The RUC choir is a chamber ensemble of professional and skilled amateur singers, versatile across many musics, who generously and passionately, offer their gifts to the weekly liturgical music of the church service. Whether pursuing active performing careers or engaged in other professional pursuits during the week, the members of this 25-voice ensemble come together on Sunday mornings with a common and collaborative goal: to contribute to the spiritual life of the congregation as well as to each other, through the power of singing that speaks to the soul.
Please enjoy these sample tracks of the choir:
About the sample tracks:
May it be
lyrics and music by Bri-anne Swan
Soloist with guitar and Choir
We are very blessed at RUC to have a number of celebrated musicians as members of the congregation. Singer-songwriter Bri-anne Swan performs regularly within the liturgy. For the Advent Season, she has composed this contemporary poetic response, based upon the Song of Mary (Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55). After a verse of story narrative to set the scene of Mary’s wonderment at the news that she is to bear a Child, the refrain becomes an ostinato chorus, echoed by the choir and picked up by the congregation, as a backdrop to Mary’s Song. Bri-anne is the singer and guitarist, accompanied by the choir.
O Quanta Qualia, Op. 394
Hymn-Anthem for All Saints Day, arr. Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Choir and organ
In 1956, at the tender age of 76 years, Healey Willan was dubbed “the Dean of Canadian composers”. He was indeed, the first Canadian composer to earn a substantial living from commissions and royalties, including a piece commissioned for the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Of over 800 compositions for organ, opera, symphony, and vocal solo, his greatest output was liturgical choral music. O Quanta Qualia (O what their Joy) is a fine example of Willan’s compositional technique, employing the harmonies of Brahms and Wagner in the rich organ interludes while maintaining a purist 16th C. approach to the choral writing, including a faux-bourdon verse (melody in the tenor). Given his stature in Canada, his academic achievements and international reputation, Willan was a formidable presence in any room. Fortunately for those closest to him, he had a wicked sense of humour, as evidenced by his self-declared genealogy: “English by birth; Canadian by adoption; Irish by extraction; Scotch by absorption.”
An interesting historical footnote is that Willan was Organist at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Bloor Street from 1913 to 1921. Undoubtedly he was integral to the 1914 installation of their new Casavant Frères organ, Opus 590, which was at that time the largest instrument in Canada. Concurrently, a few blocks north-east, Casavant was also installing their Opus 591, (a much more modest instrument) at the new Northern Congregationalist Church, which became Rosedale United Church in 1925.
River in Judea
Feldman/Marcus arr. Leavitt
Soprano Solo and Choir with Piano Accompaniment
The versatility of the choir is further displayed in this gospel-style song that originated as a secular piece but has been enthusiastically received by many churches because of the richness of the metaphorical river. Following Christine Hanson’s pulse-setting piano introduction, Laurie Hurst, soprano, leads off with the first verse in her very stylish and personal approach. The full choir, many of whom have operatic training, choose to emulate her distinct style with sincerity and verve. By the end however, no one can resist the urge for a microphone-blowing final chord! This piece is a favourite of our congregation. We perform it with the singers surrounding the congregation, and everyone joins in on the refrain.
Ubi Caritas et Amor (Quatre Motets sur des themes Grégorien, Op. 10)
Maurice Duruflé (1902 – 1986)
Divided A Cappella Choir in 8 parts
One of France’s most distinguished organist composers of the 20th Century, Duruflé’s greatest contribution to organ and choral literature was his adaptation of ancient plainsong to secular harmonies of the modern French school. His most enduring choral opus is Requiem Op. 9, followed closely by the four a cappella motets (Op. 10). Ubi caritas et amor (“Where there is charity and love, God is there”) is for double choir, the plainsong led by the alto section. In this recording, we have chosen to create the stereo affect by employing the Alto section as Choir 1, and the Soprano section as Choir 2 (echo). Each of the male divisions are also divided.
traditional African American Spiritual arr. Jack O’Holloran
A Cappella Choir
Employing the “call-answer” technique of African tradition, this stirring Spiritual casts the men as the questioner, and the women as having the answer (perceptive arranger!). Other technical virtues include the basses imitating pizzicato string bass, and section solos for character quotations. Two verses draw on characters from the Bible (Nicodemus & Samson) who are cited as examples of the power of witnessing to the Lord. The women lead the exultant cheer: “There’s another witness!” followed by the men in imitation, again all voice parts divided so there are 8 vocal lines, culminating in a jubilant cry in the major key.
Notes by Wayne Strongman CM, Director of Music