Review of AYRE (May 2014)
by Jason Hall, The Vancouver Observer

Feature article about SONIC BOOM concert (March 2014)
by Alexander Varty in The Georgia Straight

Review of SONIC BOOM (2014)


Review of UBUNZIMA


One of this season’s musical rarities was a recital of the far greater part of the vocal oeuvre of Priaulx Rainier, the South African-born British composer who died in 1986. Tenor William George was joined by pianists Rachel Kiyo Iwassa and Christopher Bagan and guitarist Michael Strutt in a program presented by the Erato Ensemble at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Saturday evening.
Ranging from Rainier vocal opus 1, the Three Greek Epigrams (1937) to her last vocal composition, Prayers from the Ark (1976), George’s survey persuasively demonstrated her originality and craft. If her Ubunzima and Dance of the Rain with guitar are the most intrinsically likable of her works, the powerful mid-century modern idiom of the Vision and Prayer and the Prayers from the Ark reveal the depth of her accomplishment.
But it was the Cycle for Declamation (1954) for voice alone that came across as Rainier’s masterpiece. Her intense settings of John Donne are an extraordinary achievement. Or at least they are in the hands of the right singer.
Lucky is the composer who has George as their advocate: his clear diction, broad range of dynamics, and rich pallette of colours made all of the music memorable. But all on his own, in the live, resonant acoustic of the big downtown church, Rainier’s Donne settings proved unforgettable.
by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Feature Article
THE GREAT SEA (November 2008)
by David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun
Erato draws on an eclectic blend of vocal and instrumental styles

David Gordon Duke, Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, November 15, 2008

3rd annual Vancouver Composers Concert

Saturday, November 15, 8 p.m.
St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
1022 Nelson St., at Burrard

– – –
“First off, we’re not a choir,” explains William George, rather firmly. “Nor are we a strictly contemporary ensemble.”

The Erato Ensemble, which begins its third season tonight, has a rotating population of between six and 15 members, and performs an eclectic vocal and instrumental repertoire prepared to stretch from madrigals all the way up to last Tuesday.

George is originally from California and knows the new music and vocal scenes in both his home state and New York; the initial impetus for Erato was based in part on his experience running contemporary ensemble New Music New York.

Soon after moving to Vancouver in 2006, George and co-founder Catherine Laub, who had herself recently relocated from New Jersey, began to plan. Laub is a soprano, George a tenor and composer, and they quickly decided that in order to work locally they’d better start making their own opportunities. Hence the Erato “art-song chamber collective” named, quite appropriately, for the muse of lyric poetry. The enterprise combines voices with — as occasion demands –cello, clarinet, flute, pipa, guitar, saxophone, double bass, violin and piano. The co-founders “put out feelers and were surprised — and a little shocked — that so many good Vancouver musicians were interested in a grassroots group with no funding.”

Erato’s season opener this year, The Great Sea, is billed as “the third annual Vancouver Composers Concert … reflecting our intention to bring the music of B.C. composers to the community,” and features four world premieres. It’s really a snapshot of 21st-century Vancouver, designed to reflect the realities of our multicultural town. The concert combines works that are French- Canadian, first nations, Chinese, Japanese and Persian (as well as “traditional” classical) in inspiration and flavour. Mark Armanini contributes Chinese Folk Songs and some voice and guitar duets, followed by Lloyd Burritt’s Lake of Souls, Farshid Samandari’s SunarcanaS and a “communal composition” Qanimenskan Ku Tmicw by Russell Wallace. Other, just slightly older works by Denis Bedard, Timothy Corlis and Leslie Uyeda are scheduled, plus three of Rodney Sharman’s wickedly sly Cabaret Songs.

The rest of the Erato 2008-09 season has a decidedly international arc. The Black Forest on Jan. 24 is an all-German-themed evening with Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes as the core, with some Schubert, Kurt Weill and the premiere of Larry Nickel’s Songs of the Wasteland. The March 28 concert moves to Paris for An Evening with Erik Satie and on May 16 it’s off to Latin America for Tangos, Ballads y Boleros.

The concerts will be held at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. See for further details.With their flexible programming mandate and solid pool of committed musicians, the possibilities for Erato look extremely promising.