May 12, 2023

Stephanie Martin personifies water in the fantastical world of WATER: An Environmental Oratorio

Stephanie Martin’s new Composition WATER: An Environmental Oratorio imagines two different worlds. In a fantastical world, Water is personified, surrounded by singing spirits. In the everyday world, played out in a fictional Northern Ontario town, a beleaguered Mayor must decide whether to support a developer’s factory, or protect the purest water on the planet.

“One role that a 21st-century composer can play is to focus a community’s attention on issues that concern us.” Says AMPD Prof. Stephanie Martin. “I hope ‘WATER: an environmental oratorio’ will bring people together to start a conversation about this very precious resource that sustains life on our planet but that we take for granted. One-hundred voices of the Grand Philharmonic Choir will join with youth, children, and full orchestra to bring the characters of this story to life and remind us that water is sacred.”

The performance took place at Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario, and featured prolific soloists including  Katy Clark,  Marion Newman, Jean-Philippe Lazure, and Phillip Addis with the  Grand Philharmonic Choir, youth choir and children’s choir, and KW Symphony. 

The performances disrupt stagnant modes of thinking and complacency around the importance of water by considering this Anishinaabe teaching: it is our sacred duty to protect Water as human existence depends on it. Audiences were brought together to engage in conversation, challenge audiences to think and feel in new directions, and open their ears to other ways of knowing. The music in this oratorio utilizes several styles to embrace all listeners. Some styles include opera, folk, jazz, classic choral, and orchestra music.