John Zeweniuk will is the bass soloist for the Malaspina Choir’s upcoming concert, Musica Magnifica. (Photo courtesy Kathryn-Jane Hazel)

From shy singer to confident chorister

Meet the Malaspina Choir’s bass soloist, John Zeweniuk

by Kathryn-Jane Hazel

Special to the News Bulletin

John Zeweniuk never had any ambition to be a singer when he was growing up. Sure, he loved singing, but doing a solo where everyone could hear him — that was another story.

However, it wasn’t until he was a teenager and had a job washing dishes in a restaurant where all of the employees sang as they worked that he lost his inhibitions.

Flash forward some 25 years later, and he’s the bass soloist in Bach’s Magnificat in D being performed by the 60-member Malaspina Choir at its fall concert, Musica Magnifica on Nov. 19.

To audition for the part of one of the composer’s most technically demanding works, according to Bach scholar John Eliot Gardiner, the 45-year-old memorized his solo and sang it off-book.

Classical music was not always his favourite. Like his father, Zeweniuk was more of a jazz and blues fan, although his mother made sure he took Suzuki violin lessons as a child.

But after he was an adult and took up the violin again, he found he loved it. And when Malaspina Choir music director Lionel Tanod invited him to join the choir three years ago, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I like being inside the music, learning the music and being part of the process, “ he said. “I think it’s really fascinating the way it works, from the first day when we sing.”

And singing the choral work of his favourite composer is a special pleasure. Zeweniuk will be joined by soloists Mari Lyn Kelly, soprano, Elise Boulanger, soprano, Julia Morgan, alto, and Adam Dyjach, tenor.

Along with the Magnificat, the concert features Haydn’s anthem Insanae et Vanae Curae, and works by Brahms, Berlioz and Schutz. The second half of the concert includes music by contemporary composers John Rutter and Morten Lauridsen.

Musica Magnifica brings together the Malaspina Choir, the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra, the Victoria Brass, organist Peter Orme, and the choir’s award-winning accompanist, Sharon Wishart, all under Tanod’s direction.

WHAT’S ON … Malaspina Choir presents Musica Magnifica on Nov. 19 at St. Andrew’s United Church at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for those under 25 and $5 for high school eyeGO passes. Children under 12 are free. Tickets available at the Port Theatre.

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