Circle of Compassion

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Circle of Compassion

Chor Leoni’s very first CD, Songs of War and Peace, was a compilation of music performed at our early annual Remembrance Day concerts. Since that time, with the realization that war does not lead to peace, we have increasingly dedicated our concerts to the citizens of all nationalities and faiths who have experienced loss and deserve our compassion. Circle of Compassion is a compilation of the music which we have performed in recent Remembrance Day concerts; much of this music was either commissioned by, or arranged for, Chor Leoni. It is a choral tour de force and offers a stunning view of Chor Leoni’s controlled power. The CD contains music from many lands, cultures, and languages, from Canada to Japan, from Russia to Spain, from Germany to England. We offer it as compassion and consolation to all those who have suffered loss. Circle of Compassion received the 2008 National Award for Outstanding Choral Recording given by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors.

Track List

  1. And Death Shall Have No Dominion Kenneth Jennings
  2. Beati Mortui Felix Mendelssohn
  3. Christmas in the Trenches John McCutcheon, arr. Don Macdonald
  4. Dulce et Decorum Larry Nickel
  5. O Vos Omnes Pablo Casals, arr. Diane Loomer
  6. Dirge from Cymbeline Conrad Susa
  7. Tarantella Randall Thompson
  8. Psaume 121 Darius Milhaud
  9. Vechnaya Pamiat (from Panihida No. 2) Pavel Chesnokov
  10. Iltapilviä Toivo Kuula
  11. Choose Something Like a Star (from Frostiana) Randall Thompson, arr. Stephen Smith
  12. Reconciliation Stephen Chatman
  13. Furusato Teiichi Okano, arr. Diane Loomer
  14. Der 23. Psalm Franz Schubert
  15. Pensive on Her Dead Gazing Stephen Smith
  16. Bring Him Home (from Les Misérables) Alain Boublin and Claude-Michel Schönberg, arr. Ken Cormier


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  1. Chor Leoni is well known for its Remembrance day concerts, and this latest addition to its CD catalogue is a compilation of works performed at its most recent November concerts. “Is is dedicated to the citizens of all nationalities and faiths who have experienced loss and who deserve our compassion,” writes conductor Diane Loomer. The singing is sensitive and beautiful as always, and the selections range from classics such as Schubert’s setting of Psalm 23 and Randall Thompson’s Choose Something Like a Star to works written for Chor Leoni, including the premiere recording of Stephen Smith’s moving Pensive on Her Dead Gazing. And just try to stay dry-eyed during Bring Him Home from Les Misérables!

    Patricia Abbott, editor
    newsletter of Association of Canadian Choral Directors
    Summer 2007 edition

    —Pat Abbott |
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  2. Canada’s foremost choral ensemble shows compassion and consolation on new album

    On its newest album, Circle of Compassion, Chor Leoni Men’s Choir has a wonderfully homogenized sound. The first tenors sing comfortably in the upper stratosphere of the vocal range. On the other end, the basses sing with edge. They are masters of a varied colour palette, at times dramatic, and other times quiet and subtle, but always in control of the pitch. Never does one voice protrude in an unseemly manner. I am absolutely in awe of the blend and nuance they achieve.

    Formed in 1992 by conductor Diane Loomer, Chor Leoni is one of Canada’s foremost choral ensembles, known throughout North America and Europe. Circle of Compassion was also the name of the choir’s 2005 Remembrance Day concert. The (Remembrance Day ed.) concerts are cherished locally and are offered, according to the CD liner notes, “in compassion and consolation to all those who have suffered loss.”

    The repertoire on this CD is varied: seven of the 15 tracks represent the work of Vancouver composers including Steven Chatman, Stephen Smith, Larry Nickel, Ken Cormier and Loomer herself. Texts by Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Shakespeare inspire the songwriters. Some of the music has a more populist appeal. The song Christmas in the Trenches, for example, is a lovely ballad for solo tenor and choir. Other works offer more complex examples of choral art. Pensive on Her Dead Gazing (poem by Walt Whitman, music by Stephen Smith) features dense and dramatic choral harmonies leading to a tender lullaby of lament: “Give me my darlings back again.” The interpretation of Choose Something Like a Star (poem by Robert Frost, music by Randall Thompson) is stunning. The CD ends pensively with a note of the familiar, Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables) with music by Schoenberg and Boublil.

    Circle of Compassion received the 2008 National Award for Outstanding Choral Recording given by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. For lovers of choral music, it is highly recommended.

    Frances Pollet is music director at First Metropolitan United in Victoria.

    This review by Frances Pollet appeared in the November 2008 issue of The United Church Observer and is posted with permission of the author and publisher.

    —Frances Pollet |
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  3. After a day listening to the more conventional renderings, I played again your Circle of Compassion. It resonates perfectly with the mood and the theme of today – with remembering. As an RAF Radar veteran I always search for a more personal kind of music for this day; beyond the bugles and the Valiant Hearts and the Last Posts, splendid though they be. In any case, Chor Leoni can produce nothing wrong in my eyes (ears). Thank you for all the wonderful music you sing – at any time of the year!

    —N. Ann Smith, Ottawa |
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