When choir director Travis Boudreau received a call from Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Mary Knickle asking to meet, he said “yes.”
Over a coffee she invited him to consider performing “Seafarers’ Requiem”, her collection of poetry and songs, with the Charlottetown Legion Choir at its next concert.
“It has been performed across the Maritimes but never on P.E.I.,” the prolific Lunenburg composer/performing artist told him.
Boudreau liked the work, which includes some Latin and a mass.
But when he pitched the idea to choir members they were unsure because they had just finished doing Latin in Vivaldi’s “Gloria” as part of the Christmas program.
“They wanted to do something in English.”
So, Boudreau started thinking of ways he could combine it with an English program.
“I said, ‘let’s do this. Let’s do part of the requiem as well as sea songs and make it more of a broader theme.”
The idea resonated with choir members who were also convinced that the audience would like it better.
The result is a sea-faring song concert, which will be performed at Winsloe United Church today and at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Charlottetown, Tuesday, May 29. Both shows begin at 7 p.m. with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
The Teachers in Harmony and Friends choir will be their special guests.
The program will consist of three pieces from “Seafarers’ Requiem”, with some favourite sea songs.
For instance, “Make and Break Harbour” and “Let me Fish off Cape St. Mary's” will be performed, with lyrics included in the program so everyone can join in.
“You’ve gotta have a singalong,” Boudreau says.
From there, the sea shanties spill over to favourites like “Fogarty’s Cove”, “Sea People”, “Cape Breton Lullaby”, “Away from the Roll of the Sea” and finally pieces from “Seafarers’ Requiem.”
“It starts with a sea shanty and moves into the more classical. We even have a requiem in there.”
Boudreau tells me he’s “thrilled” that the Teachers in Harmony and Friends choir is joining them.
“I’ve been working with these groups since January on this repertoire. And every week we’ve been meeting together, working on the same music.”
And he’s happy to report that everyone is past the “learning the notes” stage.
“We’re finally inside the songs where we’re talking about interpretation and tuning.”
Sea Song concerts
Winsloe United Church, Saturday, May 26, 7 p.m.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Charlottetown, Tuesday, May 29.
Both concerts begin at 7 p.m., with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets will be available at the door and from choir members.
Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at sally.cole@TheGuardian.pe.ca or by phone at 902-629-6000, ext. 6054.