Strata Vocal Ensemble began with a group of friends from various choirs who loved to sing, laugh and perform a wide variety of music. We were an ad hoc group who would gather in the backyard in the summer over a beer or two to sight read..… our idea of fun! At the end of the summer, we would put together a program for family and friends. We were a self-directed and consensus-driven ensemble who just lived to sing.
Out of this group, Strata evolved as a performance choir doing 2 or 3 concerts per year. After taking a full season to bond and build repertoire, we gave our first concert in June, 2005. There were only 9 of us at that inaugural concert. Small but mighty! Our audience responded enthusiastically to our eclectic programming, as well as our sound in the beautiful acoustic of MacNeill Baptist Church. Thus encouraged, we even entered the CBC Canadian Choral Competition in 2006 and placed as national semi-finalists, though we had to bulk up to a dozen singers in order to qualify to compete. Our juried performance aired on CBC Radio 2’s program, Choral Concert. We had caught the bug!!
In Strata, we strive to keep a communal approach both to programming and to musical interpretation. Choristers are welcome to put forward suggestions to enhance the music. We also have a committee of volunteers that meets in the summer to plan concerts. We truly believe that working together will produce a better product.
In 2010 Strata invited Dr. Gordon Adnams to be our conductor. Gord had a wealth of experience and also had the necessary collegial style of leadership that worked for us. We grew under his tutelage, but in June of 2017, Gord decided to hang up his baton in order to spend more time with his grandchildren.
As of September 2017, we are very excited to welcome Laurel Forshaw as our conductor. With her leadership, we are still consensus-driven, delighting in eclectic programming and striving to highlight Canadian composers in particular. We look forward to experiencing Laurel’s musical sensitivities, knowledge and vision as we grow under her new direction in a long and fruitful collaboration.
Sights and Sounds
April 19 2020 at 3 pm
MacNeill Baptist Church, 1145 King St W, Hamilton
You will be grounded and uplifted by our spring concert as we explore the beauty of sounds and sights in the world around us!
Our programme features Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, a gorgeous work for choir and string quartet, in which the composer set the traditional Latin texts of the Mass but gave each section an English title relating to the natural world (“The Spheres,” “Sunrise,” “The City,” “Identity,” and “The Ground.”
Complementing the Sunrise Mass is Lauridsen’s Chanson des Roses, a five-song-cycle setting of the elegant French poems by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
We are also excited to bring you music of three Canadians. Nancy Telfer is a well-known Ontario-based composer. As with many of her compositions, she drew inspiration for “Silence” from the beauty of natural environments. Frank Thorolfson was the first chairperson of McMaster University’s music department and we are pleased to be singing “The Ghost,” which he wrote for the McMaster University Choir. Manitoban Andrew Balfour is a distinguished Indigenous composer. The Ojibway text of his choral work “Ambe,” which opens our programme, translates as “Come in, all two-legged humans, there is good life here.”