Home. Is it a place of comfort or conflict? Is it a physical location or a state of mind?

Lyrica Chamber Choir explores it all in an upcoming concert on May 26. The season wrap up for the Barrie-based choir will feature a mix of music styles from sacred to contemporary and the theme of home is woven throughout the program.

Steve Winfield, artistic director and conductor of the 36-voice choir, was inspired by the poetry of Grammy Award-winning American composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014) – “Tell me where is the road I can call my own… there’s a way, there’s a road, that will lead me home.”

“It’s beautiful, beautiful stuff – just brings a tear to your eye – that’s how I got the idea,” said Winfield. “The theme is about the beauty of coming home, (and) if you’ve been away from home – there’s no place like home. It’s music people don’t hear very much.”

The concert will feature several of Paulus’ choral works including Pilgrim’s Hymn and The Road Home as well as some African spirituals and additional songs by Alice Parker, Moses Hogan, and Randall Thompson. The latter set Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, to music and it has since become an audience favourite.

Lyrica’s High School Scholar Program features three new students from the Eastview Secondary School choral program. Winfield started the program in 2011, when he was head of the vocal music curriculum at the school. After his retirement, six years ago, the school’s current choral director Dave Stewart has continued selecting top vocal students to become the next high school scholars.

The program, which was modeled on others offered by a couple choirs in the province, gives students the opportunity to experience being part of a choir, from rehearsals through the concert performance: to learn challenging repertoire, gain insight and experience for those considering university and/or a career in music, and applying for scholarships.

The Grade 11 students spend their last two years in high school as a member of Lyrica Chamber Choir. One of the first vocalists selected was Julie Choi, a multi-instrumentalist, who graduated last year from McGill University with a degree in piano performance and a minor in composition. She is currently performing her own programs at solo concerts and her younger sister, Hayley, has joined the High School Scholar Program along with two other Eastview students:  soprano Mackenzie Arromba and tenor Jackson Graham.

The concert, Coming Home, is slated for 7:30 p.m. on May 26 at Burton Avenue United Church, 37 Burton Ave., Barrie. Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for students or seniors and available at Music Pro, MacLaren Art Centre or by calling 705-722-0271.

Photo: Lyrica Chamber Choir. Jennifer Klementti photo

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