Singing about the stars and the moon

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Lydia Adams, conductor and artistic director of the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Dr. Elmer Isler founded the Toronto-based Elmer Iseler Singers in 1979. It is one of Canada&#8217;s leading choral ensembles.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO </p><p>Dr. Roberta Bondar became a Canadian icon as Canada&#8217;s first woman astronaut and the first neurologist in space. She launched from Earth in January 1992 aboard NASA&#8217;s space shuttle Discovery.</p>

Canadian space icon Dr. Roberta Bondar will be among the stars touching down at the St. John's Anglican Church July 19, in High Flight: Songs of the Stars, a multi-media choral performance staged by Musique Royale.

The event is part of an ongoing collaboration between Bondar, Canada's first woman and first neurologist in space, and Lydia Adams, renowned conductor and artistic director of the Canadian choral group, the Elmer Iseler Singers.

The event is designed to showcase the connection between art and science, according to the two.

Organizers are promising an evening of sonic musical splendour and captivating photographs by Bondar, who will speak about stars and the possibilities of space.

"We're trying to use art to communicate some aspects of science, so people will be curious and ask questions. It will also allow people to be removed from themselves, and go into a creative space, to be able to contemplate," Bondar told LighthouseNOW in a telephone interview from Toronto.

"Contemplation is another area of overlap between science and art, and it's something that we need to be able to create something either in science or in art."

Bondar will be there on behalf of her Roberta Bondar Foundation, which is dedicated to educating and engaging people about environmental issues.

"I've always believed that art and science are on a continuum. We have abstract art and we have abstract physics. Both of those ends of the spectrum are connected by the act of creativity and innovation. We need to be curious about the world. So the curiosity is the questioning part of science. Art is about expressing it...

"And when we have music involved it's another form, it's another dimension of looking."

The award-winning Elmer Iseler Singers will explore the musical spheres of Canadian composers Eleanor Daley, Imant Raminsh, Jason Jestadt, Ruth Watson Henderson, R. Murray Schafer, and Harry Somers.

They will also perform a composition by Nova Scotian-born Adams, whom the Canadian Music Centre has hailed "the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer."

She is the artistic director of both the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, national leaders in commissioning, premièring, performing and recording Canadian choral works.

Adams crafted the composition from text Bondar wrote. The renowned conductor and artistic director has collaborated with the Roberta Bondar Foundation on a number of musical events focusing on the environment.

"In this concert, she will be speaking about finding new worlds out there. We're going to be singing about the stars and the moon and putting the focus on space," Adams told LighthouseNOW.

"For us it provides a wonderful platform to sing some incredible choral music, and most of it is by Canadian composers. So we're really thrilled to be presenting this program."

This year Bondar celebrates 25 years since she became Canada's first female astronaut and first neurologist in space. Following more than a decade as NASA's head of space medicine, Bondar became a consultant and speaker covering business, science, medical and environmental issues.

She is also a professional nature and landscape photographer, having trained at the Brooks Institute of Photography in California, and is a trained sky diver as well.

The Elmer Iseler Singers is a professional chamber choir based in Toronto. The 20-voice choir, conducted by Adams, was founded by Dr. Elmer Iseler in 1979 and is one of Canada's leading choral ensembles. The choir has built an international reputation through its concerts, broadcasts and more than 50 recordings.

If you go

Location: St. John's Anglican Church. 81 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg

Time: July 19, 7:30 PM

Tickets: $30 for general and $10 for students. Tickets are available at Shop on the Corner in Lunenburg. Reservations are available at 902 634-9994 or by email.

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