“One of the things that I have always cherished about music is that it brings people together.”
– Gerald Neufeld
Gerald Neufeld, Conductor of the Guelph Chamber Choir, has been a life-long student of early music. Gerald explores how and why music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and the early nineteenth century is so expressive. Gerald explains that early music scores have minimal guidance and notation so we can never perform them today as they were originally intended. Instead, through the study of the original meaning and spirit of both text and music, it is possible to pull gestures in phrasing and articulation from these outlines to create an incredibly impassioned performance. There is a saying about early music that goes, “The old music is the new music,” Gerald noted, “Because it allows for reinterpretation and improvisation similar to jazz.”
Gerald is a Doctor of Musical Arts and has cultivated his historically informed practice over many years of studying choral and orchestral conducting in Winnipeg, Germany, and the United States. Through his intensive studies, Gerald can rejuvenate his repertoire of traditional early music and complete choral rehearsals with the use of time and precision needed for the complex productions.
A catalyst or facilitator for the music, Gerald describes a collaborative process where he works to draw out what his performers do best. Gerald begins with a discussion of the affect or mood of the original text and, once the performers understand and can ornament the work, Gerald and the performers work out the score with a variety of tone and expressive shading. On the ability to achieve balanced and complex layers of sound that are difficult to do with modern instruments, Gerald notes, “An orchestra of people who play period instruments love what they do, and they love working together.”
It is this collaborative and community spirit which has driven Gerald’s work. Always a student, Gerald has also taught at the University of Guelph and the University of Western where he works to share his philosophy of, “Education through music, not music through education.” Gerald also conducted the University of Guelph Choir, the Thames Scholars, and the Western University Singers. Gerald describes working with these groups as, “Pure pleasure,” and that being a part of these communities in Guelph and London was a fantastic experience.
Throughout his career, the Guelph Chamber Choir has been a constant for Gerald since its inception in 1980, and is at this point a, “Musical family.” A group now forty voices strong, the Guelph Chamber Choir performs from a repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary works.
This November, the Guelph Chamber Choir will present David Fanshawe’s jubilant African Sanctus, featuring noted multi-instrumentalist artist and expressive arts therapist, Gary Diggins. African Sanctus promises to be an exciting fusion of traditional African and European music and will be performed by the Guelph Chamber Choir and conducted by Gerald Neufeld at the River Run Centre on Saturday, November 5, 2016, at 7:30 pm. Get tickets here.
Other upcoming performances by the Guelph Chamber Choir include:
Carols for Christmas, on Sunday, December 4, 2016, at 2:30 pm at St. George’s Anglican Church.
Messiah, on Saturday, December 17, 2016, at 7:30 pm, at the River Run Centre.
St. John Passion, Saturday, April 1, 2017, at 7:30 pm, at the River Run Centre.
“I am delighted to have been able to live and work in Guelph. It has been a privilege to work with these people.”
– Gerald Neufeld