New Work by Sooke Composer and Soloist in March 22/23 Sooke Philharmonic Concerts

Strife and Harmony is the theme of the Sooke Philharmonic concerts Sat. March 22 at 7:30 PM (Sooke Baptist Church) and Sun. March 23 at 2:30 PM (New St. Mary’s Church, Metchosin), marking the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I. The program consists of the Mass in Time of War by Haydn, with the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus; Song of Flanders by Sooke composer Brent Straughan, with Sooke’s own soprano Nancy Washeim; The Lark Ascending for violin and orchestra by Vaughan Williams, with soloist Ceilidh Briscoe; and Samuel Barber’s famous Adagio/Agnues Dei, performed by chorus and orchestra.

This is an exciting concert for Straughan, who will also be playing in the second violin section, and whose first musical love is composing. He is glad to be able to contribute to the memory of that “first” terrible war. “I had an uncle in Victoria who lied about his age at 17 to become a stretcher bearer at the battle of Vimy in 1917,” he said.Brent_Straughan

Straughan started his composing early. “I can recall at age two, in Mayerthorpe Alberta, regularly getting out my mother’s pots and pans from under the oven and happily thrashing them about,” Straughan said.

He has grown musically since then. Song of Flanders, written for a large choir, soloists and full orchestra, has been recorded with the Philharmonica Bulgarica Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Valeri Vatchev. Canadian soloists Megan Skidmore, soprano, and Bill Kelly, bass, were added to the mix. This recording is available on Apple iTunes® and came in 5th “in the world” at the Just Plain Folks music awards in Nashville. “People like it, because they can hum bits of it. It makes sense. There is something anyone can take home from it in their head,” Straughan told us.

The March concerts will be the first time the work is performed live in Canada. The well-known Sooke soprano, Nancy Washeim, is a featured soloist, joined by Tashi Meisami Farivar (mezzo soprano), Josh Lovell (tenor) and Nick Allen (bass).

Ceilidh Briscoe, the violin soloist in The Lark Ascending, was the 2nd prize winner in the Sooke Philharmonic Don Chrysler Concerto Competition for Young Musicians in April 2013. This work, inspired by George Meredith’s poem by the same name, was written at the beginning of the “Great War” and is a favourite with audiences everywhere.

Tickets are available online at, at the door, and at the usual Sooke/Metchosin outlets.

New St. Mary’s Church is located at 4125 Metchosin Road. Sooke Baptist Church is at 7110 West Coast Road.

— Submitted by Sonja de Wit


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