A May Song (2017) by Ruth Watson Henderson is about the awakening of nature: trees, birds, lovers, grass getting ready for the new season. Singing this song in May gives me a feeling of gratitude and accomplishment that I also made it through winter and should now join this mood of awakening and creating. The song is challenging as it comes with many key signature changes. Regardless, it allows for a beautiful moment of music making with my fellow choristers, a moment in which “thoughts and phantasies go free”, as the poem, on which this composition is based, holds.
– Shobna Nijhawan
In a program of entirely Canadian compositions, I can’t help but have a special place in my heart for the two pieces by Ruth Watson Henderson. I grew up singing Ruth’s music with Ruth accompanying, and she even set a poem written by my ten year-old self to music! I’m particularly happy that we are premiering a new work of hers at this concert – as a young chorister, I sang in several premieres of her works and it’s a testament to her talent and her commitment to choral music that I have the opportunity to sing another premiere, several decades later.
– Susan Astington
I am really looking forward to premiering ORIANA’s second commission from our composer-in-residence, Matthew Emery – his first composition for us last year was so powerful, and the new piece is just as compelling. His writing conveys a sense of majesty while also remaining beautifully intimate… singing his music is like watching the sun rise before anyone else is awake. It’s such a privilege to have him composing for us at the start of what is bound to be a great career.