The CPO launches our new season on May 1 at our Ode to Joy concert! In addition to hearing about our exciting new season, you’ll hear the world premiere of A Song of Joys by Canadian Composer Stephen Chatman – winner of the 2005, 2006 and 2010 Western Canadian Music Awards “Classical Composition of the Year,” and multiple Juno nominee. Check out our Q&A with Stephen, and a sneak peek of the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus rehearsing A Song of Joys!

We also look forward to the combined voices of the Cantaré Children’s Choir and Calgary Philharmonic Chorus singing Beethoven’s iconic Ode to Joy. It’s going to be a night of music that will knock your socks off.

Q&A: Stephen Chatman

Q: How did you come to compose A Song of Joys for the CPO?

Stephen Chatman: (Artistic Director) Heather Slater at the CPO approached me in 2012 about commissioning a new work. My most recent experience with the CPO and Chorus was attending a performance of my Earth Songs the previous year. At that time, I met Tim Rawlings, Principal Percussion, CPO; we discussed the possibility of a new concerto sometime in the future.

Q: A Song of Joys features percussion instruments. Can you explain how percussion instruments are incorporated into the composition, and why?

SC: The initial concept was a percussion concerto for Tim Rawlings and the CPO. This idea was expanded to a double concerto for percussion, timpani and orchestra and ultimately, expanded to include choir. Once it was established that the premiere would be coupled with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, it was decided that, as a companion piece, the instrumentation and choral element would be identical to the Beethoven work.

Q: How long did it take you to write A Song of Joys?

SC: I began the work in late 2012 and finished it in August 2013.

Q: What process do you go through when you write a composition?

SC: The process varies but it is always time consuming and seldom easy. I began with a reduced or short score, pencil on large music sheets. Then I wrote out the full orchestration and gave this to my copyist for engraving. The last step was the piano/vocal score for the choir.

Q: Poems by Walt Whitman are used for the lyrics in A Song of Joys. Why did you choose Walt Whitman poetry?

SC: I love Walt Whitman. His poetry perfectly fits the title of the program, Ode to Joy, and sentiments of love, joy and universal brotherhood.

Q: Is there a specific poem you’re using by Walt Whitman, or are several poems of his used?

SC: A Song of Joys is the title of a Whitman poem. Fragments of several poems are used and the title of each movement is either a title or line of a poem.

Q: What about A Song of Joys are you most proud about?

SC: I am pleased with the marriage of words and music.

Q: What do you hope people will take away from hearing A Song of Joys?

SC: Most of all, I hope people will enjoy listening to the work. I hope it will excite and inspire.