King’s Choral Director Takes First Place Finish at National Competition
“We are so delighted with our win because these competitions are very highly regarded,” says Dr. Turgeon excitedly.
Dr. Melanie Turgeon has been conducting The King’s University concert and chamber choirs since 2002. As choral director, and associate professor of music, Dr. Turgeon pours herself into her work through conducting, teaching, researching, collaborating, touring, and recording.
Dr. Turgeon’s tireless efforts most recently paid off when a choir she founded, Kappella Kyrie Slavic Chamber Choir, took first prize for pan-cultural/traditional folk music in the Choral Canada National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.
As a faculty member at King’s, Dr. Turgeon is involved in research on an ongoing basis. In 2010 this led her to assembling the auditioned, performing ensemble. The choir was founded to explore a variety of repertoire with a sincere intent to uphold Slavic sacred music. Since its inception, Kappella Kyrie has won numerous titles and awards.
“There is an enormous wealth of Slavic sacred choral music that people don’t know because much of it was forbidden from being performed in its time due to the political climate,” explains Dr. Turgeon. “The music of the Eastern Christian churches is unique and deserves to be heard and shared. It’s important for us to educate our listeners.”
It’s not all about prestige for Dr. Turgeon though. Both with her music students and choir members, she is committed to strengthening technique and providing new opportunities for performance in professional venues. Allotting time for individual instruction is very important to her.
Dr. Turgeon has an exceptional gift when it comes to collaboration. In 2014 Kappella Kyrie and King’s chamber choir joined forces for a successful concert tour through Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. The two ensembles have also performed together locally.
Over the years, a number of King’s alumni have sung with Kappella Kyrie. For their 2019-20 concert season Kappella Kyrie will have a total of seven King’s alumni performing with them!
“To have singers from a diversity of backgrounds and traditions come together in Kappella Kyrie is a real gift,” expresses Dr. Turgeon.
In June, Kappella Kyrie sang the North American premiere of Ukrainian Baroque composer Artem Vedel’s sacred concerto with orchestra. Despite being composed more than 200 years ago, Vedel’s concerto was only discovered in Ukraine a decade ago. It premiered there in 2009 but until Dr. Turgeon brought it to Edmonton, it had never been performed outside the borders of Ukraine.
“Many musicians around Edmonton specialize in early music,” explains Dr. Turgeon. This gave her a great opportunity to collaborate. Dr. Turgeon chose to pair the Vedel concerto with Vivaldi’s famous Gloria and perform both works on period instruments at Baroque pitch in the same concert. The performance received high acclaim.
“A great sigh of relief followed the performance,” Dr. Turgeon chuckles. “It was a major undertaking to find not only the period instruments but the people who could play them.” Dr. Joachim Segger, professor of music at King’s; Marnie Giesbrecht, sessional organ and harpsichord instructor at King’s; and two King’s alumni soloists were a few people who were able to fill these roles. Dr. Turgeon persevered because it was another way to get people interested in unique music to come watch something they haven’t seen before.