Noel Edison and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary by bringing together all the musical forces – from adult and youth choirs to orchestra, soloists and speakers – needed to present two of Britten’s rarely-performed cantatas. Both The Company of Heaven and St. Nicolas immerse audiences in vivid and dramatic stories through text and music.
The Company of Heaven uses poetry, choral music and glorious solo singing to tell the story of the angels and their tumultuous battle with Satan. The TMC is thrilled to welcome Soulpepper founding member and Dora Award-winner Diego Matamoros as the speaker. He will recite the dramatic poetry assembled by Britten’s collaborator R. Ellis Roberts for the piece – ranging from biblical sources through works by Theodosius, Christina Rossetti and William Blake. Britten composed the work in 1937 as incidental music for a BBC radio broadcast for Michaelmas. The Company of Heaven contains the first solo written by Britten for his longtime partner Peter Pears, a setting of Emily Bronte’s A thousand gleaming fires. Acclaimed Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth will be singing this role. Lesley Bouza, who appeared to critical acclaim with the TMC last season in Carmina Burana and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, will be the soprano soloist.
St. Nicolas recounts legendary episodes from the life of St. Nicolas (270–343 AD), Bishop of Myra (located on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Turkey). The dramatic legends from the life of the saint – from his miraculous birth, through saving sailors on a stormy sea to his rescue of three pickled boys – are enhanced by Britten’s music with its striking contrasts in instrumentation, vocal style and musical textures. The full TMC along with the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Festival Orchestra, and tenor Colin Ainsworth bring the drama to life.
The concert takes place Wednesday, November 20, 2013, at 7:30 pm at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (1585 Yonge St, 1 block north of St. Clair). New this year, tickets start at $35. Tickets are: $35–$76; $35–$70 for seniors; and $25 VoxTix for patrons 30 and under. Tickets are available from the TMC Box Office online or by calling 416-598-0422, ext 221.
Britten at 100
The Company of Heaven and St. Nicolas cantatas
November 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm
Yorkminster Park Baptist Church
Noel Edison, conductor
Lesley Bouza, soprano
Colin Ainsworth, tenor
Diego Matamoros, speaker
James Bourne, piano
Michel Ross, piano
Michael Bloss, organ
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Toronto Children’s Chorus
416-598-0422, ext 224