music

Watch: Conrad Grebel’s viral video

The University of Waterloo Balinese Gamelan in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Grebel University College)

Over the last two years, Conrad Grebel University College’s YouTube channel has become a go-to source for quality gamelan videos. 

This moderate internet fame is spurred on by one performance in particular—a piece called "Hujan Mas" performed by the University of Waterloo Balinese Gamelan at their end-of-term concert in March 2017.

Watch it now:

Watch: Spotlight on Cris Derksen

Cellist and composer Cris Derksen grew up in northern Alberta. (Photo courtesy of CrisDerksen.Virb.com)

The bio on Cris Derksen’s website says it well: The “Juno-nominated and classically trained cellist and composer braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.”

Ten years after ‘Points of View’

The Other Brothers (Chris Neufeld, left, and Donovan Giesbrecht) in March 2009. (Photo by Mark Reimer)

On April 3, 2009, southern Manitoba-based folk group the Other Brothers released Points of View. Recorded in the studio at Mennonite Church Manitoba, the album earned critical acclaim—CBC dubbed them “the Simon and Garfunkel of the Prairies”—and a small but loyal following.

Impacting the universe with the sounds we make

Ysaÿe Barnwell, visiting scholar for the Sawatsky Lecture, teaches a clapping rhythm to her audience at Conrad Grebel University College during an interactive presentation filled with demonstrations of the power of music to create inclusive communities. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

With her powerful, resonant voice, Ysaÿe Barnwell, composer, vocalist, speaker and former member of the African-American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, began to sing “Amazing Grace,” stretching out the length of each phrase. Members of the audience started to hum along. Soon she invited everyone to sing in full voice.

Voices Together visual art chosen

‘Alive,’ a pen and ink drawing by Anne H. Berry, chosen for the theme of ‘the death and resurrection of Jesus.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

‘Nine patch No. 8,’ a monotype by Brenton Good, chosen for the theme of ‘praying.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

Visual art for the Voices Together hymnal has been chosen by the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee. The 12 visual art pieces selected will appear in the forthcoming hymnal—including the pew, worship leader, digital app and projection editions.

They put a spell on you

‘One of the best things about the group is the community and friendships,’ Incantatem co-founder Allison Alexander says. (Photo by Kyle Rudge)

Formed in January 2016, Incantatem performs music from movies, TV shows and video games. (Photo by James Cheng)

Non-geeks and non-Christians are invited to join Incantatem, which rehearses every Monday evening at River East Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Kyle Rudge)

Don’t expect to hear anything by Bach, Brahms or Beethoven if you attend a performance by Winnipeg’s Incantatem. The a cappella choir’s repertoire has a unique focus: music from movies, TV shows and video games.

Peacebuilding monster

Anna Bigland-Pritchard, left, with her Seanster and the Monsters bandmates, pictured from left to right: Tim Braun, Sean Hogan, Marcel Desilets and Scott Young. (Photo by Mike Latschislaw)

Anna Bigland-Pritchard, right, with her Seanster and the Monsters bandmates, pictured from left to right: Tim Braun, Scott Young, Sean Hogan and Marcel Desilets. (Photo by Mike Latschislaw)

Stripes with Platypus is the second album from Seanster and the Monsters.

Anna Bigland-Pritchard never anticipated becoming a monster, but today she wouldn’t be anything else.

The 26-year-old Winnipegger is a member of children’s musical act Seanster and the Monsters. The group, which describes itself as “stuck somewhere between They Might Be Giants and Fred Penner,” released its sophomore album, Stripes with Platypus, earlier this month. 

Experiencing Christmas by lamplight

Oil lamps light the sanctuary of the little church as guests arrive to experience ‘Christmas by lamplight.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Guests arriving for ‘Christmas by lamplight’ at the Mennonite Heritage Museum’s church building in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Guests enjoy singing carols, listening to stories, drinking hot chocolate and eating peppernuts at the Mennonite Heritage Museum’s ‘Christmas by Lamplight.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Organist Barb Wolfe accompanies the carol singing on the church’s pump organ. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Old-fashioned oil lamps graced each windowsill in the tiny sanctuary, their steady flames bathing the room in warm light as people filed into the pews. The people came to experience “Christmas by lamplight.”

Grebel sings to bridge gaps and build community

Grebel students, faculty and staff will spend the 2018-2019 school year intentionally singing together as a way of building bridges and exploring issues of diversity, justice, hospitality, faith and peace. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, students, staff and faculty at Conrad Grebel University College took a deep breath and sang together, first in unison, and then in several different parts to build a new melody. The piece called “We All Sing” was written by Karen Sunabacka, a Grebel prof, and commissioned for the College’s 2018-19 integration initiative.

