Cantabile Choirs performing ‘Song Time with Sondheim’ at The Spire

Song Time with Sondheim poster. Image via The Cantabile Choirs of Kingston website.

On Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024, at 7 p.m., the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston will be performing Song Time with Sondheim at the Spire. Artistic-Executive Director, Geoffrey Sirett, will be conducting, and Kingstonist caught up with him to get his thoughts on the legacy of Sondheim.

“Stephen Sondheim was… widely regarded as one of the most influential musical theatre creators of the 20th century… Stephen passed away just over two years ago, and just reflecting on his legacy and impact, I knew that I wanted to do a program devoted to his works.”

This will be the third concert in Cantabile’s five-concert season. Four of the Cantabile choirs will be performing: Grande (ages 10-13), Youth Singers (ages 13-18), Coro Profondo (adult), and Coro Spirito (adult).

“One of the things that I love about programming concerts is that you have the opportunity to deep dive into different composers, and into different musical genres. I’ve learned so much through the process of the program on Saturday. We’ll also be sharing a lot of stories and anecdotes about some of [Sondheim]’s creations in life, and that’s been one of the most enjoyable parts of this process,” explains Sirett.

Geoffrey Sirett took over the role of artistic director from his father, the founder of Cantabile, Mark Sirett, in 2020. When Cantabile was founded in 1996, Geoffrey was 12 and joined right away with his two older siblings and his mother.

“It was a family organization in a lot of ways. A labour of love for my dad… [and] also my mother who was very active in the early years… I started singing right away and it really informed who I am as an artist, who I am now as a music educator. It informed major life decisions like moving back to Kingston to carry on what… is a very, very special community organization in Kingston. I am here to hopefully offer people the same kinds of experiences that shaped my life,” the younger Sirett shares.

The Spire Performance Hall. Photo via the Spire website.

Sirett is an accomplished opera singer, conductor, and educator who has worked across Canada, but ultimately has made his way back to Kingston to work with Cantabile for its unique appeal, such as its intergenerational programming.

“Working with a broad range of young to experienced singers is one of the greatest parts of the job. It’s also one of the things that’s quite unique to Cantabile… We are able to serve a greater number of people… in our community and also… for adult members sharing the stage with young people, it rekindles some of the joy and magic of early musical exploration… It creates, I think, a depth of experience for the audience,” Sirett says.

“To see the continuity of experience throughout a concert of young, hard working, and joyful exuberant children, to emerging adults… to exceptional musicians, where you get to explore more complicated repertoire… The feedback that we get from a lot of people is really loving seeing the children as well as the youth as well as the adults.”

The last two performances for the 2023/2024 season will be Earth Songs on April 20 and Considering Matthew Shepard on May 25. Earth Songs will primarily feature the younger voices of the Cantabile Choirs, with a program centered around Earth Day. Considering Matthew Shepard is an album written by Craig Hella Johnson that will be performed by the Cantabile Choirs. The album is about Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was the victim of one of the most notorious hate crimes in the United States.

“It’s a really wonderful musical work and it’s a great opportunity for us to build advocacy to ensure that we can make meaningful changes. Community and art plays an important role in facilitating that,” Sirett explains of the Considering Matthew Shepard concert.

But before those shows, The Spire in downtown Kingston will be filled with the sounds of Sondheim! Song Time with Sondheim will be performed this Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024, at 7 p.m. For more information on Cantabile Choirs, or to get tickets to Saturday’s show, visit the Cantabile Choirs website.

Ticket giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of Cantabile Choirs, Kingstonist has two tickets to the concert to give away to one lucky Kingstonist subscriber! To enter the giveaway draw, make sure you’re a Kingstonist subscriber (or subscribe here), and send an email with your full name (first and last) and phone number to [email protected]. Make sure the subject line of the email reads “Song Time with Sondheim.”

The deadline for submissions to the giveaway is 9 a.m. on Friday, Mar. 1, 2024, and the winner of the pair of tickets will be contacted by email.

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