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for mixed choir (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass), narrator, dizi, pipa, yangqin, guzheng, perc, erhu and gehu  

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maiden, a tale of two forbidden lovers who are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month over the wings of magpies, is well known in Chinese folklore. Composer Chan Ka Nin, librettist Mark Brownell, and Soundstreams’ Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney had the idea of telling this story as an oratorio with spoken narration. Since the Weaving Maiden is from heaven and the Cowherd is of the world below, the music embodies the division between the celestial and the earthly. Gentle clusters of female choristers evoke the eternal voice of heaven, while the male chorus provides such more mundane elements as the mooing of the Cowherd’s cattle. In its marriage of choral sounds with traditional Chinese instruments, the music itself creates a world in which the two lovers may live together. 

Performed by:
Veronica Tennant, narrator
Xin Wang, soprano
Patricia Green, mezzo-soprano
Eric Shaw, tenor
Nathaniel Watson, baritone
Tafelmusik Chamber Choir
Chinese Chamber Ensemble
Ivars Taurins, conductor

Commissioned by Soundstreams with generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council