Archive for the ‘YouTube Videos’ Category

The Power of Singing

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The opening three minutes of a public TV documentary celebrating Minnesota’s rich choral legacy.
Originally posted to YouTube by Peter Myers on Sep 10, 2010.

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The Gifts a Concert Brings

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

We have an opportunity to do something very unique and wonderful with our next concert, “In the Steps of the Lion”. Although based in form on our popular “Road To Freedom” concert, the difference between the two is striking. “Road To Freedom” is designed to honour the people who came to live in Canada by way of the Underground Railroad and all who descended from them. By implication, the concert is about the value of freedom worldwide—a very present concern.

“In the Steps of the Lion” is also about honouring. But it’s subject, the people of Africa (the issues are same across the continent), are alive now, vital, struggling, in need, and grateful for every handhold we, who have set the world standard, can give them to help them establish their own life and take their place in the world.

The world needs this concert. I am not being dramatic. It’s one thing to think these thoughts alone by ourselves, or even in small groups of three, ten, or twenty people on a committee, and quite another thing to think and be engaged in this issue as part of hundreds of people experiencing the same messages and emotions at a live concert. There are few of us, I would venture to say, that do not believe what goes around, comes around. That the ripples we initiate by our music, our voices, our faces (remember the mirror neurons at the back of our eyes), and our all-important intention spread far and wide where we cannot see.

What can we do to make the world a better place? —to give back? —to do something concrete and meaningful that will without a doubt make a difference in the world? I suggest that the answer is more than simply give money, although that is hugely important. I suggest that the most important thing we can do as an artistic musical ensemble is to take our passion for singing and put it in the service of the greater good for the benefit of the world, which is what we are embarking on with this concert. We can move the hearts of hundreds of people in ways they’ve never experienced to help people half way around the world who have no other hope. We can sing with vitality and commitment to the dream, and by doing so, make it our dream and their dream.

I visited South Sudan in 2013 as part of a mission team and I know first-hand from being there how much every single goat and chicken means to the people who receive them. It’s not a cute moneymaking ploy. It’s life and death. It’s food or starvation. It’s feeding your children for another day. And that’s just goats and chickens. How much more the bigger things like clean water?

The Jewish people have a wonderful saying that I learned from a rabbi I heard lecture on Judaism,

“If not me, who? If not now, when?”

This leads to the crux of why KSS exists. We exist because every concert we do is done to the best of our ability to lead to a transformative experience for the listener (and ourselves along the way). We did that with the Brahms. We did that with “Voices of Light”—just to name two, and not mentioning all the others or our big concerts that we take on the road.

This is not to say that other performance organizations don’t perform beautifully with the best of intentions and love for the music. But our premise is different; our aim is different. I am passionate to share the depth, and the richness, and the transformative potential of every concert we do with our audience. For me, if it doesn’t do that, I would just go back to playing the organ for myself. That’s why I’m in this. That’s why I started a choir (to perform “Missa Gaia”).

That’s also why in KSS we do all types of music—to reach everybody regardless of the musical style they love. We do Beatles, et al, to lead people into a live choral concert experience so they will return and partake of the richness of the rest of what we offer. And we do Beatles to become better singers ourselves, so that when we perform “In the Steps of the Lion” we know how to make an impact. We know how to put it across. We know how to connect in a vital way with the people who came because they want to be moved! After all, what are the alternatives for one’s evening that can offer an impact far beyond ourselves?

“In the Steps of the Lion” can be a light in the darkness for so many people—people like us who want to make a difference in the world and are wondering how to best be effective, and for the millions of people in Africa who look to us to give them the tools and support they need to better their lives and rebuild their country into a place with food and freedom for all.

Together, we can make these things happen.

In the Steps of the Lion: music to celebrate and honour the courage and caring of the people of Africa and South Sudan.
Saturday, May 31, 2014, 8 pm, Wesley-Knox United Church, 91 Askin St, London, Ontario.

Tickets available online at

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The Peacekeepers: Canadian contributions to world peace November 17, 2012

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

This is the music that will be performed this Saturday, November 17, at the first concert of our 20th anniversary season. Interwoven with the music be stories and quotes narrated by Ted Barris, Canadian journalist, author and Canadian war historian.

