Water themes flow at concert
The Viva Chorale choir is exploring the multiple facets of one primal element during their upcoming concert called Water Circle, which is set for two shows at ArtSpring this weekend.
Running Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m., the concert features special guest Anne Glover, an award-winning storyteller based in Victoria who has toured all around the world. The collaborative effort will see a varied program of songs interspersed with folk tales and contemporary stories related to water, along with some facts and figures and visual effects.
“This will be something very different than other concerts,” observed Viva Chorale director Caroni Young. “I think it will be a very moving experience.”
Glover agrees the opportunity for artistic collaboration and working with Viva Chorale and Young in particular has produced something special.
“I feel so honoured to be working with this group and having the carte blanche Caroni has given me to select the material,” Glover said. “I really admire her work and work of the choir. It’s very cool to be part of it.”
Musically speaking, Young promises the water theme has elicited some beautiful song selections. The choir is excited to perform Love of the Sea by Donna Rhodenizer, a composer living in Nova Scotia. Young and some of the group got to meet Rhodenizer and talk about the song with her while she was on tour last summer, which adds an extra level of connection.
“It’s nice to share from the east coast to the west coast as well,” Young noted.
Other highlights include Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Larry Nickel’s arrangement Stopping By Woods, which replicates the sound of snow falling in its orchestration, and a piece with voiced sound but no words by young Canadian composer Katerina Gimon. It speaks to water’s steam aspect via the fire that heats it up.
“There are some gorgeous melodies to do with water, but then we’re going to take the audience beyond the physical aspect. Originally I was thinking about the different aspects of water — snow, liquid, steam — but working with Anne it started to be more diverse than I was expecting,” Young explained, noting Glover’s knowledge of folk tales from around the world helped her expand upon the theme and bring it to new places.
The information Glover will be sharing in between songs and stories will feature interesting facts about water and where it is found, how it transforms and how it is everywhere all the time. She also explores how water enters human expression from our dreams to our art, and how humans, like water, live their lives in cycles.
While Young was moved by Glover’s contribution to expand upon the original theme and draw it out more fully, Glover in turn based her part of the program on what Young was doing musically. She researched water stories and came up with a shortlist of possibilities, and then refined that further after sitting with the choir while they rehearsed over two consecutive weekends.
“That’s when it went from an interesting idea to a really exciting reality,” Glover said.
Listening to Young work with the choir and speaking to some of the members afterward helped Glover choose which stories to include, as well as the angle she wanted to express in each choice. In some cases there is a very close pairing between a story being told and the lyrics of a song, although they are not directly related.
“It’s been a really exciting creative process,” Glover said.
Some of the water-related stories she’s bringing to the program include a reworking of a Chinese folk tale about water ghosts who become spirits after drowning and are doomed to stay attached to a body of water until another human dies and can take their place. While that story has a darker, more serious tone, there’s also lighter anecdotes about an ancient Persian trickster character, and an African story about the sun and moon and their relationship with water when they lived on Earth.
In addition to folk tales, Glover will share contemporary true stories.
Glover has often enjoyed visiting the Gulf Islands schools in her storytelling role, but notes this program was put together for an adult audience in terms of its philosophical thought. She’s looking forward to sharing the show with the island’s arts-supportive community.
“It’s so fun to be working on Salt Spring. We all know Salt Spring’s a little bit of a special place, so I’m really excited,” Glover said.
Viva Chorale performs with accompanist Diana English.