© GUARDIAN PHOTO
Music director Leo Marchildon introduces some of the St. Dunstan’s Basilica choir members that will be participating in the To Each is Given concert on Oct. 25.
Brush with death inspires Leo Marchildon to compose To Each Is Given, an inspirational concert that will be presented at St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown on Oct. 25
When Leo Marchildon contracted meningitis two decades ago, he thought his days were numbered.
So the Canadian musical composer/arranger started clipping poems from the greeting cards and postcards that he was receiving from friends and family and set them to beautiful music.
“(My friends) brought my keyboard into my hospital room so I could compose while I was hooked up to an IV feed,” says Marchildon, who was living in Los Angeles at the time.
Then, miraculously, he got better.
But the experience of facing death remained with him.
“I realized that my health was nothing that I should take for granted, that it could have been it for me. I also realized I had been given a second lease on life,” says Marchildon, who revisited the poems he had set to music.
“They talk about the fact that we don’t know how much time we have on this planet, the importance of being thankful for the gifts we’ve been given and making every day count,” says Marchildon.
Understanding the power of words and music to uplift and encourage people going through difficult times, as he had, Marchildon introduced the songs to a few vocalists and musicians. With their support, he recorded To Each Is Given, a CD of inspirational poems set to music.
“It was a labour of love,” says Marchildon, music director for both St. Dunstan’s Basilica and the Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra. He has pooled these resources together to present his To Each Is Given concert at St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown on Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s very exciting for me because, for the first time, I’ll be able to do this live, with a full orchestra, instead of using musical tracks,” he says.
The concert will feature musical treatments of familiar works like The Prayer of St. Francis, The Serenity Prayer, Footprints and Desiderata as it brings together the talents of P.E.I. performers Terry Hatty, Jocelyne Lydgate, Sylvia Mutch and Michael Pendergast.
“Because of the nature of the work, they get to showcase their own, unique gifts. For instance, Jocelyne will do a Celtic country number, Terry Hatty a hard-driving rock number and Sylvia, an operatic art song number,” says Marchildon.
To add to the special evening, rising stars Justin Simard and Melissa MacKenzie will sing alongside St. Dunstan’s soloists Kara Callaghan, Norah Molyneaux and Flora-Anne Whitty, with all the voices of the Basilica Choir for an evening of song and message.
“One great thing about To Each is Given is that it’s interdenominational. It’s not specifically a Catholic perspective. Everyone can relate to it,” says Marchildon.
If you are going
- What: To Each is Given
- When: Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: St. Dunstan’s Basilica, Charlottetown.
- Admission: Donations will be accepted in support of St. Dunstan’s Basilica’s refugee program.
- Websites: Go to www.leomarchildon.com.
AT A GLANCE
Leo Marchildon facts
- Born in Toronto, he started work as a church organist at age 16. His first church was St. Francis of Assisi in Toronto, Ont. For their 75th anniversary, he wrote the Prayer of St. Francis.
- Marchildon moved to P.E.I. in 2007 to do a workshop of Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery. In 2008, the show was mounted at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown. In 2009, it came to the Carrefour Theatre in Charlottetown. In 2010, a concert version of the show toured P.E.I.
- Soon after Marchildon became the music director of St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown.
- He also became the director of the Strathgartney Orchestra, after the death of founder/director Gerry Rutten.