I am very proud of this concert. It will be moving and uplifting.

Soldier’s Cry

Roland Majeau, arr Trent Worthington

Edmonton singer-songwriter Roland Majeau is a talented and passionate Canadian artist who is writing and recording real music for real people. Often likened to James Taylor, Roland’s unique blend of country, folk and pop is a style of music that tells a story.

This poignant song was arranged by Roland’s friend and fellow musician, Trent Worthington.


In Remembrance
Eleanor Daley
Toronto composer, Eleanor Daley, is world renowned for her exquisite setting of this moving poem by Mary E. Frye, which is from her Requiem. It speaks of the eternity of the soul.



In Remembrance
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.


Abide With Me
Henry Francis Lyte, arr Greg Jasperse
This popular hymn was said to be a favourite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi.

The hymn is sung at the annual ANZAC Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and in Remembrance Day services in Canada and Great Britain. This stunning arrangement is by Greg Jasperse, a composer and arranger currently living in Chicago. Blessed with an incredible gift of arrangement and harmony, he has composed for and conducted Vocal Jazz Choirs across North America and Europe.


The Nathaniel Dett Chorale of Toronto:


Dirge for Two Veterans (Dona Nobis Pacem: IV)
poem by Walt Whitman, music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

This intensely moving piece was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), one of the most influential British musicians of the twentieth century. He was a composer, arranger, editor, collector of folk tunes, and conductor. His outlook was human and social. An important experience in VW’s life was his time in the British Army in WW I. He volunteered for service at age 42, and served as an ambulance driver and as an artillery officer. The impact of the war on his imagination was deep and lasting. His cantata, Dona Nobis Pacem, (Give Us Peace) was written in 1936. VW meant it clearly as a warning against war.


Performed by the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Robert Shaw


Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Pete Seeger, arr Mark Sirett
Singer-songwriter and American activist, Pete Seeger, has long been at the forefront of Civil Rights and the peace and anti-war movements, as well as the fight for a clean environment. After reading Soviet author Mikhail Sholokhov’s epic novel about the Cossacks pre-World War I, And Quiet Flows the Don. Seeger wrote this song in 1955, adapting it from a Cossack folk song mentioned in the novel. Arranger Dr. Mark Sirett is an award-winning composer living in Kingston, Ontario, whose works are frequently performed by Canada’s leading ensembles.



He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
Bob Russell & Bobby Scott, arr John Coates, Jr.
“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, one of the most defining and enduring tunes of the 1960s was by The Hollies and became one of their biggest hits. The origin of the title of the song is often associated with Father Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. In 1941, Father Flanagan came across a drawing of a young boy carrying his brother with the caption reading “He ain’t heavy Mister – he’s m’ brother!” It is sung here to emphasize the need to help each other if we are to heal the divisions that lead to conflict.


A men’s chorus singing this:


Dona Nobis Pacem (Mass in B Minor, final movement)
J.S. Bach
The Mass in B minor is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of all time and is frequently performed. The work was Bach’s last major composition. As the final movement of such a monumental work, the prayer, Dona nobis pacem (Grant us peace), is the culmination of the entire mass that precedes it. As the first piece of our second half, it heralds the desire for peace in all its forms, going beyond the absence of war. It states our intention and serves as a starting point to explore what might be the work for peace here on this earth.


Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra – Robert Shaw


Al Shlosha D’Varim
Text from the Pirkei Avot (1:18) Allan Naplan
The Pirkei Avot is an important compilation of the ethical and moral teachings of the Rabbis from around 220 CE. The piece is, appropriately, a partner song of two interweaving melodies.

Melody 1:  Al shlosha d’varim haolam kayam,
The world’s sustained by three things, by truth and justice and by peace.

Melody 2:  Al haemet v’al hadin v’al hashalom, hashalom.
By truth and justice and by the work for peace, the world is sustained for us all.

Treble, Christian Haworth, sings this with us.



Distant Land (A Prayer for Freedom)
John Rutter
Words and music were written by John Rutter in 1990, soon after the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. It was premiered in Carnegie Hall, New York.


Hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this


Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword (Dona Nobis Pacem: VI)
Ralph Vaughan Williams
The final section of Dona Nobis Pacem is an affirmation of peace as justice with mercy. Confident and joyful, it then breaks into a blaze of glory. It fades to the soprano soloist’s repeated prayer for peace, ending the work as a benediction.


Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra – Robert Shaw


I Dream a World
André Thomas
American composer and conductor, André Thomas, set this inspiring poem by Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, and playwright. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. His main concern was the uplift of his people, whose strengths, resiliency, courage, and humor he wanted to record.
We are joined by treble, Christian Haworth.



I Dream A World – Langston Hughes
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!


This Little Light of Mine
Harry Dixon Loes, arr Mark Hayes
“This Little Light of Mine” is a gospel song written by American composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes in about 1920 and arranged by the talented and popular composer, Mark Hayes.

In closing with this song, we join the millions around the world who are working for peace in ways big and small by letting our light shine. By letting our light shine in the ways of peace, we remember those who have gone before, and honour their gifts of sacrifice and love.




Ted Barris, narrator
Christian Haworth, treble
Ron Fox, piano, organ

Trumpet – Shawn Spicer
Timpani – Greg Mainprize
Percussion – Greg Mainprize

Choristers’ Favorite Pieces from Voices of Light

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Voices of Light dress rehearsal
KSS will be presenting the first concert of our 2010/2011 season – Voices of Light – on Saturday night. Here are some of the choristers’ favorite pieces from the program.

Says one of the singers about Morten Lauridsen’s Magnum Mysterium: “Such a beautiful & moving piece of music.”

Listen for yourself to the University of Utah Singers performing this piece, which uses the beautiful O magnum mysterium text. Says Lauridsen himself: “This affirmation of God’s grace to the meek and the adoration of the Blessed Virgin are celebrated in my setting through a quiet song of profound inner joy.”

Says another singer: “Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium contains rich harmonies that are wonderful to sing. It has an ethereal quality as the melody develops, winding its way from one voice to another. My hope is that the audience will be drawn into our experience and transported to another plane.”

Yet another singer loves singing Lauridsen’s rich harmonies. The same singer also likes Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque because it has “intriguing harmonies and it sounds kind of ethereal.” Learn more about Lux Aurumque here.

Randall Thompson’s Choose Something Like a Star from Frostiana is another favorite. Listen to the Harvard University Choir singing it, below. (This video also features the lyrics.) One signer calls it “up close to heaven!”

Says another singer: “The music of The Magnificat by Pergolesi [actually by Francesco Durante, formerly attributed to Pergolesi] is quite exquisite, featuring the talented string ensemble that is joining us for this concert. It’s also a thrill to hear individual choir members as our soloists, highlighting some of the talent hidden within our ranks.”

Here’s a video of the opening movement – a baroque delight.

Paul Halley’s Voices of Light – the program finale – merits mention as well: “With Fiona Wilkinson’s amazing interpretation, fingers flying over the keys of her flute, Ron Fox on the organ & the choir soaring, it’s a musical experience unto itself.”

One chorister sums up the program this way: “Once again, Karen has woven together yet another interesting program to challenge the choir & entertain our audience.” Check out the entire program, below.

Bach – Break forth, o beauteous heavenly light (German/English)

Mendelssohn – There shall a star come forth (Christus)

Whitacre – Lux Aurumque

Bach (Kuhnau) – Cantata #142 for Christmas Day

Lauridsen – O Magnum Mysterium

Pergolesi (Durante) – Magnificat

Thompson – Choose Something Like a Star

Halley – Voices of Light

Featuring string quintet, two flutes, organ/piano, timpani and percussion instruments.

Road to Freedom – Songbird

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

In the fall of 2008 KSS recorded Road to Freedom, which features readings by Bryan and Shannon Prince of first-hand accounts they have collected of enslaved people who found freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad.

The CD was produced by renowned producer and recording arts educator Kevin Doyle at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, and a small team of students from Fanshawe also documented the recording process on video. Above is the result.

If you enjoy the music featured in the video, you can purchase it here.

Choristers’ Favorite Songs

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Have you ever been sitting in a concert and found yourself wondering which pieces were the musicians’ favorites? As a former choral singer myself, I know that there are some songs we singers all love to rehearse and perform, and others that, well, aren’t our favorites.

I recently asked the KSS choristers about their favorite songs from our upcoming jazz concert, Love is in the Air. The answers were revealing, and often fascinating.

