Greatest Hits: Celebrating 25 Years of Song
Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm
Emmanuel United Church (formerly George Street United), Peterborough
This may be the Peterborough Singers’ silver anniversary season, but we think that what we have accomplished over the past twenty-five years is golden. From the wide range of works we have sung and the artists we have hosted to the fun we’ve had as a community choir here in Peterborough, it has been a wonderful journey! Come and help us celebrate as we share with you some of our favourites from the past quarter century. Joining in the fun will be a few of Peterborough’s finest vocal talents along with some “come from away” friends we’ve made over the years. Let’s celebrate!
Golden hits to celebrate our silver anniversary!
Dr. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is an honorary patron of the Peterborough Singers, as well as a renowned choral conductor, educator, and musician. He has conducted the Singers multiple times, most notably, teaching its members about the joys and challenges of performing spirituals and soul music.
Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Blyden-Taylor immigrated to Canada in 1973 and took up the post of music director of the Oakwood Wesleyan Church in Toronto. Over the years, he has conducted many university, youth, and concert choirs, including the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, which he directed from 1987 to 2002.
Blyden-Taylor is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada's first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation and performance of Afrocentric music of all styles. He is in constant demand as an educator, adjudicator, and musical clinician, both in Canada and internationally. He has taught music at the University of Toronto and Queen's University and was recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from York University in Toronto. Throughout his busy schedule, he has remained a dedicated and active church musician.
Currently cellist for Canada’s well-known musical ensemble Quartetto Gelato, Liza has performed as soloist in front of orchestras across North America and has toured other countries such as China and Korea. In addition, she is a regular performer for Toronto’s Soundstreams series and recently had the opportunity to premiere R. Murray Schaffer’s new work The Childrens Crusade. She also works with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Ontario, including the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Thunder Bay Symphony, and Orchestra London. In addition, Liza has performed as a featured soloist and chamber musician onstage the prestigious Glenn Gould Studio (Toronto), The Heleconian Club (Toronto), and The Arts Project (London). Recent chamber work has taken her to perform in other venues in New York, Montreal, Vancouver, and Granada in the Caribbean, as well as all over Germany. Liza has been recorded by both CBC radio and television and has performed live on CTV's Canada AM as well as on 96.3 FM radio.
In 2007, Liza was the recipient of the RBC Youth Achievement Award and was able to study on full scholarship with Aldo Parisot at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. Winner of the Thomas Jeffrey scholarship, the University of Western Ontario's highest and most esteemed bursary given to graduate students in the music program, Liza has recently completed her Masters in Music degree under the tutelage of Dr. Thomas Weibe. She also won second place in London's Music Scholarship Foundation competition and first place in Regina’s Music Club competition. An eclectic musician, she has performed live for Toronto’s Much Music Video Awards, for the Summer Rush concert at Canada's Wonderland, and on-stage at the Air Canada Center (Toronto), at Club Soda (Montreal), at Copps Coliseum (Hamilton), and at the Molson Amphitheatre in London.
Tenor Jacob Abrahamse grew up in the Peterborough region, where he spent many of his early years performing with the Peterborough Singers, as both a boy soprano soloist and a chorister. Abrahamse is currently studying with Dr. Darryl Edwards at the University of Toronto. In 2015, he was featured in a concert with R.A.M. Koor, the Grammy-winning Estonian National Men’s chorus, which was on its Canadian tour.
In 2014, Abrahamse sang a selection of Estonian art songs in a featured performance with Trio Estonia, a trio consisting of Arvo Leibur, Norman Reintamm, and Aare Tammesalu. He went on to perform as a featured soloist in the Peterborough Singers Celtic Concert, as well as to win the gold medal at the OMFA provincial festival. In the same year, he was also awarded the George McLeod Memorial Award for Solo Voice at the Peterborough Kiwanis Music Festival. Abrahamse has previously premiered work by R. Murray Schaffer in primary roles, as well as performing as a musical guest at Moses Znaimer’s Idea City.
In December 2016, he sang his first Messiah with the Peterborough Singers, in the church where his grandfather served as an organist. Jacob is looking forward to helping the Singers celebrate 25 years of song.
Carl Christensen began his singing career in a junior choir directed by Peterborough Singers' own Syd Birrell. According to Syd, "Carl always won whatever prize was on offer" for answering musical questions or rising to performance challenges.
Christensen has sung with the Peterborough Singers since he was 18, both as a choir member and as a soloist. In 2013, he stepped out of the choir's ranks to deliver a beautiful rendition of "In My Life" during the Beatles concert. And he was a soloist in the Lindsay production of Jenkins's The Armed Man and Duruflé's Requiem, which the Peterborough Singers performed with the Kawartha Lakes Singers in 2014.
But Christensen's main claim to fame (when it comes to singing, at least) is in the realm of musical theatre. He studied musical theatre performance at Sheridan College. He was Dr. Frank'n'furter in Motley Collectives production of The Rocky Horror Show (2013), Marius in the St James Players production of Les Misérable (2014), Roger in the Art For Awareness production of Rent (2015), and Connor in the Peterborough Theatre Guild's production of More Than a Memory. His performances in these varied roles have been called "spectacular" and "pure magic."
