OrgAlt - productions

N.B. While most of the following are sole productions of Organ Alternatives, other presenters, co-presenters and other partners are acknowledged where possible.

AESCHYLUS: Choephori (‘The Libation Bearers’), translated by Tony Harrison
(Theatre Erindale, University of Toronto Mississauga, October 2003)
When engaged by U of T to compose the score for and musically direct this 4th year drama student production of the 2nd in the monumental Orestian Trilogy by the father of Greek Tragedy the dark and inhuman text and story suggested the use of the organ as the principal musical medium. The all-recorded score also featured soprano and alto recorders and prcussion instruments. 
Direction: Heinar Piller; Music: Christopher Dawes, Avery MacLean; Movement: Sarah Jane Burton.
See photographs at

Le Cor Magique (St. Peter’s Church, Cobourg, October 2003, St. James’ Cathedral, Toronto, November 2003)
In their debut performance together, Christopher Dawes and Michael Cumberland premiere Bengt Hambraeus’ 2000 composition for organ and alphorn, “Le Cor Magique”, along with other works for organ and alphorn, and Prokoffiev’s Peter and the Wolf with Cumberland as narrator and puppeteer.
Michael Cumberland, alphorn; Christopher Dawes, organ

Bach Meets Gould: “Two Musics in Mind” (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Toronto, Glenn Gould Foundation September 1999; Knox Prebyterian Church, Stratford Summer Music July 2003)
On a fall afternoon in 1970, Glenn Gould, age 38 and researching the third of his Solitude Trilogy documentaries, enters St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Toronto. With the humourous but thought-provoking aid of a ‘caretaker’ with a curious similarity to J.S. Bach, he discovers the raised and removed organ loft as the point of ultimate musical solitude, and the instrument contained therein as a vehicle for the music which so defined him.
Organists and Actors: Christopher Dawes, Peter Tiefenbach; Direction: John Van Burek

The Healing Time (St. James’ Cathedral, Toronto, March 2001)
A musical meditation centred on the Gregorian lenten office hymn Ecce tempus idoneum, juxtaposing 17th and 20th century settings of penitential sacred texts with organ repertoire, and concluding with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ monumental Mass in G minor performed by the Cathedral’s principal liturgical choirs.
The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys and Pilgrim Singers of St. James’ Cathedral / Christopher Dawes, director; Michael Bloss, organist

The Funeral of J.S Bach (St. James’ Cathedral, Toronto, October 2000)
To finish St. James’ Cathedral’s year-long Bach 2000 celebrations, a program honouring the great master and recreating some of the music that might have been heard at Sunday Vespers at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig just after death took him at age 65 on July 28th, 1750. Organ and Choral works of Bach and his contemporaries. 
Tallis Choir of Toronto/Peter Walker, director; Organist Christopher Dawes

Telling Tayles II (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, December 1998)
The second annual presentation in support of literacy by the Literacy sub-committee of the St. James' Cathedral Outreach committee, assisted by Organ Alternatives and Frontier College. This year's production was entitled "The Proud Angel".
Organist Christopher Dawes; Narrator Mary Druce; Book Illustrations by Mary Bekiaris

Telling Tayles I (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, December 1997)
An annual presentation in support of literacy by the Literacy sub-committee of the St. James' Cathedral Outreach committee, assisted by Organ Alternatives and Frontier College. Each year, a new children's story is commissioned, performed live on the Saturday nearest St. Nicholas' Day in early December, and distributed in published form free to all children who attend. The inaugural production was "Half a Thimble" by Mary Druce.

Pilgrim In Time "200 years' journey with St. James" (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, April 1997)
 In 1797, a parish was founded in the town of York for a church, to be dedicated to James the Apostle, patron saint of pilgrims. 200 years later, a newly-commissioned theatrical event combined drama, music, light and sound to chronicle that Cathedral church's own journey, up to the present day and into the future - along with that of the diocese and city that continue to grow up with it. The event was performed, designed, and produced by a mixed professional and amateur cast and crew of 150 people from all over Toronto.

Passion In Motion (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, March 1996)
The premiere of a new piece of original choreography to a 19th century choral work, Via Crucis by Franz Liszt, with organ and choral works of Francis Poulenc and Marcel Dupre. Supported by project grants from the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Soloist Mary-Lou Fallis; Orpheus Choir of Toronto;
Choreography by Danny Grossman

Spirit's Wind (St. James’ Cathedral, First Night Toronto 1996)
A programme drawing upon the ancient melodies of the Jewish and Christian faiths, and including the premiere of a commissioned work for organ, cantor and men's chorus by Daniel Eliezer Friedman. Works of Biebl, Dupré, Cook, Togni, in addition to traditional Jewish Hanukka songs and Gregorian chant.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Cantor Israel Friedman; Male Choristers

The Splendor of San Marco (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, October 1995)
A recreation for CBC Radio's Arts National , using period instruments and traditional Gregorian chant, of the instrumental and vocal music from a High Mass in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, as it might have been heard at the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice at the end of the 16th century.
Organist Christopher Dawes; The Purcell Consort

