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The Milestone Concert - Musical Backgrounds

Updated: Mar 20

The Milestone Concert: March 23rd and 24th 2024

We are very proud to present ‘Milestones’ on Saturday March 23rd and Sunday March 24th at St. Andrew’s United Church (Coburg Road in Halifax) in collaboration with Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus (HGMC). For Nova Voce, 2024 marks 20 years of performing throughout Nova Scotia and further afield in Canada, as well as in the United States and Europe, setting a sterling example of the male voice choral experience.  2024 is also the fifth anniversary of HGMC, a choir that has rapidly gained a prominent position not only in the 2SLGBTQIA+ choral scene but has captivated audiences with their skill, musicality and energizing spirit since their inception in 2019.

We recognize that the music and lyrics of songs are important, in that they combine to evoke emotions: these can range from deep despair to utter joy. The music and lyrics can stir memories; in fact, our strongest memory stimuli, other than smell, come from a familiar tune and / or a line from a song. How many of us have a song that stirs memories of love, of family, of friends? In that regard, we are confident that our audience will be thrilled by the repertoire for the Milestone concert. For this newsletter, we wanted to highlight three pieces, giving you a little background on each piece to set the music and lyrics into their choral context


The Ground by Ola Gjeilo (Nova Voce)

Arranged by Bill Perrot, Co-Artistic Director, Nova Voce

Bill provided this background on the piece.

“Back in 2012, I went looking for a TTBB (four part) version of The Ground. Nothing existed. So I got in touch with Ola Gjeilo to get his permission to arrange it for Nova Voce. He told me that he was working on a TTBB version, but that I could go ahead and work on an arrangement.”

The Ground is based on the last movement of Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass using the text of the Benedictus and Agnus Dei. Many will recognize the familiar words of the Agnus Dei in this section of the piece.

The heavens and the earth are full of your glory.

Praise and adulation to God in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Blessed is he who comes.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Grant us thy peace.


Bill continues,

“We first performed The Ground in 2013. It was also in the repertoire in 2014 and 2017. I saw the published version at some point, and I actually like mine better!”


Ave Maris Stella (Nova Voce)


Ave Maris Stella has been a staple in the Nova Voce repertoire from the very first concert and has become one of signature pieces, according to Bill Perrot. Nova Voce was created out of a workshop in Amherst with Diane Loomer and Chor Leoni, and one of the pieces they sang in that workshop was Diane’s arrangement of Ave Maris Stella. Nova Voce has performed it many, many times since.


This 9th century prayer has been sung in Acadia for well over three hundred years. According to progam notes by Dianne Loomer,


“When early settlers were leaving the shores of France for the New World, King Louis XIII (1610-1643) suggested that they should adopt a special hymn for the colony and the one he named was this ancient hymn.  Acadians still regard it as their national hymn and sing it at all festivals, thus providing an abiding link with those first pioneers who braved the wilderness so long ago.”


Bill continues;


“One of our most memorable performances was in the Royal Chapel in Turin. It is quite the Baroque edifice with spectacular acoustics. Nova Voce has always performed it very, very quietly as the score indicates. And so we did in Turin…so much so that some of the wives who travelled with us wondered if that was as loud as we could sing in that space. We followed it with Witness by Moses Hogan, conducted by Bryan, and we showed them just how loud we could sing when the music called for it!”



Don't Be Afraid (HGMC)

Written and composed by Allyson Reigh (for SATB)

Arranged by Jennifer McMillan (or TTBB)


HGMC Artistic Director Bryan Crocker (and Nove Voce Co-Artistic Director) wanted to tell our readers about Don’t’ Be Afraid.  This piece was commissioned in March 2014 by the Oran choir in Edmonton Alberta for the 2014 Podium conference in Halifax and was premiered at St. Matthew's Church on Barrington Street in May 2014.  Bryan said the message of Don't Be Afraid was born out of overwhelming fear. He continues.


“In October 2013, Scott Jones was left paralyzed after being attacked in his hometown of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.  In the following weeks, Scott was afraid.  His family and friends were afraid.  And, his community was afraid.  But, instead of dissolving into this fear, Scott chose to emerge with a strong and hopeful message:  "Don't Be Afraid".  The message works to eliminate fear surrounding homophobia and transphobia and promotes acceptance for all through honest conversation and creative expression.  With words and music by Allyson Reigh and a stellar arrangement by Jennifer McMillan, the original SATB version has been reworked into a brilliant TTBB setting.  It remains one of our most popular and requested pieces.”



In conclusion, these three pieces, all of which hold special meaning to our choirs, speak to the power of music and words. Music is a positive element that helps us to accept all people as they are, free from prejudice and with arms open to embrace each other.


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