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June 26, 2016

Ontario, Warmed By The East

 By Maryanna Gabriel

I board the deluxe train. 

Both of my daughters have really nice refrigerators. I know because I have just been to Toronto visiting amid all of the previously mentioned singing. After admiring her appliances and enjoying the St. Lawrence antique market, I boarded a train to visit a friend I have known since I was five years old. The train was deluxe and I enjoyed watching Lake Ontario go by as we headed eastward into rural Ontario. There is something about connecting with one's past when so much time has gone by that is quite precious. 

Ruby, turns three.*

Ontario is a place where I spent part of my childhood and memories assailed me as  my friend and I made the rounds of her beautiful home and acreage chatting companionably about our mutual histories accompanied by her astonishing dog, Ruby, who along with her pretty face is characterized by being quite voluminous. It was delightful. As my friend was showing me the barn and horse, the horse began to snort anxiously and reverse with ears back. We followed the horses gaze and as we looked into the forest trying to understand, a handsome Mr. Fox dashed out of the trees in tearing fashion heading madly towards us. We stood watching mesmerized from the paddock. When almost upon us the fox veered, his white-tipped tail twitching cheekily, as he sailed and bobbed away into the tall grasses. Now that is a sight we islanders never see. I am home now and as I look into my refrigerator wondering at what point the word antique may be applied, my heart is warmed by the east. 

*Photos credit mm.. 

June 14, 2016

Ann Mortifee

By Maryanna Gabriel 

"Silence is the wellspring of everything,
from silence comes sound."
  - Ann Mortifee

Virtuoso Ann Mortifee. 
Ann was stunning and we rose to the occasion. She seemed to draw the best out from us and nodded, winked and smiled, frequently blowing kisses towards the choir as we prepared for performance. I felt greatly honoured to be able to sing with this amazing talent and person. She seemed to pull an enormous energy from deep within the earth creating a vortex of sound amid a liquid rise and fall of notes that seemed impossible. We were at once entranced and spell bound. The hall seemed to beautifully amplify the harmony of hundreds singing, the stained glass windows creating a spell of their own. Delicately coloured light streamed through the tinted panes and curving balconies. Curvaceous staircases laced with delicate wood filigree pleased and teased the eye. 

We all concentrated and followed the directors. The cadence of lyrics issued forth as one. I learned that a beautiful and haunting love song we were doing, "Rhada's Song" from the poet Rumi, had been performed by Ann and this very choir for the Dalai Lama and that it had been written and arranged by our director Dennis Donnelly. A baby grand, cello, flute, and guitar complimented her solos which were at once mesmerizing and electric. I wept. I felt disembodied, transported, a visitor to an unseen world as the music played on. Today, I retrace the threads back to the outline of myself as the chords fade away, the sounds cease and foot lights dim. Seeing her perform is the experience of a lifetime. The choir has raised over $400,000 for education in Mozambique.

The "Gettin Higher Choir" Performs With Ann Mortifee, Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria, BC. 

June 4, 2016


By Maryanna Gabriel

"I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing."
~William James

Shivaun Robinsong is the founder of the choir. 

I have been madly traipsing back and forth to Victoria groping for notes as I prepare to perform with someone I greatly admire, the illustrious Ann Mortifee, with the Gettin' Higher Choir this week. It is a bit of tumble of lyrics and sounds in my head right now and some of what we are going to 
Dennis Donnely is co-director with Shivaun.
produce is still mysterious as orchestra members and other musicians do not appear until dress rehearsal. Ann has a voice that can blow the roof off and more talent than most people I know. I consider it an honour to be able to sing with her. We have been preparing for months and proceeds from this concert are going to assistance for Mozambique. Somewhere I read that art decorates the walls and music decorates the soul. It's true.  

Performing at the gracious and beautiful Alex Goolden Hall, Victoria BC.