Chorale Saint-Jean

Western Canada’s largets choir comes to PEI

Chorale Saint-Jean [Photo by Erik Visser]
Chorale Saint-Jean [Photo by Erik Visser]

Established in 1937, Chorale Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean in Edmonton, Western Canada’s largest francophone choir, is poised to fulfill a seven-year-old dream: to share their francophonie through music with francophone communities in NB and PEI this summer.

“J’appartiens” (I Belong), the title chosen to symbolize this tour, is for many choristers a return to their Acadian roots, including its artistic director, Laurier Fagnan, whose maternal grandparents were Acadian, and its assistant conductor, Marie-Josée Ouimet, whose grandfather settled in Alberta and never returned to his homeland in Acadia. 

“Le Retour” (The Return), is one of the emblematic songs of this tour, written by Franco-Albertan composer France Levasseur-Ouime. Amongst other pieces, the choir will present the multimedia work “Elles s’appelaient Marie,” a 16-tableaux choral suite for choir, soloists, and piano, written for the choir by France Levasseur-Ouimet and arranged by Allan Bevan. It evokes the joys and sorrows of a young woman named Marie who left the East to settle in the West at the beginning of the 20th century. Because the majority of francophone Catholic women were named Marie in that era, this suite represents the universal story of the pioneer women who sacrificed so much for their families and the establishment of new communities. The songs are interspersed with narration by Carole Saint-Cyr, who is also Acadian, and accompanied by a background of historical photos. Chorale Saint-Jean will also share its varied repertoire chosen specially for this tour. 

Concerts on PEI take place at 7:30 pm on July 4 at Trinity United in Summerside and July 5 at St. Paul’s in Charlottetown. Tickets are available at islandchoralsociety.ca and at the door.