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Spring concert features works of French Romantic composers

Stratford Concert Choir makes complicated choral composition centrepiece of its upcoming concert at Avondale United Church
Stratford Concert Choir putting final touches on its March 25 performance.

A composition the Stratford Concert Choir began working on in 2019, before COVID hit, will be the dramatic centrepiece of an upcoming evening of music.

The SCC is putting the final touches on its spring concert, featuring music by French Romantic composers, highlighted by Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem, his best-known composition.

The SCC began working on Duruflé’s Requiem in 2019 but had to shelve it, along with everything else, when COVID restrictions halted practices.

“When we started talking about this coming season, people said, 'We’ve already started working on this, we’d love to do it,'” artistic director Stéphane Potvin said in a news release.

Duruflé, who was an accomplished organist as well as a composer, took six years to complete the Requiem. The complicated choral is based on Gregorian chant.

“You have moments that are almost dead silence and you have to be able to produce something that is good and warm. Then you have the extreme, with a quadruple fortissimo,” Potvin said.

“It is a vocal challenge and also a mental challenge to keep track of everything that’s happening.”

Since the organ is crucial to the Requiem, Potvin has invited award-winning organist Jonathan Oldengarm to accompany the choir.

Oldengarm is Minister of Music at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church and has had a distinguished career as both a performer and teacher.

“He is a very big name in the organ world,” Potvin said. “He’s a fabulous player and a very nice guy, too.”

As well as performing with the choir on the Requiem, Oldengarm will play two solo pieces.

The choir will also be joined by two soloists – baritone Nathan Dyck and mezzo-soprano Jadelyn Watson. Sharing the podium with Potvin is SCC’s recently appointed apprentice conductor Ben Wallace who will conduct Guilmant’s Ave Verum and Vierne’s Tantum Ergo.

The evening will also showcase a number of other pieces by Bach, Dubois, and Saint-Saëns.

If you go: 
Stratford Concert Choir
Duruflé's Requiem
Avondale United Church
March 25 at 7 p.m.
Tickets $40, available at or Blowes Stationery