Thought-provoking pop

Experimental rock sextet Royal Canoe will release its new album at the end of January. (Photo by Sam Katz)

Begonia’s new single ‘The Light’ showcases singer Alexa Dirks’s powerful, soulful voice. (Photo by Leeor Wild)

On the first single from his new album, Shad asks listeners, ‘What are you afraid of?’ (Photo courtesy of Secret City Records)

Looking for new music? Check out these singles from three exciting Canadian acts:

A cry for ‘no revenge’

Owen McCausland (tenor), left, tells the story of the Dog from Algiers who saves his master’s life on the battlefield to Larissa Koniuk (soprano), Alexandra Beley (mezzo-soprano), and Keith Lam (baritone), in the new Llandovery Castle Opera, whose music was composed by Stephanie Martin. (Photo courtesy of Will Ford, Llandovery Castle Opera)

The plaque commemorating Mary Agnes McKenzie at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Toronto sent Stephanie Martin on her three-year journey to produce the opera Llandovery Castle. Years later, the church installed a stained-glass window above the plaque of Mary and Martha each serving Jesus in their own ways. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The cast, director, librettist and composer (Stephanie Martin, fifth from left)of the Llandovery Castle Opera take a bow on June 26, 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Stephanie Martin had often led practises with the Pax Christi Chorale at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Toronto. But during one practice in 2015 she was drawn to a plaque on the north wall of the sanctuary honouring nurse Mary Agnes ‘Nan’ MacKenzie, “who after three years of service lost her life by the torpedoing of the hospital ship Llandovery Castle, June 27, 1918.”

The end in mind

Etch Your Own Stone is the follow-up to Sparky and the Plugs’ 2016 eponymous debut album. (Photo by Judith Schulz)

Jill Wiens, left, Curtis Wiens, Zac Schellenberg and Clay Buhler are Sparky and the Plugs. (Photo by Aleta Schellenberg)

The members of Sparky and the Plugs grew up in Mennonite Church Canada congregations. They have been friends since they were teenagers. (Photo by Judith Schulz)

Etch Your Own Stone takes its name from the song ‘Stone Cutter,’ in which the singer asks: ‘How will people remember you when you die?’ (Photo courtesy of Sparky and the Plugs)

How will people remember you when you die?

That’s the question at the heart of “Stone Cutter,” one of the key tracks on Etch Your Own Stone, the new album from Saskatoon bluegrass quartet Sparky and the Plugs.

In the song, written by banjo player Curtis Wiens, the singer contemplates how he will spend his time on Earth.

RJC performs Godspell

Kaitlyn Janzen (centre) leads the chorus in “O Bless The Lord.” The disciples and chorus used their own names for their characters in RJC’s production. (Photo by Rosthern Junior College)

John the Baptist (Nathan Bartel) “baptises” Benjamin Gerwing in the opening sequence, “Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord.” (Photo by Rosthern Junior College)

Every year, as part of homecoming and graduation weekend at Rosthern Junior College, the students present a large-scale musical. This year they performed Godspell by John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz.

Worth the wait

No stranger to the stage, Kenzi Jane grew up performing music with her family. (Photo by Lynette Giesbrecht)

Kenzie Jane recorded her EP in Altona, Man., where she grew up. (Photo by Robyn Adam)

‘Love Me From Scratch [means] love me for who I am,’ Kenzi Jane says. (Cover art by Sydney Friesen)

If good things come to those who wait, exciting times are ahead for Kenzie Jane.

The Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter recently released her debut EP, Love Me From Scratch, more than three years after she first started recording it.

Gospel songs with an edge

Jeremy Hamm and Jess Reimer have been playing music together for more than 15 years. (YouTube photo)

Doug Reimer, left, Jeremy Hamm, Tim Osmond and Jess Reimer perform at Winnipeg’s Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club. (Photo courtesy of Jess Reimer)

Down the Valley album cover

Jess Reimer recalls the first time a friend told her about Jeremy Hamm, the man who would become her musical partner and husband.

“I remember being excited there was a guy who wasn’t a senior citizen who was into bluegrass like me,” she says.

From Goshen to Peru and back again

An accomplished singer, guitarist and fiddler, Sadie Gustafson-Zook is currently pursuing a master’s degree in jazz voice. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

Sadie Gustafson-Zook released her album I'm Not Here last summer. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

Sadie Gustafson-Zook released her album I’m Not Here last summer. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

I’m Not Here features artwork by Canadian artist Dona Park.

Born in Portland, Ore., and raised in Goshen, Ind., singer-songwriter Sadie Gustafson-Zook is currently pursuing a master’s degree in jazz voice at Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

OMMC offers music, fun, connections

Young musicians practice during the Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. From left to right are Anna Tyas-Petrik, Hallelujah Tezera, Aidan Morton-Ninomiya, Isabelle Netherton, and Jayden Liu. (Photo courtesy of OMMC)

Aidan Morton-Ninomiya’s review of the Ontario Mennonite Music Camp: “Awesome.” (Photo courtesy of OMMC)

When the idea of the Ontario Mennonite Music Camp (OMMC) was pitched to me at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, I was immediately excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I got there, I knew it would be awesome. 

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