Over the last four months Christ Church Cathedral has played host to a series of concerts focused on the varying facets of our relationship with the natural world, with players including the Emily Carr String Quartet, Sonia Furstenau, Friends of Bowker Creek, and author/ecologist Andy MacKinnon. The series has aimed high to educate, entertain, and inspire personal action to reverse the climate crises through environment-themed classical music and keynote speakers.
This week, Earth Songs: Music for Climate Justice concludes with three concerts (May 27, June 1, June 3) featuring the cathedral's Hellmuth Wolff organ, one of Canada's most treasured instruments and the largest one on Vancouver Island with nearly 4,000 pipes. Each concert starts at 7pm at Christ Church Cathedral (corner of Quadra and Rockland).
Beginning this Friday, May 27 at 7pm, international recitalist Jenny Vincent and host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks Bob McDonald will kick off the final three concerts with Earth Songs: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Life. The duo, who have educated and entertained Vancouver Island residents over the past several years, will bring coupling visuals, narration, and music to shed light on the invisible things all around us and the farthest reaches of the universe.
The following week, on May 28 from 10:30am to 12pm, Simon Johnson, director of one of the greatest choirs on the planet at Westminster Cathedral in London, will make his first west coast appearance by hosting an open choir rehearsal directing the Cathedral’s Young Choristers. The morning’s event, a fundraiser for the choir’s tour to Edinburgh in 2023, is a unique opportunity for the general public to look inside the anatomy of a choral rehearsal. Johnson will work with the young singers for about 30 minutes, teaching them new warm-ups, working on repertoire and skills, and leaving them with a bit of that “secret sauce” which makes his own UK choir one of the world’s best.
Johnson will then become the focal point of Earth Songs: Peter and the ‘Wolff’ on Wednesday, June 1 at 7pm, playing his own transcription of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” on the cathedral’s Wolff organ. He is joined by internationally renowned children's author Kit Pearson, who will narrate the piece. Introducing the concert is locally-based Kwakwaka'wakw visual artist Rande Cook, who will share about scientists, land conservationists, and artists joining forces to protect old growth and how important trees are to our traditional lands. Cook’s carving ‘Mother Tree’, made of yellow and red cedar, paint, cedar bark and mother of pearl, will be exhibited in the cathedral from May 27 through to the end of the series.
The final concert in the series, Earth Songs: The Planets on Friday, June 3 at 7pm, will draw our attention to the vastness of the solar system as a way of highlighting humanity’s need to steward its small home carefully. In a virtuosic organ transcription of Holst’s “The Planets” by Peter Sykes, the cathedral’s resident organist, Mark McDonald, will take the audience on a tour from Mars (the bringer of war) to Neptune (the mystic), all in Gustav Holst’s inimitable musical language. Opening the concert and bringing the planets (and space) into focus is renowned astronomer, Alan Batten.
Christ Church Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverend M. Ansley Tucker, is pleased that the cathedral can get involved in projects that help draw attention to the imperative to safeguard, sustain and renew the life of the earth. “Human beings are finally beginning to grasp that we are not the possessors of the earth and its creatures,” she says, “but rather one part of a great ecosystem upon which we rely, and which relies upon us.”
Earth Songs: Music for Climate Justice is part of Christ Church Cathedral’s commitment to advocacy on behalf of the natural world. It is supported by the Gail O'Riordan Climate and the Arts' Legacy Fund at the Victoria Foundation.