TTBB, Boys Choir, Cello, Organ, Powertools
Of all the things I’ve written and performed, the Powertool Concerto is probably the one thing that was the most fun to build, to rehearse and perform. Because of the size and scope of the piece, it will probably never be performed again! There is a lot I could write about this piece, I’ll try to keep my comments brief. If you would like more information about the piece, please contact me.
The Powertool Concerto (Operarii Aedificatores Sumus) celebrates the construction industry which builds all the things and places that our society uses daily. It was written for the inaugural concert of Esquire Alberta Mens Chorus. My friend and colleague Roland Majeau wrote the song “Construction Worker” which is the backbone for all the text (latin and english), and Roland’s song is the closing movement of this piece. My gratitude and thanks go to Dr David Dahl who used Roland’s lyrics to write the latin poetic translation. The whole piece has seven movements: 1 Safety Meeting, 2 Compressor, 3 Pneumatics, 4 Coffee Break, 5 Number Two, 6 Variable Speeds, 7 Construction Worker.
Although the score is written with specific performance instructions, much of the performance can be tailored to suit the available space, tools, and performers. For example, the Grande Prairie Boys Choir (Jeannie Pernal, Artistic Director) and all their dads performed the piece (the photos are from this performance). All of the musical components remained true to the score, but many of the powertools were different, and the sheer number and size of the tools and machinery available to all the dads was remarkable, astounding and downright entertaining for two sold-out concerts.
I have come to learn that grown men and powertools are a necessary combination for a happy life. And even though we appear to be all grown up, when we get powertools in our hands we still behave like 12-yr-olds playing with toys. I have two favourite 12-yr-old spots in this piece.
First, Movement 5 which is called “Number Two” is of course the trip to the job site port-a-potty or Portable Chemical Toilet; there is no singing in this movement, but there is “music” and a LOT of laughter from the audience.
Second, the Organ and Chainsaw duet from Movement 6 from the performance in Edmonton at the Winspear Centre for Music. Dr Joachim Segger played the Davis Concert Organ from the stage console, and Mark Schultz (local radio host and musician) played the Chainsaw. At the climax of the duet, Mark held the chainsaw with full throttle high above his head and the two-stroke exhaust created a wonderful rainbow of colour in the brilliant stage lighting.
The recording here is from the Esquire concert at the Edmonton Winspear Centre for Music. This piece would be best represented in video because movements 4 and 5 are mostly dramatic elements, and many other moments are true performance moments and can’t be captured and represented by audio alone. So you can listen to the audience laughing and wonder what is going on…
There were too many well-known musicians and celebrities involved to list here, but the key players were Dr Joachim Segger (organ), Martin Johann Kloppers (cello) and Roland Majeau (guitar and soloist).