Pipes-A-Peal (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, May 1995)
Fund-raising concert for the installation of North America's largest peal of change-ringing bells in the belfry of St. James' Cathedral, featuring organ music based on the sound of bells, 40 handbell ringers, and dramatic readings from The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L.Sayers. The Bells were eventually installed in 1997, and dedicated during a visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.
Organists Christopher Dawes, Giles Bryant; Readers Moira Esdaile, John Rammell; Handbell Ringers of
St. John’s Church York Mills

Songès for Swete Saint George (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, April 1995)
A programme of Celtic- and Celtic-inspired music for organ and other instruments in aid of the restoration of historic Saint George's Round Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which was gutted by fire in June 1994.
Organists Christopher Dawes, William O’Meara; Celtic Instruments Brian Taheny; Bagpipes Allan Eaton;
Vocals Ruth Sutherland

Organdanza! (St. James’ Cathedral, First Night Toronto 1995)
A programme of Dance Music on the organ, featuring Boleros, Waltzes, Pavanes, Chaconnes and Minuets by Bossi, Susato, Sweelinck, Bach, Lefébûre-Wély, and others.
Organist Christopher Dawes

Phantasmata III "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, ArtsWeek 1994)
Midnight organ recital about depiction in 20th century French organ music, with narrated descriptions of the people and things depicted therein. Works of Debussy, Alain, Widor and Vierne.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Narrator Chantale Groulx

Concerto! (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, April 1994)
A programme of baroque concertos for organ and orchestra, featuring two organists, two organs and an orchestra on 18th century instruments, and narration by a noted early music scholar. Works of Haydn, Handel, and Bach.
Organists Christopher Dawes, Stephanie Martin; Old York Baroque Ensemble; Narrator David Fallis

Spirare Pulsare (St. James’ Cathedral, First Night Toronto 1994)
Concert of original works and transcriptions for organ and percussion instruments including drums, cymbals, tom-toms, gongs, timpani, glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, tambourines, effects.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Percussion Paul Houle

Symphonic Portraits (Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton , May 1993; St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, October 1993)
Performances of two portrait-painting masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire: The Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar and Pictures at an Exhibition by Modeste Mussorgsky, along with narrated descriptions of the people and things depicted therein.
Organists and Narrators: Christopher Dawes, Giles Bryant

Peter and the Wolf (Church of the Holy Trinity Toronto, May 1993, Cliffcrest United Church Toronto (November 1994), April 1996; St. George’s Anglican Church, Guelph Spring Festival, June 1996; West End Christian Reformed Church Musica Festiva, Edmonton 1997; St. John's Cathedral Saskatoon, 1997; toured with “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” to Trinity Church Ottawa, St. Peter’s Church Brockville, Chalmers United Church Kingston and Bridge Street United Church Belleville, Nov. 1994)
An adaptation of Sergei Prokoffiev's beloved symphonic tale using the stops of the organ to portray the characters in the story.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Storyteller Mary Druce

Phantasmata II "night words and worlds on the wind"(St. Paul’s Church Toronto, ArtsWeek 1993)
A dramatically-lit midnight recital of poetry, dance and organ music commemorating the 25th anniversary of the death of Healey Willan; texts by Lampman, Dickens, Nichol, Adams, Atwood, Cohen, Helwig, Thomas, Poe, Benét; Music by Messiaen, Alain, Langlais, Robertson and Willan, with improvisations.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Choreography Sarah Jane Burton

Three Trees on the Low Sky (St. Paul’s Church Toronto, April 1993)
A dramatically-lit midnight recital of poetry and music based on the Passion Story; texts by Poe, Yeats, Muir, Rosetti, Cogswell, Auden, Swiss, Eliot, Ditsky, Donne, Brewster, Sitwell, Lochead, Gascoyne; Music by Satie, Peeters, Togni, Britten, Duruflé, Willan, Gregorian chant hymns, and improvisations.
Organist Christopher Dawes; French Horn Lisa Booth; Singers: Greg Carpenter, Susan Murley, Colleen Burns, Michael Dufault, the Choir of St. Paul’s Church; Reader: Trish York

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (St. James’ Cathedral Toronto, First Night Toronto 1993), toured with
”Peter and the Wolf to Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston and Belleville, Nov. 1994)

An adaptation of the 14th century New Year's Tale of chivalry and sport in King Arthur's Court for narration, organ repertoire of Susato, Ireland, Bach, Gibbs and Vierne, with improvisations.
Organist Christopher Dawes; Reader Trish York

Phantasmata Sancti Pauli (St. Paul’s Church, Toronto, ArtsWeek 1992)
A dramatically-lit midnight recital of poetry and organ music; texts by Yeats, Pond, Dickens, Larkin, Nash, Poe, Frost, Auden, Wordsworth; Music by Bach, Langlais, Robertson, Thalben-Ball, Yon, Messiaen, Elgar and Boellmann.
Organists Christopher Dawes, Eric Robertson; Readers Trish York, Michael Dufault