Written by Anna C.
Photography by Peter Farris-Manning
On December 16, the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa preformed a holiday concert at Woodroffe United Church, featuring carols from around the world which were accompanied by cellist Thaddeus Morden, the world premiere of a piece by Ottawa composer Laura Hawley, and the seven-movement piece Salvator Mundi. The newest member of the family of Cantiamo Choirs, the Primary Choir for children ages 5-7, performed for the very first time, conducted by Kathy Goodsell. Also singing was the Training Choir, led by Leslie Bricker, as well as the Apprentice Choir and the Girls Choir. Jackie Hawley, Founding Artistic Director of Cantiamo and conductor of both the Apprentice Choir and the Girls Choir said: “ Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa was proud to perform Canadian composer Willi Wosdesky’s A World of Carols for Children’s Choirs for the first time as the full suite with cello accompanist. It was a pleasure to have renowned Ottawa cellist Thaddeus Morden as our guest! Thaddeus is a good friend of Cantiamo and it is always an honour to make music together with him.We were also thrilled to premiere Angels in the Snow by Canadian composer Laura Hawley. We commissioned Laura to set this playful poem for us and her setting vividly reflected the joy and freedom of catching snowflakes in the backyard. Another first in this concert was the premiere performance of the Cantiamo Primary Choir . Our newest singers presented their music with poise and confidence! How wonderful to have singers from age 5 to 18 in the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa!”
For many people, the world premiere of Angels in the Snow, a beautiful choral arrangement by Laura Hawley, was very special. Here is Laura’s reflections on the piece: “When I wrote this piece, it inspired my to think of the many years I spent with Cantiamo and the many choristers who I could picture as I was writing. Since I was with the choir for 14 years, I was with many of the girls from their beginnings in the Training Choir up until they graduated from Cantiamo, and I had the privilege to watch them grow up, and I thought of this when I studied the poem, and thought of that moment in the life of someone growing up when they might start to wonder if they are too old to rush outside and make some snow angels and go have some crazy snow fun. I think even as adults we can feel that way – I have too wonder if from time to time everyone would like to go out and make some snow angels! This was a big influence in how I decided to set the music, because it is meant to reflect that initial hesitation in the mind of the person looking at the snow, and then the music clearly shows that the person (and their parent or parents) have definitely gone outside for some wintery fun!”
This is what Kyra, a member of the Cantiamo Girls Choir, said about singing a solo part in Salvator Mundi: “Being a soloist was a little nerve wracking, especially as it got closer to having to sing. But once I started singing, the nerves lessened, and having Maya singing the alto solo was very comforting knowing that I wasn’t alone.”
I also asked Georgia, a singer in the Apprentice Choir, about her favourite part of the concert. Here is what she said: “What I liked best about the concert was singing in such a beautiful church with so many amazing people. My favourite piece was Angels in the Snow because we sang it with all of Cantiamo and because it’s just such a beautiful piece to sing, and to hear. I love to sing because it’s a great way to express my feelings, it’s a challenge, it teaches teamwork, it makes me happy and, most importantly, it’s fun.”
The “A World of Carols” Christmas concert was a musical and memorable way to celebrate the holiday season. “ I really liked singing in the Christmas concert, especially when the different choirs sang together. I love to sing! “, said Noah, a singer in the Cantiamo Training Choir.