Composer/arranger/lyricist Joanna Estelle presents EMERGENCE: a compilation of works produced under her personal philosophy that “quality music uplifts humankind.” The album includes a generous list of collaborators: John Gordon Armstrong (arranger), Laurence Ewashko (baritone), Morgan Strickland, Susan Elizabeth Brown and Laura Dziubaniuk (soprano), Brandon Wilkie and Roland Gjernes (cello), Frédéric Lacroix (piano), and two choral ensembles, Ewashko Singers and Capital Chamber Choir.
The opening work is “Umori” [Moods], ten character pieces for piano soloist, musical superlatives describing ten familiar dispositions of the human condition: Ardent, Determined, Energetic, Whimsical, Shimmery, Repentant, Reflective, Wistful, Solemn, and Hopeful. Compositionally, the overarching style is one of charismatic sentiment, accented by the bright timbre of Lacroix’s piano. The work is altogether lovely and a wonderful introduction to “Susannah’s Lullaby (This is a Face of Love),” and “Language of a Rose,” the first two art songs included on the album.
“Moyi mamij” [For My Mother] is an exquisite quartet that brings a tear to the eye of anyone who has ever felt a mother’s love. In that sentiment, let’s hope that Princes William and Harry will have the opportunity to hear Estelle’s “Qu’est-ce que c’est la vie? [What is life?]” an extraordinary hommage to “The People’s Princess,” for which Estelle wrote not only the music, but the French text. In “Abwoon d’bwashmaya” [Aramaic Lord’s Prayer], Estelle’s writing is reverent and prayerful — blending perfectly the melodic sonorities of the soprano voice and the cello.
Estelle showcases her choral writing with the inclusion of four works: “Water Canticle (For Margaret Trudeau),” “La chanson de ton coeur” [The Song of Your Heart], “Child of the Manger,” and “Song for Abwoon.” Estelle, who once put music aside to appease her parents by studying psychology and accounting instead, is now a well respected composer in Canada. She relates, “When you see people around the world are listening to and loving your songs, you know composing is something you should take seriously.”