Classical Beat

Written by Nicole Laidler



The Voices of Broadway Show Choir kicks off the New Year with some romantic razzle dazzle, with From Broadway with Love, January 16 at Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church.

“As a show choir, we incorporate staging, choreography, acting, and simple props and costumes into our presentations,” explains founding member Dan Manherz. It’s all about elevating the entertainment value of a traditional choral concert by introducing elements of musical theatre, he explains.

Under the leadership of musical director Julie Pietrangelo, accompanist Yolanda Postma and choreographer Lara Lamour, the community-based ensemble has been bringing the musical-theatre experience to audiences in and around London since 2013.

The choir’s January performance shines the spotlight on love. “Not all are schmaltzy love songs, there are lots of upbeat selections,” Manherz says.

ssoThe Stratford Symphony Orchestra kicks up it heels January 23, with its annual Celtic Celebration concert at Knox Presbyterian Church. This year’s program features special guests Dan Stacey and The Black Swans. The popular Stratford band celebrated the release of its debut CD, A 440, in November.

SSO audiences can expect to hear a selection of the band’s recently-recorded Irish, French and original fiddle tunes, as well as arrangements by Turlough O’Carolan (1670–1738) a blind, itinerant harpist regarded by many as Ireland’s national composer.

“The orchestra will accompany Dan and his band for most numbers,” says SSO orchestral manager Liesel Deppe. “He is having music arranged especially for this concert, with the hope of being able to perform with other orchestras in the long run.”

The evening will also include a return appearance by singer and actor, Cedric Smith.

Encore … The Concert Band also begins 2016 on an upbeat note, with a February 21 matinee Pops concert at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.

Encore“We’ll be playing musical highlights from ‘Up’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Star Wars’ with some Beatles and Josh Groban mixed in,” says Encore president, Jordana de Bruyn.

Founded in 1993, the 65-member ensemble performs six concerts annually at venues in and around London. Current members range in age from 15 to 85, and include retired professional musicians as well as accomplished amateurs.

As a performer, de Bruyn says nothing compares to sharing the stage with her fellow band members. “The camaraderie and emotion that come with a group like this are unmatched.”

Members of the London Community Orchestra share the stage with the latest in a string of acclaimed soloists, when mezzo-soprano Sophie Louise Roland performs Ernest Chaussons’ Poème de l’amour et de la mer, February 28 at Dundas Street Centre United Church.

Roland, who currently serves as chair of music performance studies at Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music, has sung with orchestras across North America and performed operatic roles around the world. She is one of several Western faculty members to share the stage with LCO this season.

Guest artists enjoy performing with a group of talented musicians who play “purely for the love of it,” says LCO conductor Len Ingrao. “This joy is partly why every soloist we have had … has expressed a desire to return … and in turn, the orchestra gains from the collaboration in a way that is difficult to express.”

The afternoon concert also features Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Suite, a musical mash-up of orchestral music taken from his opera of the same name.

“This orchestra has a voracious and unceasing desire for growth,” notes Ingrao. “And as the ability of our orchestra grows, so the size of the audience grows, and each concert becomes an event.”

carmina_buranaFanshawe Chorus London rings in 2016 with a full-scale performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, March 5 at Dundas Street Centre United Church.

The event marks the second collaboration between Fanshawe Chorus London and Chorus Hamilton. The choirs will be joined by the Pearson School for the Arts Children’s Choir, soprano Katy Clark, tenor Darryl Edwards and baritone James Baldwin, and accompanied by the Concert Players Orchestra.

Orff composed his famous cantata in 1935/36. Based on a collection of medieval poems, the work is a musical reflection on timeless topics including the fickleness of fortune, the transitory nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.

Fanshawe Chorus London conductor David Holler has fond memories of the first time he performed the massive work as an undergraduate student at Western University. “It was one of the most exciting pieces I have ever performed and I wanted to share the experience with Fanshawe Chorus London and Chorus Hamilton,” he says. “Orff’s orchestration and sense of drama make this piece an audience and performer favourite.”

Nicole Laidler has been covering London’s cultural scene since 2004. See what else she has been up to at

About the author

Nicole Laidler

Nicole Laidler is a former classical musician who has been writing about London's cultural scene for more than a decade. To see what else she's been up to, visit