Volume 12 Week 5

Saturday, Dec. 10


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(Posted 1:30 p.m., Dec. 10)

Coro Vivo Ottawa delivers captivating holiday concert
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Members of the Coro Vivo chorus are framed by a window panel during their recent performance at the Orléans United Church. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Christmas comes but once a year, and unfortunately, so does Coro Vivo Ottawa’s annual Christmas concert which is traditionally held at Orléans United Church.

The Ottawa-born Strickland studied at the prestigious New England Conservatory and the Académie Internationale d’Eté de Nice in France.

The 43-member chorus set the stage for Strickland with a spirited first act under the musical direction of Antonio Llaca.

The theme of the evening’s performances was Feel the Spirit delivered through a collection of spirituals, both traditional and contemporary, starting with the familiar African-American song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot which was performed in the round with members of the chorus encircling the audience.

Before I go on, let me first state that the acoustics at Orléans United Church are unbelievable. It never cease amaze me. In fact, they rival that in the Bill Shenkman Hall at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

But I digress. After taking their positions on the rostrum at the front of the room, the chorus broke into the wonderfully uplifting I’m Gonna Live So Can Use Me featuring Coro Vivo soloist Nikki Fitzpatrick.

It was the audience's turn next, as they were invited to join in the singing of Angels We Have Heard on High.

Next up on the program was Winter Wonderland, followed by a sing-a-long version of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

The first half of the concert was brought to a close with a cycle of spirituals arranged by the African-American composer Moses Hogan, entitled Ride on, King Jesus.

After a brief intermission, the chorus returned to their positions, with the addition of Strickland, who had a place of honour next to pianist Louise Léveillé.

Feel the Spirit is a cycle of spirituals arranged by the British composer John Rutter, who founded the internationally acclaimed Cambridge Singers, and has penned dozens of contemporary carols.

After warming up with Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, Steal Away, and I Got A Robe, Strickland tackled the somberSometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, made famous by the incomparable Billie Holiday.

Then came the highlight of the evening. Strickland launched into E’vry Time I Feel The Spirit, with unbridled abandon. The song was the perfect vehicle for Strickland to show off her musical theatre training in addition to her classical training.

By now the audience was thoroughly enraptured. After settling into a rendition of Deep River, Strickland and the Coro Vivo chorus members brought the evening to a close with arguably the most famous African-American spiritual, When the Saints Come Marching In.

It was the perfect ending to what had been a perfect evening celebrating a genre of music that is often downplayed. Out of the African-American spiritual sprung the earliest forms of jazz, and later on, the blues.

After taking time off for the holidays, Coro Vivo will begin working on their next production, A Choral Celebration, to be performed at the Orléans United Church on May 13.


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