Adieu Christopher Jackson

I can’t believe that Christopher is gone. My condolences, solidarity, and love to everyone who knew him, especially his family and loved ones. Many, many friends are grieving today.

Since learning of the death of my friend, colleague and mentor, Christopher Jackson, I can’t think of much else. I sang my first Monteverdi Vespers, Bach B Minor Mass and many other works under his red baton at SMAM. The Canticum Canticorum of Palestrina. The Schütz Historia. Large scale works by Gabrieli, Praetorius, Victoria. Spem in Alium. Countless precious memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. I can’t really describe how thrilling it was to work with him, words can’t really do it justice. Everyone who did have that chance knows exactly what I mean.

I knew him principally as a mentor. For years we would meet fairly regularly to discuss scores and elements of early music. Those were very important times for me, a gift he gave me again and again without request for anything at all. A really selfless thing to do. It was a chance to learn how he put these musical puzzles together. The only thing he really asked of me was to be myself.

Christopher was always supportive of my desire to study and improve my approach to early music. He kept my eye pointed in the direction of performance, which has saved me a few times from going down the rabbit hole. He was a powerful musical presence in my life. Eventually in the last few years we became colleagues and friends.

Despite years of work together, it is the friendship that I will miss most of all. I’m going to miss us chuckling over Lassus, questioning Palestrina, discussing recordings, and especially drinking beer and discussing this strange business of music we live so personally. I will miss calling him up for drinks or watching SMAM in rehearsal or concert. I will miss him coming to listen to my rehearsals and concerts. I will miss his uncompromising nature.

Thank you for everything Christopher. I’ll miss you deeply.

The Choir Grows!

St. Matthias Choir has 60% more choristers than we did last year.

Something that has changed at St. Matthias has been our ability to attract choristers. Last year to start the season we had 17 very dedicated singers. This year we have 26 and the number keeps climbing. I have yet another audition this Sunday. If we grow one more season at this rate we will run out of space in the choir stalls.

Yes there is a special formula. No, I won’t share it with you. Instead I’ll enjoy saying this:

For the first time since I became the D of Music here nearly 10 years ago I’ve programmed I Was Glad by Parry. There really is nothing more Anglican out there.

We are all very excited about this, the sound in the church is so full and round, it’s going to be a lovely and exciting season full of fantastic music. We have the Duruflé Requiem coming up on November 1st.

This is your invitation to come and share this year’s music with us. You can sing, or you can listen, but don’t miss this chance to be part of something truly special.

Music List until Christmas

A New Program for St. Matthias!

Sometimes my work gets rewarded in startling ways, and this is one of those times. We’ve started a new program at St. Matthias to try and help musicians learn the skills for church musicians, and asking them to find a community based organization to support. Please spread this information, we would like as many applicants to choose from as possible.

Here is the information:

The Church Music program of St. Matthias’, Westmount is seeking four stagiaires interested in community service and the development of practical musical skills within the context of the Anglican Church of Canada. A training stipend has been provided for this new program through the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. The stipend is $2,000 per successful applicant.

Successful applicants will receive mentorship from professional musicians from the Montreal area, and will be asked to develop a community service element in consultation with our Rector.

Those interested are invited to send a CV including past community service, current musical skills and references to: john.wiens@gmail.com. The deadline for applicants is noon, September 6th, 2015.

Supporting materials are welcomed but not required.

Selected candidates will be invited for a live audition on September 9th, 2015.