Carl is very grateful to once again have the opportunity to sing with the Singers.
On the operatic stage Tees has performed for companies such as the Canadian Opera Company, Pacific Opera Victoria, Cleveland Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Ontario, and Opera York, singing roles such as the title roles in both Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni (Mozart), Silvio in I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Escamillo in Carmen (Bizet), Sonora in La Fanciulla del West (Puccini), Marcello in La Boheme (Puccini), Danilo in The Merry Widow (Lehar), Monterone in Rigoletto (Verdi), Figaro in Barber of Seville (Rossini), and the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, among others. A frequent guest of Maritime Concert Opera, Andrew is looking forward to singing Tonio in I Pagliacci this season.
This spring Tees performs Tevye in the Westben Festival’s Fiddler on the Roof. He was a swashbuckling Pirate King for the Cleveland Opera, and he won rave reviews as Private Willis for Toronto Operetta Theatre’s Iolanthe. His other Gilbert and Sullivan roles include Pooh-Bah (Mikado) and Giuseppe (The Gondoliers) both for Montreal’s Savoy Society. Andrew played Old Bill in Rogers and Hammerstein with Hart for Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius. He played Karl Magnus for Second Company’s A Little Night Music. His other theatrical roles include Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls), Lun Tha (The King and I), and Maximillian (Candide). For Bravo Television he recorded an Evening with Cole Porter, while his film credits include John Masterson in Film 4’s True Blue and Polar Bear in Masato Harada’s Rowing Through. For Ensemble Triptych, Andrew has sung tributes to the music of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Stephen Sondheim.
Andrew’s engaging and natural ease with an audience makes him a favourite on the pops stage. He has sung pops with the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Windsor Symphony, Oakville Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Oshawa Symphony, and Guelph Symphony to name but a few.
This charismatic performer has sung with the Peterborough Singers a few times over the past 25 years. As well as being our guest for a 2008 Messiah, Andrew returned in 2012 to solo in Faure's Requiem and Five Mystical Songs, by Vaughan Williams.
A native of Oxford, Matthew Larkin grew up in Kingston, Ontario, and received his early musical training as a boy chorister and young organist at St. George's Cathedral. He attended the University of Toronto as Organ Scholar of Trinity College, and later studied organ performance at the Royal College of Music. For nearly thirty years, he has been at the forefront of church music in Canada (the past fourteen as Organist and Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa), and he enjoys an international reputation as an accompanist, recitalist, choral director, arranger, composer, and recording artist. A Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, he is a recipient of the HM Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Award for his work with young singers, and he was recently awarded a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Thornloe University. Matthew is thrilled to be making his debut with the Peterborough Singers.
Steve McCracken has called Peterborough his home for the past twenty-seven years. As owner of the local shop, B Flat Music, he has continued to develop his musical interests by performing, writing, and arranging. As band leader of the Channel Cats, he performs yearly at the Lakefield Jazz Festival alongside Bridget and the Gospel Girls as well as with other local jazz musicians. In 2000, Steve founded the Peterborough Jazz & Blues Workshop, a high-school aged jazz-blues combo, which emphasizes improvisation. Many of Steve’s students have developed careers in the music world. Steve enjoyed writing many of the band charts for the Singers' Soul concert in 2015 and, more recently, for the choir's Canadian Women of Song performance. He is pleased to be performing once again with the Peterborough Singers and to help the choir celebrate 25 years of musical excellence.
Lorne Grossman started playing piano at age 8 and drums at age 12. He attended the University of Toronto, studying music and percussion, but he left his studies in 1971 when he accepted steady work with the Stratford Festival, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the National Ballet Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company, and the O’Keefe Centre Orchestra. Lorne was also regular member of a for-hire, popular, and busy band called The Nova Sounds lead by Alan Shiner.
Lorne has had a long and varied career with orchestras and in the theatre. He was part of the Canadian tour of The Phantom of the Opera, he toured with Music of the Night throughout the United States, and he played two stints with Donny Osmond in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and performed in a run of Into the Woods at the St. Lawrence Centre. During the holiday season, from 1973 until 2004, Lorne was in the orchestra pit for Toronto’s famous British pantomimes, later to be produced by Ross Petty. Other theatre productions include Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Kiss Me Kate (all in Orillia) and Anne of Green Gables (for Drayton Entertainment). In 2013, Lorne was back with a 4-month run of Cats at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto, and in 2015, he was again performing Anne of Green Gables for Drayton.
Although Lorne seemed completely busy with theatre engagements in the 1990s and 2000s, he worked even more with orchestras and has rarely let up since. A favourite gig was being the drum set player for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa from 1996 to 2012, playing their pops concerts whether it was jazz, rock, or show-tune style of playing. Lorne also played, first as a percussionist and then as the timpanist, with the Hannaford Street Silver Band based in Toronto from 1996 to 2015, and he still performs occasionally with this great dynamic ensemble. Lorne is presently the principal timpanist with the Oakville Symphony, the Peterborough Symphony (he is also the PSO's personnel manager), and the Rose Orchestra in Brampton. He plays on an irregular basis as the timpanist or a percussionist with the Toronto Concert Orchestra, the Ontario Philharmonic, and the Brantford Symphony.