Taking a Chance on Love (arranged by Darmon Meader) was mentioned a number of times, for many different reasons. One singer revealed that he kept finding the song running through his head whenever he wasn’t thinking of anything else. Another added that “it’s fun to sing and optimistic!” A couple of other singers mentioned that they really liked the Darmon Meader arrangement that KSS is singing, “because the rhythm is interesting and challenging, and the harmonies are very ‘cool,’ early jazz style. Just plain fun to sing.”

Taking a Chance made conductor Karen’s hit list as well: “It’s a straight-forward, yet harmonically rich setting of this stylish standard. Lots of trading off with a soloist.”

You can hear an exerpt from the song below, sung by a university jazz choir.

Eric Whitacre’s This Marriage was another clear favorite. One singer said that it “has some lovely melodious lines with rich harmonies. It’s a treat to sing with my fellow choir mates, as the different parts work off each other. The lyrics (poetry by Jalal al-Din Rumi) are exotic and convey an intimate, universal message about the sacred relationship in a marriage.”

This Marriage was also mentioned by Karen, for similar reasons: “It’s about an unusual subject – a mature love, a committed love – not just the frothy fizzy first stages of love. It’s a Rumi poem, and I love Rumi. I love the unique harmonic structure – parallel everything – like a single song that is enriched.”

A YouTube version of the song – conducted by Whitacre himself – can be found below.

Another singer mentioned Blue Skies: “I find the tune floating around in my brain at all hours of the day. The harmonies and rhythms skip along, uplifting the spirit, carrying us forward. If I’m feeling lethargic at all, I’ve found that humming a few bars of this piece gets me going!”

A more obscure favorite was another suggestion by Karen: “Live with me and be my love – the first George Shearing tune on the program. It has a smooth sophistication and restraint that sets up the concert wonderfully. Deceptively simple with stylish harmonies that are always fresh.”

Far and away the piece most often mentioned by the singers, however, was Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns (again arranged by Darmon Meader). I have never really cared for this song, myself, but I have to admit that when I sat in on an early KSS rehearsal back in January, I was won over by Meader’s simple yet gorgeous arrangement. It has obviously struck a chord with the singers, as well.

“When a few of us choir members were in New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall, a couple of us went to see “A Little Night Music,” and Catherine Zeta-Jones sang “Bring in the Clowns,” and it was remarkable. Every time I sing that song at choir I’m transported back to NYC and the wonderful time we had making music with fabulous people in NYC.”

Says another singer: “As well as being a great tune, [it’s my favorite because of] it’s connection with “Smiles of a Summer Night,” which is one of my favorite Ingmar Bergman movies, and was the source material for “A Little Night Music.”

Karen has the last word: “It’s a great song, and this is a surprising and imaginative setting of it that really works.”

For more details about the concert, click here.

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is a former KSS chorister, and its current Director of Communications

Itay Talgam – Lead Like the Great Conductors

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.

Changed for Good

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Can a piece of music change people? Transform them, even? It may seem incongruous to include a video from the rehearsals of the Broadway musical Wicked in a blog post about a Haydn mass… but then again, maybe not.

I first heard the song featured in the above video (For Good) about three years ago. It immediately struck a chord with me, not only because the music was stunningly beautiful, but because the words themselves expressed a sentiment that I believe to be true: That we are intrinsically changed by the people whom we know throughout our the course of our lives.

In the above video (an extra segment included in the DVD of the PBS documentary Broadway: The American Musical) the musical’s producer, Marc Platt, explains that music has no filter: It “seeps inside you…[and] pierces you…in a deeper way than words alone do.”

If we are capable of hearing, we have all experienced those moments when music has affected us on a deeply emotional – and perhaps even spiritual – level.

What has any of this got to do with Haydn, though?
Haydn portrait
Haydn wrote his Missa in Angustiis (Mass in Troubled Times, or Mass in Times of Distress) in the summer of 1798. He was the composer for the court of the Esterházys, a Hungarian noble family, and this particular mass was written for the name day feast (the celebration (or “feast”) of a particular Roman Catholic saint for whom someone is named) of an Esterházy princess.

