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The Wellerman
(“Soon May the Wellerman Come”)

Traditional

performed by the Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus

 

The Wellerman is a whaling song most likely written by a young sailor or shore whaler in New Zealand in the 1830s. While not a true shanty (not designed to be sung during work on a ship), The Wellerman tells the tale of a whaling ship and its hunt for a right whale. The song’s title (and refrain) refer to the Weller Brothers, who for a time were the main suppliers of “sugar and tea and rum” to isolated whaling stations around New Zealand. This vigorous earworm features a variety of soloists and is complemented by violin and viola lines (performed by our accompanist Jared Samborski) and percussion and guitar (performed by conductor Jamie Burns). The song was “made new again” in recent months thanks to Scottish singer Nathan Evans and a surge of interest in shanties on the popular social media platform TikTok.

Recorded remotely at various locations in Edmonton and area in February and March, 2021.


Leave Her, Johnny

Traditional

performed by the Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus

 

Leave Her, Johnny is a very specific kind of sea shanty known as a pumping song. Here, soloists alternate lines of the verse with the rest of the ensemble. While the song’s function would have it sung while the crew pumped a ship dry, the theme of its lyrics inform us that this was meant to be sung at the end of a voyage, when the ship was docked. A solo fiddle line (performed by our accompanist Jared Samborski) and ocean sounds in the background on this recording help add to the ambiance.  

Recorded remotely at various locations in Edmonton and area in February and March, 2021.


Dies Irae
(from Requiem in D minor, K. 626)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

performed by the Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus

 

Mozart’s Requiem was famously left unfinished at the time of the composer’s death in 1791. Of those parts that Mozart had completed, the Dies Irae is the most musically forceful. The text references the Last Judgment (“Quantus tremor est futurus” – “What trembling there will be”) and the music is suitably aggressive.

In lieu of an orchestra, our illustrious accompanist Jared Samborski has provided an organ reduction, which is heard throughout the recording. As this was also one of our first Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus experiments, one can chuckle at the thought of various singers startling the neighbours while belting out Mozart at full volume. We’re thrilled at how it turned out.

Recorded remotely at various locations in Edmonton and area in January, 2021.


Sicut Cervus

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)

performed by the Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus

 

Palestrina was a 16th-century Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. In addition to holding prominent musical posts in places such as St. Peter’s Basilica, his compositions played a significant role in the development of European sacred music. Sicut Cervus, a setting of Psalm 42, is one of his most popular motets and works such as these are considered the culmination of Renaissance polyphony. This particular motet was first published in 1604, ten years after Palestrina’s death.

This work was chosen for the first Cosmopolitan Virtual Chorus project because in addition to its beauty, it suits a remote recording project quite well. Even though each singer recorded their part at home (mostly just using a phone), the combined and synchronized parts were then augmented with reverb and panning effects, to simulate the sound of a large cathedral. This recording is best enjoyed with headphones, where the four voice parts (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) are panned in such a way that they appear to come from different spatial locations. 

Recorded remotely at various locations in Edmonton and area in January, 2021.


Portrait of Terry Fox

Quan Le

performed by the Cosmopolitan Monday Band

posted with permission

Composer Quan Le moved to Canada from Vietnam in 1979 and lived and taught in Calgary until his passing after a short battle with cancer in October, 2017 at the age of 38. Quan dedicated much of his time and energy to composing and arranging music. This piece was written as a tribute to the amazing life and determination of Terry Fox.

Mr. Speers and the Cosmopolitan Monday Band were asked to record this composition for submission into the Canadian Band Director’s composition contest in 2017 and we are excited to announce that Quan Le’s composition was the winner of that competition.

Quan’s wife Wanda and their boys Gavin, Benjamin, and Gabriel were in the Winspear audience in June, 2018 to hear the piece performed at the Cosmopolitan Music Society Season Finale.