By Mike Keenan
Signalling a welcome relief to our winter doldrums, an end-of-March performance by The Brock University Women’s and Chamber choirs was well received by a hand-clapping, appreciative audience at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s Recital Hall.
The eclectic program featured music from around the world including Scotland, Ireland, ecclesiastical Latin, India and a meditative South African finale. Brock Assistant Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff conducted the two choirs, performing both individually and together, exploring the different stages and seasons of life with traditional pieces by Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms to more contemporary songs by Canadian composers Nancy Telfer, Jane Siberry and Jon Washburn.
Rensink-Hoff selected appropriate poems to include by authors Christina Rossetti, Robert Burns and Charles Dickens to add resonance to the music, and the choirs performed extremely well in a challenging few pieces that featured different languages. Along with pieces in Latin and German, both choirs sang a compelling composition in Xhosa arranged by South African composer Michael Barrett. The younger members of the audience were also thrilled by the percussive rendition of Jabberwocky inspired by Lewis Carroll.
Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff enjoys quite a résumé. She is the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music Education at Brock University and Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers. Former conductor of the McMaster University Choir and founder of the McMaster Women’s Choir, Dr. Rensink-Hoff completed her Doctorate and Master of Music
degrees at Western University, pursuing additional studies at the Eastman School of Music Conducting Institute, the Voice Care Network of St. John’s University, Minnesota, and the University of Toronto.
Erika Reiman, her accompanist on a gorgeously gleaming black Steinway, teaches at Brock University, and has previously taught at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto.
The final performance in the Viva Voce! Choral Series is on Saturday, April 27 featuring the Avanti Chamber Singers. For more details on upcoming concerts, visit Brock’s Department of Music website: https://brocku.ca/miwsfpa/music/
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