In our upcoming concert “IN HONOUR OF LIFE”, we will sing a number of works that are completely new to the choir. Sametz’s “in time of” was selected by Carol Veldhoven, one of the founding members of the choir. Carol first heard “in time of” performed by Chanticleer in 2009, when Ensemble Gombert was on tour in the USA, and both the stunning musical setting and haunting text (the composer describes the poet’s work as as a “description of the order in which flowers blossom, imagining it as a metaphor for the passage of life”) clearly made an impression. I asked Carol to answer some questions about the piece, and more generally about her experience of singing with Ensmble Gombert since its inception.
What was it about “in time of” that was so gripping when you first heard it?
The repeated alternation between F# minor and D major chords was poignant in describing the bitter/sweet emotions of inevitable loss - in this case, my own death (eventually, but not yet!) when I have no children to carry on after me.
What is it like to sing the piece after wanting to for so long?
Our arrangement for mixed choir is in the "wrong" key, up a 4th from where Chanticleer (an all-male choir) sings it on their CD, "Colors of Love". I was horrified at first, but now appreciate the higher tessitura as adding to the ephemeral meaning of the text.
Are there any particular challenges in the music that Sametz wrote that make singing it interesting or exciting?
It is "interesting" (read "challenging") to change time signatures nearly every bar, not just from 2/4 to 3/4 or 4/4 and even 5/4, but to change the pulse from quavers to crotchets and back again by interpolating 3/8.
What drew you join to Ensemble Gombert when it first started?
I have always admired and respected John, and at the time. I was hungry to learn more about singing music by the composer Gombert.
What is it about the group now that encourages your continued participation?
I still admire and respect John, and I am still learning! After more than 25 years, many international tours and countless performances, the choir has become my musical family.
What can people expect when they come to hear Ensemble Gombert in concert?
Expect to hear a diverse group of singers who are united in their desire to create aural beauty, with a fierce focus on period intonation, accurate phrasing, clear diction and blended ensemble. We love to share the joy of singing with each other and with audiences.
Hear Sametz’s “in time of” and other works live in concert on Saturday April 29th, 5:30pm, Xavier College Chapel. Tickets available here!