Artistic director Paul Colthorpe conducting North Island Choral Society in rehearsal.

NICS takes on French composers

Concerts Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9 at St. George’s United Church

The North Island Choral Society, in a program of French choral music, will feature the famous Requiem by Gabriel Fauré.

This uniquely sensitive piece of music is in remarkable contrast to other masses written by composers such as Mozart, Verdi, Brahms or even Purcell. Fauré’s Requiem was performed at the composer’s own memorial service in 1924. It stands as one of his greatest achievements, being one of the finest works in all of French music. Fauré’s use of understatement with modest themes, delicate textures and subtle harmonies makes for a song of solace, comforting to all listeners and offering purpose to all our lives.

The choice of French music celebrates the emerging spring season and basks in the brilliance of French choral composers from 1632 to 1986.

Under the baton of artistic director Paul Colthorpe, the choir, with accompanist Elvera Penner and the NICS orchestra, will be performing an orchestral work by Jean-Baptiste Lully and choral works; Ubi caritas by Maurice Duruflé; Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine and Pavane Op.50; Charles Gounod’s Sanctus; Panis Angelicus by César Franck; and Hymne des Marseillais by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. The concert will end with a flourish – Apotheose from the last movement of the Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale Op.15 by Hector Berlioz.

As Paul Colthorpe has said: “Berlioz wears his heart on his sleeve.”

Berlioz was a bit of a showman, conducting large orchestras, even as many as a 1,000 musicians. The NICS performance will be by a choir of 65 singers and 18 instrumentalists.

The soloists will be Megan Skidmore (soprano) and Christopher Bellamy (bass).

Skidmore lives in Powell River and Bellamy lives in Comox. Both have resumes that read as if they should rightly be in the concert halls of Europe.

Both soloists have sung with NICS before and are well known to Comox Valley audiences, who have been captivated by the sound of their voices.

The concerts are on Friday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m. at St. George’s United Church, 505 Sixth St. in Courtenay.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Blue Heron Books in Comox and Laughing Oyster Books in Courtenay.

Tickets can also be obtained at the door, where tickets for ages 12 and under can be purchased for $5.

For more information, visit


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