Camerata Nova celebrates Christmas in Early America
Posted by Mike McKay, musician | Friday November 23, 2012
Camerata Nova will perform at Crescent Fort Rouge Church (Chris Black Photography)
Camerata Nova is at it again. They're combining innovation with tradition for their upcoming Christmas in Early America concert.
Michael McKay is the latest addition to the ensemble. He collaborated with Ross Brownlee on the conception of this concert and he will be sharing the conducting duties with Brownlee as well.
Michael McKay will conduct the concert (Chris Black)
McKay is originally from Nova Scotia and was drawn to Winnipeg by its frigid winters. Seriously. And also by its rich choral tradition. He quickly joined the ranks of the Winnipeg Singers, the Bolero Dance Theatre, Little Opera Company and Royal Winnipeg Ballet (as pianist) and his compositions have been performed by a plethora of local choirs. He is also choirmaster and organist at First Presbyterian Church.
Camerata Nova's concert features a lot of pretty unfamiliar American music from the 18th and 19th centuries--and even earlier. Think puritan psalms, Appalachian songs and music performed in the Spanish missions in California. Esoteric? Think again. McKay is very excited about the mix.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is some of the most interesting non-classical music of that era," he says. "I first encountered the repertoire a few years ago when working with
Halifax's Elastic Millennium Choir, and really loved it--much of the
music is boisterous, gutsy, and fun!"
"However, as a composer, I find the
music's rugged individuality the most striking: the composers didn't
seem so concerned with formal rules of composing and just followed their
(good) instincts; the result is quite fresh and astounding, giving
birth to a unique style of music that just delights me," he says.
Camerata Nova Preview video (Kayla Jeanson)
An annual Camerata
Nova tradition is to commission a number of Manitoba composers to make
new arrangements of holiday favourites. This year, McKay, Andrew Balfour
and Leonard Enns each have a go at "I Wonder as I Wander." McKay says
he had a good workout tackling it, "but had the most fun with a new,
over-the-top arrangement of Jingle Bells."
Camerata Nova presents Christmas in Early America at Crescent Fort Rouge Church on Nov. 24 at 8:00 p.m. & Nov. 25 at 2:00 p.m. The concert is free. CBC Radio will be there to record the concert for broadcast on In Concert on Dec. 23.