Traditional Music @ SJE
St John’s enjoys a vibrant traditional music ministry provided by the choirs, organist/pianist as well as choral assistants: Hymns drawn from the new and traditional Anglican hymn books, as well as appropriate hymns from other hymnals to blend with the readings and themes of the Sunday; liturgical music (chanting, responses); traditional anthems; organ preludes, -postludes and -music during communion (many are hymn-based).
Organist and assistant conductors: Kobie Kloppers is the organist/pianist since 1976, as well as choir director since 1998. He is supported by Ann Grant and Paddy Brine as conductors, as well as Angela Taranger as vocal coach for the sectional practices.
Repertoire: The choirs have mastered a great portion of the traditional anthem and motet repertoire, including Bach (Cantata movements), Scarlatti, Handel (5 portions from the Messiah), Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Franck, Faurè, Distler and Pinkham.
Robes and folders: Both Senior- and Youth Choirs wear burgundy choir robes and white surpluses. They use professional choir folders to file their music and this facilitates singing while processing.
Choirs: The Senior Choir provides regular musical leadership with around 20 members, from university student to seniors. They are seasoned singers, with some having sung in the choir since the mid-1960s! They are supplemented by a dynamic Youth Choir of28 members, age 5-15, who joins the Senior Choir from time to time in singing an anthem at the beginning of the services. The Youth Choir members sing the same soprano part as the Senior Choir, except for five boys, whose voices have changed and now sing bass with the basses of the Senior Choir. Though steeped in contemporary music, the Youth Choir loves singing the traditional anthems and hymns.
Both choirs are joined by a group of around 18 Volunteer Singers as well as Strings and Wind instruments for the annual Lessons and Carols Service in December. For this occasion, a guest conductor leads the combined choirs of around 66 members. At the Christmas Eve services the Youth Choir and two trumpet players lead the 7:00 pm service while the Senior Choir and Instrumental Ensemble provide the music for the late 11:00 pm Eucharist.
Social Times: The choirs also make times for socials such as an annual choir party together. In the past this often was held at members’ homes, but it could be an occasional BBQ picnic at Elk Island National Park. Lately it became a mid-winter party, hosted by Lorraine Bray (volunteer singer), and her husband Jim Carter at their home, with ice skating, hayrides, a potluck supper and communal singing. The Senior Choir members usually enjoy their birthday celebrations in the Conference Room. The Youth Choir receives a little treat on Sunday mornings, some ice cream or pizza at the occasional Saturday rehearsal, as well as one (or two) yearly Ice Cream Socials at Dairy Queen, joined by their families.
Practice times: The Senior Choir practices on Thursday evenings from 7:30 – 9:00 pm and again on Sunday mornings . The Youth Choir members do not yet have a set practice time, although this is in the process of being determined as we come out of the pandemic. From time to time the Youth Choir will have an extra Saturday afternoon rehearsal to prepare anthems or carols. The Volunteer Singers join the Senior Choir on Thursday evenings from October to December to prepare for Lessons and Carols. All three choirs have a Thursday night rehearsal before the Lessons and Carols Service as well as the Dress Rehearsal on the Saturday following, joined by the instruments.
Instruments: The church has a fine two-manual pipe organ, originally built by Casavant in 1973 and then expanded in the 1990’s by Koppejan (from Chilliwack BC). This was made possible by fundraising concerts, Talent Nights and bequests. Currently the organ has 28 stops, two Swell boxes, an SSL Computer with 100 channels to preregister pieces on the organ. A fine concert upright piano (Yamaha U-7) is used for accompanying hymns during communion as well as some anthems.