The Valley Festival Singers perform two concerts in Abbotsford this weekend. (Rob MacLeod photo)

The Valley Festival Singers perform two concerts in Abbotsford this weekend. (Rob MacLeod photo)

Valley Festival Singers perform Songs of Strength and Beauty

Concerts in Abbotsford on Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13

Valley Festival Singers (VFS) perform Songs of Strength and Beauty at two concerts in Abbotsford this week.

The concerts, held in celebration of Mother’s Day, feature music for, by and about women, including the works of composer Fanny Hensel.

She was a much-praised and highly accomplished musician with more than 450 compositions to her name, although more people might recognize her brother’s name – Felix Mendelssohn.

Her lack of recognition speaks more to the times in which she lived than her talents, and yet Hensel is only one of many female composers who would never achieve the acclaim that their male counterparts did.

Along with music by Hensel, the concert will include works by Nancy Telfer, Sarah Quartel, Joan Szymko and others.

“I wanted the content of this concert to be more intentional about featuring female composers and poets,” says conductor Joel Tranquilla. “The hope is that this program will shine a light on historical and contemporary women artists.”

He said the concerts will speak to a broader narrative than motherhood. Works from Purcell, Handel and Schubert focus on poetry by, and stories about, women.

The concerts also reflect a wide variety of styles with music from Africa, poetry from Japan and an arrangement by Tranquilla of Leonard Cohen’s Bernadette.

Heather Beckett is the president of VFS and has been with the choir for five years. She said that while concerts made up entirely of music composed by men have been happening for centuries, concerts focused on music by women are still uncommon.

She is glad that VFS has chosen this repertoire.

“Women’s artistic voices are strong, interesting, innovative, powerful and beautiful,” she said. “As long as a concert made of music by, for and about women is noteworthy, it is worth doing.”

The performances take place Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church (2285 Clearbrook Rd.) and Sunday, May 13 at 3 p.m. at Calvin Presbyterian Church (33911 Hazelwood Ave.).

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and over), $5 for students, and free for kids 10 and under.

They are available online at eventbrite.ca, at House of James in Abbotsford, from choir members and at the door.

Visit valleyfestivalsingers.com for more information.

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