Choral Gems of Our Time Programme Cover

[View Full Programme]



Ottawa New Music Creators

Featured Artist of the Month - Joanna Estelle

SHORT BIO:   Canadian composer, lyricist, and arranger Joanna Estelle has won the critical acclaim of audiences from Parliament Hill, Ottawa to London, England and Barcelona, Spain. A founding board member of ONMC, Joanna graduated from University of Ottawa summa cum laude on the Dean's List as the Faculty of Arts silver medalist in 2009, then completed her MA Music at York University in 2011 and has been studying advanced composition privately with Larysa Kuzmenko at University of Toronto to prepare for future doctoral studies. She is also participating in Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz's Abwoon Interspiritual Leadership Training program in Columbus, Ohio with a view to broadening her understanding of the relationships between the world's major religions, based on the similarities of their ancient texts and teachings.

Joanna Estelle

Joanna Estelle's latest major composition, Song for Abwoon, is "a mystical love song to the Creator of the Universe", the piece that earned her a MA Music degree. Song for Abwoon was inspired by the work of renowned scholar, author and spiritual teacher Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, particularly his Prayers of the Cosmos. The premise of this book is that Jesus spoke and taught in Aramaic, a highly interpretative language founded on a root-and-pattern system allowing for alternate translations of the same text. A through-composed original setting of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer is superimposed over an English strophic song. Alternating Aramaic text sung by the mezzo soloist with midrash-derived original English text sung by the vocal ensemble, Song for Abwoon evokes 'call and response' antiphonal singing of the Slavonic church in which Joanna was raised. The soloist functions as a cantor in both the Jewish and Christian liturgical sense, while the vocal ensemble represents the congregation. Discordant elements are incorporated to represent humanity out of alignment with the Creator e.g. Scriabin's 'mystic' or 'Promethean' chord remains unresolved at the end of the piece. Song for Abwoon was abridged and re-arranged from the original version for this performance.