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He's actually a talented orchestral and choral composer, not a brooding alt-pop artist from a late 80's CD cover.

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Andrew Balfour 1967 - 

Bel Canto's newest artistic director, Kathrin Welte, has chosen two pieces by Andrew Balfour as our 2024 contribution to the continuing legacy of the choir's a cappella performances.

 

Composer-in-residence for the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s 2023-24 season, Balfour is also artistic director of the Winnipeg-based vocal ensemble Dead of Winterwhich specializes in creating “concept concerts” that explore a theme through an eclectic array of music. His recent collaboration with musica intima, NAGAMO, a Juno nominated recording, is a set of a capella chorales rendered from Latin and English text from the likes of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd into Ojibway. You can learn some more about this fascinating project in this short documentary. From a recent review by Raul da Gama: "his painted musical notes roused by the voices in their chorales, fly off the canvas returning heavenward from whence their inspiration strikes him like lightning down from heaven to the earth of his ancestors."

Gaze Upon The Trees

Inspired, according to the composer, not only by  Dr. Duke Redbird's text, but also their personal relationship, Balfour says the piece reflects the fact that the poet’s observations about nature are rooted in honouring, and in the traditional teachings that he has received. The Ojibway words signify the “whispering of the ancestors” amplifying the spiritual quality of the music. 

Music Is Vibration

In this setting of Dominic Gregorio's poem, Balfour creates soundscapes that build over the course of each line, before returning to quiet contemplation. Voices enter a beat, and sometimes a half-beat apart, layering in complex and sometimes dissonant chords, interspersed with homophonic, soothing sections that shimmer with resonance. The result is less an organized, or prescribed work, and more of an overall experience. 

Invisible, intangible; yet touches deep within. A ringing, a resonance, a returning; twin to twin. Melody is your nature; can you sing? Harmony – all your cells; won't you dance it?

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