By Mike Keenan
To begin its 55th season, Chorus Niagara and Artistic Director Robert Cooper will proudly present “Last Light Above the World: A War Litany,” a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ for audiences who will hear for the very first time the passionate and reflective new work by London, Ontario composer Dr. Allan Bevan. The Saturday November 4 Partridge Hall performance should be another sell-out!
Last Light Above the World: a War Litany employs the backdrop of World War I as resource and inspiration. Rather than celebrating patriotic causes, the composition returns to the time period of the Great War and explores the psychological and emotional devastation of ordinary people caught up in it.
“It is my response to the loss of innocence and the great change engendered by the first World War, as well as the tremendous loss of human life in the apocalyptic event, says Bevan. “So many young people lost, maimed, killed, families separated, empires ruined, an entire way of life changed forever at a terrible cost.”
The work centres on fictional characters, Victor and Frances, husband and wife played by two actors from Toronto’s Soulpepper who read texts alone and together and also in concert with the choir and orchestra. “Frances is a well-educated woman of considerable conscience and feeling, who is at odds with the war, and is anxious for her husband’s well-being. Victor is a youthful officer who has matured quickly in the theatre of war. He is scarred by his experience, offering his deepest fears and inner thoughts and reminiscence.”
Chorus Niagara Artistic Director Robert Cooper notes, “Allan (Bevan) is a composer of enormous craft, wonderful textual sensitivity, expressive choral writing and who can compose with an extended emotional arc and a flair for the dramatic. His music reaches out and connects with both the singer and the audience. What more could you ask for?”
The concert will, of course, features the 100-voices of Chorus Niagara besides Soulpepper Theatre actors Hailey Gillis and Colin Palangio, the orchestra and soloists.
Canadian composer Allan Bevan’s choral compositions have been awarded many significant prizes in Canadian, American, and European composition competitions. He has been commissioned by many of Canada’s finest choirs including outstanding ensembles such as Chorus Niagara, Pro Coro Canada, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the Richard Eaton Singers as well as by the international touring ensemble Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc, known for their soundtrack for the film Les Choristes. His works have been performed, recorded, and broadcast across North America and in Europe, and Asia, and he has over fifty published compositions and arrangements to his credit.
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