much a cappella elora-advimg4music has evolved out of the liturgical tradition, many modern ensembles undertake a broad variety of unaccompanied vocal music, including the popular. One such group is the English octet, VOCES8. Praised by Gramophone magazine as “impeccable in its quality of tone and balance,” their repertoire ranges from Purcell to Peggy Lee, and their award-winning albums rocket straight to the top of the classical charts. VOCES8 appear at the Elora Festival on July 16th with their Eventide program of works by Tavener, Byrd, Monteverdi, Rachmaninov and more.

With so many performer highpoints elora-advimg2during the Festival — including Stewart Goodyear, Black Umfolosi, and David Jalbert — the megastar magnitude is not easily summarized. The star attraction of the concert series this summer, however, will no doubt be Canada’s newest tenor celebrity, Mark Masri. “Music is kind of like medicine; it heals the body and soothes the soul” says the Juno and Grammy-nominated singer.  This charismatic and soulful tenor has shared the microphone with the likes of Olivia Newton-John and Delta Goodrem during his rapid climb to the top of the Billboard Charts. He has also been a feature on the reality TV show Big Voice and has performed in David Foster’s Hit Man Returns. Mark Masri is indeed one big voice within earshot. He performs at the Elora Festival on July 15th.

For a complete concert schedule and tickets, visit www.elorafestival.ca.