At this same time in history, Napoleon was attempting to conquer Europe, and the general feeling was one of foreboding and terror as Napoleon won battle after battle, cutting a swathe across the continent. Right before Haydn’s mass was premiered in September of 1798, he and his audience would have heard about British Admiral Horatio Nelson’s stunning victory over Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile in Egypt. Perhaps because of this coincidence, the mass later came to be popularly known as the Lord Nelson Mass.
Lord Nelson portrait
A mass is a choral work originally meant to be sung during the ritual of Christian communion or eucharist, where believers re-enact the last meal of Jesus of Nazareth, when Jesus instructed his followers to eat bread and wine (his “body” and his “blood”) in remembrance of him whenever they gathered together.

The later Christian church formalized the parts of this “holy feast,” writing words that were recited by the priest or sung by the choir: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.

In the Kyrie, believers ask for mercy from God. This part of the sung mass is usually very plaintive, and in the case of Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, in a minor key, which sounds sad and pleading.

In the Gloria, the believers praise God. This part of the mass is usually very joyous.

In the Credo, they recite their beliefs, often in the form of the Nicene creed, a statement of belief that was written by church officials who met at the first ecumenical (multi-denominational) council at the city of Nicea in 325 CE. This section of the mass can often be very long and repetitive, but in the Missa in Angustiis, Haydn uses some musical devices that lighten the mood.

In the Sanctus, the believers again praise God, and in the Benedictus they bless “he who comes in the name of God.”

In the Angus Dei, right before the actual receiving of the bread and the wine, which represent (or stand for) the body and blood of Jesus, believers ask the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world and grant them peace.

But what if you’re not a Christian? How can Haydn’s mass mean anything to you if you don’t believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins, or reconcile you with God?

On a deeper level, humans have been seeking transformation (the radical change of our very essence) for thousands of years. Whether we literally want to change our life situation and circumstances, or change our inner state of being, most of our ritualized behavior (including even contemporary secular (or non-religious) rituals like shaving our body hair, or watching our favorite television show) is designed to transform us – to take us to another place, or make us into something else.

In the Wicked song, For Good, the lead characters talk about how they have been changed because they knew each other.

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

What does that mean – to “know” somebody? When we use that phrase, we usually mean that we have spent time with someone, learned about their likes and dislikes, their behavior, or their life circumstances. Did you ever stop to think about how small children learn about their world, though? If you’ve spent any time with a baby, you know that everything eventually makes its way into their mouths. Our lips and tongue have a very high concentration of nerve endings, and the part of the brain that corresponds to our mouths is proportionally much larger than the areas of the brain which correspond to other parts of our body. It’s no surprise that the mouth is the primary way for babies to learn about unknown objects.

In the ritual of Christian communion, believers not only take the bread and wine into their mouths, they literally eat the divine elements. If you can “know” something by putting it into your mouth, does that mean you can then “become” someone by eating them? And what does it mean to eat God, or the creative energy of the universe? What does it mean to eat love itself?

When Haydn wrote Missa in Angustiis, he knew that his audience would understand the yearning for change expressed in the Christian ritual of the mass. Through his art, he hoped to create an environment of sound that would complement the ritual of “becoming one” with love. He wanted his audience to be changed “for good.”

As you listen to each part of the mass, open your ears – and through them, your body – to the gradual progression of transformation. What is happening in your life right now? Do you yearn for change – for something better? Can you imagine what it felt like to live in troubled times? Can you imagine the relief of victory? Of peace?

How does the music in each movement touch you? What journey does the music take you on? Where do you end up when the music is finished? Have you, too, been changed?

Hear the entire mass on YouTube, here.

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is a former KSS chorister and the current Director of Communications.

Evelyn Glennie on Listening (TEDTalk)

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums. After watching this half-hour video you may never listen to music the same way ever again.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes – including speakers such as Jill Bolte Taylor, Sir Ken Robinson, Hans Rosling, Al Gore and Arthur Benjamin. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, politics and the arts.

Ben Zander on Classical Music (TEDTalk)

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it – and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.

In this (fair warning: rather long!) video, Zander enthrals his audience at the TED2008 conference.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes – including speakers such as Jill Bolte Taylor, Sir Ken Robinson, Hans Rosling, Al Gore and Arthur Benjamin. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, politics and the arts.