Arts & Culture

‘Ring of Fire’ celebrates choral music of the Pacific Rim

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:22 PST, Wed March 4, 2020

Last Updated: 1:46 PDT, Fri March 20, 2020

The upcoming Richmond Chorus concert “Ring of Fire” takes its name from the geographical destination.

The name is popularly given to the countries that surround the Pacific Ocean. Because of the way our geography is formed by the movement of tectonic plates, many of those countries are also sites for volcanos and earthquakes, giving rise to the name.

The Chorus’ concert may be called “Ring of Fire,” but they’re not going to spend the evening singing about natural disasters. Rather, the concert will be a journey around the Pacific Rim, exploring folk music from a dozen countries and singing in Japanese, Chinese, Tagalog, Maori, Samoan, Quechuan, Spanish and English.

“This is a group of singers that loves to be challenged with many different things during a concert season,” says Chorus conductor Brigid Coult. “We sang Mozart’s Requiem in the fall; we sang French baroque music at Christmas; our June concert will be Beatles themed. This spring program gives us a lot of variety.”

Chorus members from Japan, China, the Philippines and Latin America are all able to give leadership in pronunciation, and sometimes as soloists.

“We are particularly fortunate to have Evelyn Chang singing with us at the moment; she is a teacher and performer of various Chinese instruments, and will accompany our Jasmine Flower Song”as well as offering an instrumental solo,” says Coult.

Genny Trigo-Gonzalez, who still has family in Chile, will be the soloist in Cancion con todos. The song is known throughout Latin-America as a call to social solidarity. As sung by the great Mercedes Sosa in the 1970s, it was banned for some years because of its perceived socialist appeal. Although Argentine herself, Sosa stood also for her Chilean indigenous heritage.

Several members of the Chorus are also instrumentalists, including percussionists Tony Davies and Charles Cohen. Guitarist Bill Meyer is practicing his stylistic riffs for the Latin-American music and the modern pop. Rather than standard folk music, the Chorus will follow the popular music trail up the California coast with Beach Boys favourites and some vocal jazz.

While the program is multicultural, Canadian composers are also well represented as arrangers: Stephen Chatman, Wendy Stuart, Stephen Hatfield, Jon Washburn are all familiar names to Canadian choirs.

“Ring of Fire: Choral Music of the Pacific Rim” is March 7 starting at 7:30 p.m. at South Arm United Church (11051 No. 3 Rd.). Tickets bought online before the concert are discounted from the door price. For more, visit the Richmond Orchestra & Chorus Association’s website at or call 604-276-2747.

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