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World Premiere: John Burge--Declaration plus Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Location: Ontario, Canada
Choir type: Community Choirs
Voicing: Mixed
KITCHENER-- An extraordinary choral concert on February 12, featuring one of the world’s great viola soloists, will bring together the profound messages of equality, dignity and peace for all.
The concert, presented by the Grand Philharmonic Choir at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square, will showcase the world premiere of “Declaration” by Canadian composer John Burge. Acclaimed viola soloist Rivka Golani will be the guest artist.
This wonderful new work will be paired with two deeply moving pieces by beloved English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams: “Lord, Thou Has Been Our Refuge;” and his eloquent, passionate plea for peace, “Dona Nobis Pacem.” Guest soloists are Laura Albino, soprano; and Andrew Love, baritone.
“Declaration” is an expressive, dramatically humanitarian setting of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
It uses the text from that document: “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights. We are all endowed with reason and conscience and must act towards each other in a spirit of brotherhood.”
The piece was commissioned by Golani with the Grand Philharmonic Choir, and it is fortunate that she could be here for the very first performance, said the choir’s artistic director and conductor, Mark Vuorinen.    
“The music itself is exceptional: broad, dramatic, tuneful and at times optimistic that the notion of equality for all is possible,” he said.
“Burge uses the viola solo as a present reminder that for all, equality and human rights are not a reality.”
Golani’s “passionate playing, married with her own deep concern for human rights and peace, will bring an incredible depth to this intricate work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vaughan Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem” is a perfect complement.
It speaks as eloquently for peace today as it did when the composer wrote it during the dark years before the Second World War.
Vaughan Williams used Biblical texts and also the words of Walt Whitman, the great American poet who wrote of the horrors of the American Civil War. The text is timeless and, with Williams’ swelling, profound harmonic language, the piece resonates powerfully for today’s troubled world.
The choir appreciates the opportunity to present music as inspiration for a social conscience, Vuorinen said.
On this unique evening, the experience for the audience will be enhanced by several other features, including:
**The voices of dozens of local children and adults, reading from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in many different languages, will be played as the audience enters the theatre.
**The lobby at Centre in the Square will be filled with exhibits on the life and work of John Peters Humphrey, the Canadian who drafted the Declaration of Human Rights with Eleanor Roosevelt.
**After the performance, the audience will be invited to stay and participate in a discussion session with “Declaration” composer John Burge, viola soloist Rivka Golani, and Grand Philharmonic Choir artistic director and conductor, Mark Vuorinen.
“Declaration” and “Dona Nobis Pacem” will be performed on Saturday Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. at Centre in the Square, Kitchener. Tickets are $20 to $65, with discounts for seniors. Children’s seats are $10. High school students may buy tickets for $5 under the eyeGo program. Anyone under age 30 may buy tickets for $10, best seats available, one hour or less before performance. or call 1-800-265-8977
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