ALAN COCHRANE TIMES & TRANSCRIPT
Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore to write piece to be sung by Measha Brueggergosman
Three-time Oscar-winner Howard Shore will compose an original song for the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, and the piece will debut in Moncton on July 2 as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.
“Any professional orchestra would be thrilled to have the chance to work with Howard Shore, so to have him work on our own Canada 150 song is absolutely thrilling,” said Ken Mac-Leod, president and CEO of NBYO.
Shore’s collaboration with the NBYO was publicly unveiled Saturday night during a gala performance at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre.
MacLeod said Shore will compose the as-yet-untitled original song with his wife Elizabeth Cotnoir providing the lyrics. It will be performed by NBYO and sung by Fredericton-born soprano Measha Brueggergosman, along with a children’s choir yet to been chosen.
“We want to create a song that follows the themes of social engagement, inclusion and community building, which are important themes for the culture of Canada,” MacLeod said. “The song will pay tribute to Confederation but also focus on the future, and the genius, the optimism and hope of our youth.”
Shore is a native of Toronto who has won Academy Awards for Best Original Score for Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and a Best Original Song Oscar for “Into the West”, the end-credit song from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which was co-written and sung by Annie Lennox.
Composer Howard Shore, right, and his wife Elizabeth Cotnoir arrive at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood in 2012. Shore will write an original piece of music for the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, while Cotnoir will write the lyrics. PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
He has also won four Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.
From 1975 to 1980, Shore was musical director for TV’s Saturday Night Live, created by his childhood friend Lorne Michaels. According to articles on Shore’s website, Michaels and Shore grew up in the same Toronto neighbourhood and met as teenagers at summer camp, where they put on shows together.
MacLeod said the NBYO received $270,000 from Heritage Canada for an ambitious program of writing and recording an original song for Canada’s 150th birthday and for taking the original composition on tour.
Shore agreed to participate in the project, MacLeod said, after hearing of the orchestra’s accomplishments and the Sistema youth music program, which offers free musical education for underprivileged children through New Brunswick schools.
The NBYO, Canada’s longest-established youth orchestra, has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and in China’s Forbidden City, recorded CDs and won an East Coast Music Award. Sistema, an offshoot of the NBYO, now serves over 850 children in eight locations around the province.
MacLeod said Shore will work with NBYO conductor Antonio Delgado to compose a song for the full orchestra of string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. It is expected to be 12 minutes in length, with a three-minute segment that can be lifted out for radio airplay.
The lyrics will be in both English and French, with a theme of celebration and patriotism.
The score is expected to be delivered to the orchestra by May 1. The NBYO will then go into intense rehearsals so they can be ready for the debut performance on July 2, which is part of the third annual Pop New Brunswick Festival that will feature four orchestras performing from 6 to 10 p.m.
MacLeod said they will record the song in both audio and video formats, but the recording space has not yet been determined.
After the Moncton debut, the orchestra will perform the song at the new Kingsway International Residence for the Arts in St. Andrews on July 3. From there, they will travel to Ottawa to perform July 7 at the National Arts Centre. That will be followed by a performance July 8 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Ont. From October to March, they will perform at other communities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The Canada 150 project also features an essay written by former New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson about the contribution of this province’s writers, poets and musicians to Canadian culture. This will be accompanied by a multi-media project by visual artist Natalie Sappier of Tobique First Nation, with a theme of inclusion and diversity.
The music, essay and visual arts package will be used together for presentations to schools across New Brunswick.
As well, New Brunswickers will be asked to make videos of themselves singing “Happy Birthday Canada” and to submit them to the youth orchestra’s website. The videos will be edited into a montage.
“The whole idea of the project is to engage Canadians in celebrating our nation’s birthday,” MacLeod said.
MacLeod said the cost of the entire project is $400,000. They received $270,000 in federal funding and the remainder will be raised through donations.