Local composer Fairbank to premiere work with Via Choralis

Nicholas Fairbank’s Isbjørn! premieres in November

SIDNEY — Five Victoria choirs will collaborate next month for performances of Isbjørn! — a work inspired by the High Arctic and whose title means “polar bear” in Norwegian.

From mid-­September to mid-­October 2012 the composer (and conductor for Via Choralis) Nicholas Fairbank, participated in The Arctic Circle Expedition, an international artistic residency in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, north of the Arctic Circle and just 500 miles from the North Pole.

There he sailed around the island of Spitsbergen aboard a 50-­metre tall ship with 25 other artists from around the world and began writing a large choral work inspired by the Arctic landscape.

His trip was financed in part by a number of individuals who sponsored one or more bars of music in the score; each sponsored bar contains the sponsor’s initials represented by musical notes.

Now, a year later, Via Choralis, who commissioned the work with financial assistance from the B.C. Arts Council, will be joined by Ensemble Laude, Vox Humana, the Viva Youth Choirs and Hexaphone, all conducted by Fairbank, for the opening performance in Sidney on Nov. 10.

The piece is also scored for piano and percussion and uses the full extent of the performance space, placing singers around the room.

“The logistics are proving to be quite a challenge, but fortunately we have a great group of people helping with the practical details,” said Fairbank.

Prior to the concert, photos from Fairbank’s trip will be projected onto a large screen over the stage as an introduction to the Arctic theme.

North of the Arctic Circle featuring Isbjørn! takes place Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Sidney (10030 Third St.)

Tickets are $20 (regular) and $5 (students) and are available at Tanner’s Books and The Dollar Den in Brentwood. Admission is free for children 12 and under.

For more information on Via Choralis visit www.viachoralis.ca.

— With files from Via Choralis