Cowichan Consort Orchestra & Choir


The Cowichan Consort Orchestra and Choir

The Cowichan Consort Orchestra was founded in September 1991. Organized by Robert Fox and John Evans with help from Joy Ann Bannerman and Ian Gregory, the first rehearsal took place on October 22 at Woodmere on Maple Bay Road with John Evans as conductor. Bannerman's initial musician list held 41 names as the Cowichan Valley was ripe for the start of a community orchestra. Fox was the first Manager and laid out the debut concert for April 11th 1992 at Brentwood College featuring the Fauré Requiem sung by the Duncan Choral Society accompanied by the Orchestra with Evans conducting. The following week two daytime school concerts led by Bannerman were presented.

September 1992 brought Jean-Marie Kent to the podium as Evans moved up-island. At age 23 and fresh with a Masters degree in conducting, she moved the orchestra from its beginnings to a greater depth of repertoire and concert styles. Her passion for each piece was contagious for the orchestra and the audiences. She formed the Cowichan Consort choir in 1995 so large choral - orchestral works could be performed such as Handel's Messiah. She began the concerto competition for young local artists which continues each year.

Notable highlights during Kent's 9 years with the orchestra were the Opera Extravaganza with the Three Divas, Musikaleidoscope with 175 students from School District #79 on stage performing excerpts from classical masterpieces, Menotti's opera Amahl and the Night Visitors featuring boy soprano Philippe Granger as Amahl, and Kent's Finale Concert featuring Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony.

Duncan Frater accepted the conductor position with Kent's departure to New York City and the orchestra was put in capable hands with his Masters in conducting background as well. Frater commenced the 10th Season with the Consort's third bi-annual Strauss Masked Ball orchestra fundraiser at Arbutus Ridge Golf and Country Club and four more concerts in the 2001-02 season.

Highlights were the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue Concert featuring the Consort Choir's resident accompanist Dwight Siemens, Opera Favourites 2003 Concert featuring soloists Rachel Perkyns, Colleen Ball, Bill Kelly, and Douglas Sharp. Haydn's Creation with Betty Allison and Ken Lavigne, and a program featuring Allison Arends soprano, offering Mozart followed by Dvorak's Eighth Symphony.

After nine years with the Consort, Mr Frater now works in Victoria and our 20th Season's conductor search established Robert Mari as Conductor-Music Director. Now in his seventh season with the Consort (since 2011), Mr Mari, holding a Masters of Music and Doctorate studies in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore USA under Frederick Prausnitz and Choral Conducting Studies at UBC under James Fankhouser and VCC under Jon Washburn, continues to delight audiences and the Consort musicians with his exciting and delightful programming.

Sue Doughty has been designated as Choir rehearsal Conductor and continues to provide excellent direction to prepare the choir, which she has been a soprano member of since 1997. Since 1991 Joy Ann Bannerman has assisted as assistant orchestra conductor when needed. Concerts are performed at the Christian Reformed Church or the Cowichan Community Centre Theatre with the fundraiser Strauss Ball at Arbutus Ridge. The Concerto Competition held in Maple Bay each year, results in a Vancouver Island young musician receiving a chance to perform with the orchestra. The Monday night orchestra and Wednesday evening choir rehearsals are held weekly in Sylvan United Church, Mill Bay. New musicians welcome.

Performing a widely varied program of music mainly from the classical literature, the orchestra and choir give a fresh challenge to their members with each concert. New players are welcome, new choir members also, especially men, with the season running September to May.

Below are the major choral works presented each season since 1991-92’s first season by Choir and Orchestra. Orchestra only concerts, choir only concerts and smaller choral works with orchestra are not listed. Each year the Consort presents from 3 to 5 concerts.

April 1992 Fauré Requiem (with the Duncan Choral Society)
November 1992 Haydn Creation Mass (with the Duncan Choral Society)
December 1995 Handel's Messiah (with the Cowichan Philharmonic Choir)
December 1996 Handel's Messiah (with the Cowichan Philharmonic Choir)
April 1997 Mozart Great Mass in C Minor
December 1997 Nine Lessons and Carols
December 1998 Charpentier Messe a Minuit
April 1999 Opera Extravaganza with The Three Divas
December 1999 Handel's Messiah
April 2000 Fauré Requiem
December 2000 Conrad Susa Carols and Lullabies
G. C. Menotti Amahl and the Night Visitors (full staged opera)
May 2001 J. S. Bach Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, BVW 80
December 2001 Handel's Messiah
May 2002 Schubert Mass in E Flat
December 2002 Gounod Solemn Mass of Saint Cecelia
March 2003 Verdi Laudi Alla Vergine Maria (with the Consort Ladies' Choir)
May 2003 Opera Favourites (with the Consort Choir and soloists)
April 2004 Dvorak Mass in D Op. 86
December 2004 Haydn The Creation
March 2005 Palestrina Adoramus Te
Martini Plaisir d'Amour
May 2005 Fauré Requiem
December 2005 Vivaldi Gloria
March 2006 Three works by W. A. Mozart
May 2006 Maurice Durufle Requiem
December 2006 Handel's Messiah
March 2007 Brahms - Liebeslieder Waltzes
May 2007 Rodgers & Hammerstein - twenty Classics
December 2007 Gounod Solemn Mass of St Cecelia
February 2008 Donizetti - Misereré
Brahms - Ave Maria
May 2008 A Compilation Mass - Rossini, Faure, Schubert, Mozart, Gounod, Dvorak
December 2008 Handel's Messiah
February 2009 Bruckner, Byrd, Callcott
May 2009 Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man-Mass for Peace
November 2009 Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem
April 2010 Karl Jenkins Stabat Mater
November 2010 Schubert Mass #2 in G major
Beethoven Choral Fantasy in C minor Op 80
December 2010 Handel's Messiah Sing-Along
March 2011 Vivaldi Gloria
June 2011 Durante Magnificat
Brahms Schicksalslied Op. 54
November 2011 Palmeri's Misa a Buenos Aires Tango Mass
December 2011 Handel's Messiah - Singalong
March 2012 Fauré Requiem
Bach Coffee Cantata BWV 211
May 2012 Mozart's Coronation Mass
November 2012 Karl Jenkins The Armed Man - Mass for Peace
December 2012 Handel's Messiah Sing-Along
March 2013 Haydn's The Seasons
May 2013 Rutter Requiem
November 2013 Beethoven's 9th Symphony
December 2013 Handel's Messiah Sing-along
May 2014 Opera Choruses
Dec 2014 Vaughan William's Fantasia on Christmas Carols
May 2015 Mendelssohn's Elijah
Feb 2016 Mozart's Requiem
Dec 2016 Handel's Messiah
May 2017 Haydn, The Creation
December 2017 Karl Jenkin’s Stella Natalis
May 2018 Verdi Requiem with Consort and Malespina Choirs

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