Opus 8 ( Photo courtesy of the performers )

Opus 8 is a Toronto-based singing made up of eight like-minded opera singers. They’ve been around for almost ten years, and their repertoire includes pieces from the 14th through the current.

The singing consists of bass Martin Gomes and Bryan Martin, altos Veronika Anissimova and Rebecca Claborn, and soprano Katy Clark and Clara MacCallum Fraser.

Opus 8 just released their second song, titled Canadian Sacred Music. It’s a treasure trove of little known functions.

The items span the next 75 years of American divine choral composition. Some of the artists, like Eleanor Daley and James Rolfe, are known in the musical society, while Ramona Luengen, Violet Archer, and Tom Bell are perhaps less thus. Finding and putting up the arsenal is a significant component of the narrative.

We spoke with Tenor Robert Busiakiewicz, the choir’s musical director, about the innovative release.

Robert Busiakiewicz: The Exam

Robert Busiakiewicz attended King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, and he was invited to the 2013 Worshipful Company of Musicians Yeomanry. He earned his Masters in Song with a vocal fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge.

” Opus 8 is a chorus of 8 performers”, he explains. ” We were founded in 2015. I was the founding chairman”.

He describes it as a gathering of eight companions who had previously sung together and had known one another for years. ” We definitely wanted to push ourselves to the limits of our skills”, he says.

It is true that singing in various choirs can just result in performing the same repertoire in a different setting. ” We got tired of singing The Messiah”, he laughs.

In 2025 February, Opus 8 may be celebrating its 10th celebration as an organization. Looking up, you could say they’ve come a long way. Robert laughs,” I remember we paid our second recording engineer in beer.”

As he notes, with a chorus of only eight members, a strong team forms, and a great level of confidence. ” If one person is slightly under the wind, or one person needs to eat, we can experience it”, he says,” and adjust”.

Their main objective is to produce a lovely sound without having a bias toward generic sounds. ” Chamber songs can be very personal, very human”, he says. They wished to avoid a particular type of musical sound. ” It’s very human, it’s very real”.

Opus 8 ( Photo courtesy of the performers )

French Sacred Audio: The Arsenal

” There is a running design, in that these are all items that were unfairly neglected”, Robert says.

” It’s not the kind of thing that you can always pop into Google”, he says. ” I’m something of a song collector”. Every item, though, has to show itself related, and not just a curiosity. Does it really talk to today’s people?

Given Opus 8’s shared desire for music exploration, the choice of tunes was made via discovers or recommendations, rather than from the normal musical repertoire. It seemed healthy for us to do this type of work, they said.

Four pieces on the recording were composed by Derek Holman ( 1931- 2019 ). Before moving to Canada in the middle of the 1960s, Holly was an assistant musician at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and a king at Westminster Abbey Choir School. He immediately became part of the music group in Toronto, and worked with many institutions and parishes, including the Church of St. Simon the Apostle, which has preserved some of his works.

While however living in the UK, he wrote the antiphon Mary Is A Lady Bright in 1964 and Advent Responsory in 1996. Toronto ‘ s St. Thomas’s Anglican Church commissioned O Lord, Increase my Faith for the 25th celebration of John Tuttle as Organist and Choirmaster. The job comes to Opus 8 seriously, tone Jamie Tuttle is John’s boy, and he sang as a choirboy under Holman’s way.

On the May Day Carol, a conventional language, Jamie sings solo in An Old Song. For a Massey College vacation event, it’s a part of a longer piece called Homage to John Aubrey.
University of Toronto in 1975. Robertson Davies, the college’s mind, had commissioned it. After its second efficiency, the score, in written form, gathered dirt at Massey College.

After Davies, John Fraser became Master of Massey College in 1995. Fraser happens to be Robert Busiakiewicz’s dad- in- legislation, and that’s how he got his hands on the report.

” It took me some days of transcribing it”, Robert recalls. That was “one of the first bits I came across,” she said.

There are hundreds of manuscripts in a similar condition that need to be repaired, according to the breakthrough.

That’s what led him to Violet Archer. ” One that is important to me is a bit by Violet Archer“, he says of his search. ” She was known as’ Aggressive’ Archer to some reviewers”, he laughs. Violet Archer composed The Bell, a oratorio, in 1949, no long after she finishing her research with Paul Hindemith and Béla Bartók. The job, not surprisingly, is harmonic and contrapuntal.

He found her by perusing a catalogue of American composers, in search of people artists in particular. He was inspired by a CBC tracking of 1955. ” It was difficult, and quite honestly, form of unpleasant”, he says. He looked until he discovered a typewritten report, one riddled with mistakes.

” It took me about 15 hours to read it all out on program”, he says. But, as he suddenly heard it, he was struck by its charm. I wanted to celebrate that a lot.

Barrie Cabena ( b. 1891 ) was a composer to Robert. 1933 ) to ask about one of his pieces. Cabena used words from the publication of Isaiah to create his motet They That Delay Upon The Lord May Renew Their Strength. It’s portion of his Three Motets, which he composed for the Bach- Goethe Singers of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1976. Robert says Cabena, then 91, told him he has no memory of composing the part.

James Rolfe ( b. 1961 ) composed his piece Garden as a commission for Tafelmusik’s 30th anniversary celebration. Nevertheless, he was able to make it to the 2011 launch. His writing employs passages from the Song of Songs from the Bible, which has an sensually charged theme.

” The item is so charming, it sounds like Monteverdi with a current camera”, Robert notes. ” We’d not get away with doing it in church”.

Another runs include:

Stephanie Martin ( b. 1962 ) took the text from the Acts of the Apostles for her part Dum Complerentur, written for the choir of St. John Cantius, Chicago, in 2017.

Ramona Luengen ( b. 1960 ), earned her PhD form the University of Toronto, where she studied with Derek Holman, another composer whose work appears on the album. Luengen was commissioned by the CBC to create O Lacrimosa for Chanticleer, an prize- winning singing. Opus 8 has included the following activity, titled Nichts Als Ein Atemzug, which uses a word by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Tom Bell ( b. 1962 ), director of music at St. James Cathedral, set a poem by George Herbert, a favourite collaborator, to music in the work Sinnes Round. The item was one of the winners of the 2020 ORTUS fresh music competition.

Eleanor Daley ( b. 1955 ) is a well known and famous French vocal composers. She was the music director of the Toronto-based Official United Church in honor of the late French musical wire Elmer Iseler, who composed John Henry Newman’s poem, O Lord Support Us.

Jeff Enns ( b. 1972 ) is a native of Waterloo, Ontario. For The Elora Singers, he wrote the song” God Remain In My Brain.”

American Sacred Audio: The Album

Robert feels drawn to the work of people like the late Colman, who left beautiful compositions, but simply were n’t so great at self promotion in their time.

” In Canada we’re good at celebrating new skills, but not these kind of reputation musicians”, Robert says. I wanted to make them stand up.

The song was produced by David Fallis, and recorded in January of 2024 at Humbercrest United
Church in Toronto. See for an album release musical on September 27, 2024, in the meantime, you can talk to Canadian Sacred Audio by Opus 8 on Spotify]HERE].

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