Dear friends, families and supporters of Da Camera Singers,
This past February, the Da Camera Singers had the great pleasure of working with Canadian composer Marie-Claire Saindon at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. In our workshop we explored with her the wonderful piece, The Imaginary Garden, which we were preparing for our March 1st concert in Edmonton. This piece, the concluding work in our concert program, was one of our favourites to sing, and it’s inspiring message touched our hearts and the hearts of our audience members.
In these unprecedented times, we think back to the message conveyed by the text that Ms. Saindon set so beautifully. The text comes from a poem generated from a collection of short texts by Mahvash Sabet – one of seven Bahá’í leaders in Iran who were sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment as prisoners of faith in 2008. Mrs. Sabet was a school principal and was stripped of her role during the Islamic Revolution because of her adherence to the Bahá’í Faith. This did not stop her from covertly teaching all the children and youth around her from persecuted communities, Bahá’í or not. The short texts that became this poem were scribbled on small pieces of paper and napkins, which Mrs. Sabet’s family snuck out of the prison after visiting hours. They shared the poems with friends outside of Iran, who then translated them into English.
Despite her hardships, Mrs. Sabet continued to find ways to continue her tasks through unconventional means that circumvented the bars holding her captive, and Saindon’s setting of Mrs. Sabet’s words reminds us of the strength of hope, steadfastness, and determination, and the power inherent in how we tend to our “garden that grows inside.”
As part of our March1st concert, we offered audience members a gift of seeds to take home and plant with the hope that the growth of these seeds into flowers would inspire their own inner worlds.
At that time at the beginning of March, none of us could ever have anticipated what changes would unfold in the weeks following and how much our worlds would shift. Like arts organizations everywhere, the rest of our season has been cancelled and we haven’t been singing together in many weeks. This weekend, May 3rd, we would have offered our final concert of the 2019-2020 season, entitled “OUTSIDE”. We were looking forward to seeing many of you again, sharing our music, celebrating the arrival of spring, and hearing about how your flowers were blooming.
Instead, we offer you this wonderful piece of music, recorded at our March 1st concert, with a renewed and even more fervent wish for your inner peace, strength, courage, and resilience.