I Believe performance, Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto (Payam Sarfard)
I Believe, the powerful oratorio about the Holocaust composed by Winnipegger Zane Zalis, hit the Toronto stage October 25th.
The concert took place at Roy Thompson Hall with conductor Roberto Paternostro leading the Opera Canada Symphony, the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, The University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, the Hamilton Children's Choir with soloists Kelsey Cowie, Marc Devigne, and Marko Zeiler.
It was a nearly sold-out show. "As a composer, I couldn't ask for anything more," enthused Zane Zalis.
An excerpt of the work was originally staged in Winnipeg in 2004. The premiere of the full work took place in 2009 with Alexander Mickelthwate conducting the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
SCENE asked 16-year old Emma Grafham, chorister with the Hamilton Children's Choir to tell us about her experience:
When I first picked up the score of I Believe I cannot say that I was ever expecting this production to have such an impact on myself, the way it has. Being an eleventh grade student and having attended history class, I know for a fact that learning about the immense pain and loss of the holocaust is something nearly impossible to grasp in the classroom. I can read about the mass number of tragic losses as well as the vicious people who terrorized all who were thought to be different, but nothing has ever captivated and moved me as much as this oratorio has.
There is something about music that can connect everyone together at the same time, and make a difference. The composer, Zane Zalis, is an absolutely amazing person who, no doubt has changed me. He has such powerful charisma and passion for his work, which I have found to be incredibly motivating. The fact that he can approach a tragedy like the holocaust and create a gripping remembrance oratorio is one astounding accomplishment, but he also embeds a feeling of hope into the music which is all the better. I cannot thank him enough for making this experience such an emotionally gratifying one.
Aside from the honor of working with the composer, the choir, soloists and orchestra were conducted by maestro Roberto Paternostro. Paternostro is a brilliant conductor who I would describe as being a master of movement. Watching him conduct makes me feel like he is moving and molding time in a mesmerizing way. As the conductor for this performance he made my experience even more fulfilling.
With such influential lyrics and brilliant music, my being a part of I Believe was an experience that I am forever grateful to have had. Being a part of the Hamilton Children's Choir has given me such great experiences that I never imagined possible. Thank you so much to Attila Glatz who gave my choir the opportunity to be apart of I Believe.
Emma Grafham (T. Bobiak)
Emma Grafham sings with the Hamilton Children's Choir.
Listen to I Have a Name from I Believe