Music at Sharon

Music at Sharon. Annual summer concert series at the Temple of the Children of Peace at Sharon, near Newmarket, Ontario, presented 1981-90 under the auspices of the York Pioneer and Historical Society.

Music at Sharon

Music at Sharon. Annual summer concert series at the Temple of the Children of Peace at Sharon, near Newmarket, Ontario, presented 1981-90 under the auspices of the York Pioneer and Historical Society. The series was founded in 1981 by Lawrence Cherney, artistic director, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Temple, owned by the society since 1915. The Temple was an especially appropriate venue because of its strong musical tradition in the period (ca 1830-86) when David Willson and his utopian farm community of Davidites or 'Children of Peace' were active. The 1991 concerts, sponsored by the newly incorporated Musical Heritage Society of Sharon, were held at the nearby Sharon-Hope United Church, Newmarket.

During the first nine seasons, the miscellaneous concert offerings always included one or two 'heritage programs' designed to recall the repertoire and performing habits of the Children of Peace. These programs were usually researched and arranged by John Beckwith (by David Passmore in 1987; by Beckwith and Passmore in 1989). The festival committee has been chaired by Edwin J. Hunt since its inception and in the first two years included Geoffrey Payzant, who also restored the Temple's historic barrel organ.

The concerts grew in number from five in the inaugural season to fourteen in 1989, and covered a wide range of repertoire, usually tied together by program themes, eg, 'Jenny Lind and Friends' (1983), 'Don Juan and Don Quixote' (1986), an all-Schoenberg program (1988), and 'The Haydn Brothers' (1988). Much Canadian music was performed, both old and new: in 1981 Beckwith's Three Motets on Swan's 'China, ' in 1982 excerpts of tenor Canadian operettas written between 1880 and 1912, and in 1989 eight pieces from Beckwith's restoration of Quesnel'sLucas et Cécile. Music at Sharon commissioned new works by Beckwith, Phil Nimmons, Linda C. Smith, Carol Ann Weaver, Glen Buhr, Derek Holman, and many others. In 1990 the entire festival was given over to the production of Serinette, a commissioned opera by Harry Somers. Many well-known ensembles, choirs, and soloists from Canada and abroad have appeared at Sharon, including the Orford String Quartet, the English Brass Ensemble, I Musici de Montréal, the Amadeus Ensemble, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, Nexus, Tafelmusik, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Tudor Singers, Aldo Ciccolini, Norbert Kraft, William Aide, Joel Quarrington, and James Campbell.

A commemorative album, Music at Sharon, featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers and an instrumental ensemble directed by John Beckwith, was issued to mark the occasion of the first festival (1982, Melbourne SMLP-4041/RCI 554).


Further Reading

  • Beckwith, John. 'Canadiana realizations for "Music at Sharon," 1981-90,' News from the CMHS, vol 1, Spring 1991

    Citron, Paula. 'Sharon Temple parting was not sweet,' Toronto Star, 11 Jul 1991