“The choir’s musical curiosity is high, and its dedication to professional standards is exemplary… I feel privileged to conduct such a fine group of singers.”
Under the direction of founder Patrick Wedd, Musica Orbium gave its first concert in November 1992. The ensemble's mission is to present a distinct and diverse choral repertoire to an audience interested in more than traditional programming. From Renaissance to jazz, Orbium has covered a wide variety of genres and spanned many eras over the past 26 years, performing more than 400 works reflecting a broad range of musical and cultural heritages.
The ensemble produces its own concerts twice a year in the Montreal region, fequently collaborates with local orchestras and organizations and has been heard on CBC radio, both locally and nationally.
While recognized especially for its a cappella repertoire, the choir also performs with various instrumental ensembles, such as Ensemble Caprice. Past collaborations with them include J.S. Bach’s exquisite Mass in B Minor, which garnered the recognition of the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and Handel's grandiose Coronation Anthems.
Audiences who attend a Musica Orbium concert are always in for a treat. In 2016, the choir mesmerized the public in two sold-out performances of Tallis’s Spem in alium and Striggio’s Ecce beatam lucem, in which listeners were invited to leave their seats and circulate among the singers. Last year, the ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary by offering Montreal two thrilling performances of J.S. Bach’s intensely dramatic St Matthew Passion, as it had never been seen before in this city: with two organs, two complete choirs with soloists and two orchestras divided at either end of the church, as per the first performance of this masterwork in 1736, in the Thomaskirche in Lieipzig.
From the quality of execution to the chance to hear all-too-infrequently performed jewels of the choral repertoire, Musica Orbium’s concerts offer audiences rare and memorable emotional moments that bring heaven a little closer to Earth.
The choir benefits from the support of the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.
Patrick Wedd directed his first church choir at the age of 12. After obtaining degrees in organ performance from the universities of Toronto and British Columbia, he began his professional career in Vancouver, serving as music director at Christ Church Cathedral. In 1986 he moved to Montreal to become artistic director of the Tudor Singers and music director of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. In 1991, he was named music director of the Church of St. John the Evangelist and, in 1996, took the position of music director at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal. Patrick retired from his professional duties in 2018, leaving him plenty of free time to pursue his myriad other projects.
His career as a pianist, harpsichordist and organist spans all branches of music from medieval to avant-garde. He has concertized extensively in Canada, the United States, Australia and England, appeared as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Orchestra of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and his recordings include contemporary music for the Canadian Music Centre, light classics for the CBC, and the Poulenc and Jongen concertos with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. His most recent disk presents the major organ works by Healey Willan, recorded on the magnificent Casavant organ of the Église St-Jean-Baptiste in Montreal.
An accompanist and conductor, he is also frequently heard as host and commentator on CBC radio. He composes and arranges, and was a significant contributor to the new hymnbook for the Anglican Church. He has given many conducting master classes and workshops, and for three years was in charge of the choral program of the faculty of music at the Université de Montréal. The CAMMAC Music Centre welcomed Patrick as choirmaster to direct Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms during its 2016 summer program.
His most recent appearances include an engagement as organist with the OSM Chamber Choir on the Grand Orgue Pierre Béique Casavant organ in the Maison symphonique de Montréal.
“The very beginnings of Musica Orbium are characteristic of its unique existence. Asked by the local center of the Royal Canadian College of Organists to provide a choir for two events (one local, the other international), I was then approached by the singers involved. They had all enjoyed the experience of performing challenging repertoire with other gifted musicians. And so began coming up to 25 happy years of choral concerts. Two months of weekly rehearsals regularly produce highly skillful presentations of works as varied as J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, Monteverdi’s Vespers or Tallis’ Spem in Alium. The choir’s musical curiosity translates into a dedication to professional standards that is exemplary. Each singer takes the job of learning notes very seriously, the understanding being that we begin to work on the music and its stylish performance from the very first rehearsal. Musica Orbium prides itself on the highest standards of musicality and deportment, and it has been a delight to note the appreciation (indeed, sometimes the astonishment) of the orchestral conductors who have engaged us. The fact that we have a regular waiting list of singers wishing to join us is testament to the pleasure the ensemble brings to its members.
I genuinely believe that Musica Orbium has been a very positive influence in a city and province where the general standards of choral singing have risen steadily during the many years of our existence. I believe that this level of achievement can only grow in our future, and I feel privileged to conduct such a fine group of singers.”
- Patrick Wedd
Musica Orbium comprises approximately 60 professional and musically gifted amateur singers. Each possesses a high level of musicianship, strong individual vocal technique and a desire to be challenged in an ensemble environment. Members must pass an audition, which includes demonstrating excellent sight-reading skills, and are then expected to prepare their parts independently in order to focus on a stylish interpretation and musical expression from the very first rehearsal. The excellence of the standards for singers in this choir, their ability to assimilate new pieces and styles, as well as the personal growth and outstanding musical experience they enjoy, is widely recognized by the Montreal musical community and attested to by the list of singers wishing to join.
Louis Langelier, president
Lise Rochette, vice-president
Arek Keuchguerian, secretary
Judi Meade, treasurer
Patrick Wedd (ex-officio)