Jazz Meets Choral | Hamilton's Musicata Chamber Choir Offers The Joy Of Blue March 3 2024

Hamilton's Musicata Chamber Choir
The Joy Of Blue
March 3, 2024

Hamilton's Musicata Chamber Choir will be presenting a concert infused with jazz and classical music. The choir will be joined by a jazz quartet for Will Todd's Mass in Blue. 

Also featured will be Tierra de Ensueño by Canadian composer Javier Vasquez, among other pieces.

Founded in 1982 as the John Laing Singers by noted conductor John Laing, Musicata is a 28-voice chamber choir. Current Music Director Roger Bergs has developed a reputation for adventurous programming. 

Musicata Chamber Choir at the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton, Ontario
Musicata Chamber Choir (Photo courtesy of the ensemble)

The Jazz Quartet

The quartet consists of pianist Chris Pruden, saxophonist Daniel Rubinoff, bassist Andrew Downing, and drummer Mack Longpré. Pruden, Rubinoff, and Downing have performed with the choir on previous occasions, while Longpré is making his début with Musicata.

Pianist and keyboardist Chris Pruden has performed widely across North America, Europe, and China. He is a regular contributor and performer with a wider range of ensembles, including Juno-nominated Tara Kannangara group, Language Arts, Zinnia, RELAY, Future Machines, and others, and his music practice incorporates contemporary classical, folk, rock, and electronic music along with jazz.

Along with performing and recording as a bassist, Andrew Downing is also a composer and band leader. He plays the cello along with bass, and performs as a classical chamber musician along with a range of genres that include global and roots music. His music projects include performing and leading his chamber jazz ensemble Meodeon to accompany silent film screenings.

Daniel Rubinoff is a seasoned soloist and chamber musician who has performed widely across North America and in France. He is also a recording artist with several of his own well received releases. A former adjunct Professor of Saxophone at York University, as a student he won the ARCT Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory for the highest score in the orchestral instrumental category

Drummer Mack Longpré holds a Bachelor of Jazz Performance from the University of Toronto. He's performed with several ensembles, including the Tara Kannangara Group, ZINNIA, and Future Machines, among others, and is also a recording artist with several albums in his discography.

Jazz quartet instruments - piano, upright bass, saxophone
Image courtesy of Musicata

The Music

Will Todd – Mass in Blue

British composer Will Todd's Mass in Blue resets the Latin Mass with grooves and blues harmonies. The arrangement includes sections of piano solos and interactions between the soloists and the choir.

The piece was originally commissioned in 2003 by Hertfordshire Chorus. Todd wrote it for his wife, soprano Bethany Halliday, as a piece for soprano soloist and SATB choir, incorporating the standard jazz quartet of piano, bass, drum kit, and alto sax.

Musically, the work fuses jazz, pure blues, and classical choral idioms. It has quickly become a popular work in the choral repertoire, with a full band and orchestral versions also available.  

Javier Vazquez - Tierra de Ensueño 

Jay (Javier) Vazquez is a vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/composer/arranger. He began his musical career in his native Mexico, including studies at the National University of Mexico. Along with his own performances, he's the Musical Director and Booking Agent for JV Music company.

His piece also incorporates a jazz quartet within a choir, seamlessly weaving bluesy melodies and choral idioms together. 

Here's a taste of his piece, which premiered in Toronto in 2017: