Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

November 28, 2006

U of G Choirs to Sing for Peace

The University of Guelph choirs will perform two pieces dedicated to the 14 women who were killed in the 1989 École Polytechnique Montreal massacre as part of the “Singing Peace” concert Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. at St. George’s Church, 99 Woolwich Street, in Guelph.

“I think most people feel moved by the theme of peace and non-violence,” said music professor and choir director Marta McCarthy. “I hope everyone in the audience will feel engaged and touched by the performance in some way.”

École Polytechnique, composed by Hildegard Westerkamp in 1990, is a dramatic and moving 20-minute piece that the composer created as a way to “talk back” to the atrocity of the gunman’s actions.

“It combines electronic sounds with church bells, birds singing, gunshots and actual excerpts from news reports,” said McCarthy. “A student pointed out that it’s sad that everyone knows the gunman’s name but not the names of the 14 victims. The piece addresses that because in the middle of the performance, we start chanting the names of the 14 women.”

Prayer is a three-minute piece by Whitney Berry that was also conceived as a memorial for the victims of the Dec. 6 massacre. “It’s very melodic, and I thought it was a good contrast as an artistic approach to the same event,” said McCarthy.

The other pieces on the program have connections with peace issues in a more general sense, she said. “Because École Polytechnique is avant-garde and somewhat challenging, I wanted to balance the program with beautiful melodies and tuneful pieces, so there’s lots of that in the program as well.”

The choirs feature 115 performers, mostly U of G students. They will also perform Britten’s 1942 Ceremony of Carols, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Ella Sunlight by John Estacio and How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place by Imant Raminsh with soprano soloist Lesley Bouza.

Tickets are $15 general and $10 for students and can be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting Dudley Gibbs at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52991.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519 824- 4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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