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Prepared to premiere

[Kento Stratford]
Kento Stratford’s choir and piano arrangement of a hymn originally created by former professor Bill Barnes for Queen’s sesquicentennial in 1991, will premiere Friday at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (University Communications)

This Friday night, Kento Stratford, a second-year music student, will see a major project performed for the first time on the stage of the concert hall at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

As the opening number of the Dan School of Drama and Music’s year-end choir and orchestra concert, Mr. Stratford’s choir and piano arrangement of a hymn that was originally created by former professor Bill Barnes for Queen’s sesquicentennial in 1991 will be premiered.

The piece has five verses and will be performed by a 120-person choir. It was a massive undertaking, says Mr. Stratford. But now, after five months of hard, detailed work, he’s ready to see his creation come to life.

“Hearing it in the Isabel recital hall… the acoustics are so good,” Mr. Stratford says. “Just having my piece played, it’s something I’ve dreamt about, actually. I’m definitely excited to hear it in person.”

The opportunity arose from a meeting with music professor and award-winning composer John Burge to discuss one of Mr. Stratford’s composition assignments. At the end of the meeting Dr. Burge asked Mr. Stratford if he was interested in arranging the sesquicentennial piece as part of the continuing celebrations of Queen’s 175th anniversary.

“It was a ‘in the right place at the right time’ sort of thing,” Mr. Stratford explains. “I said yes, it’s such a great opportunity. Where else would you get that opportunity?”

Through the work Mr. Stratford has gained valuable compositional experience, which will help him as he continues his studies and into his future career.

“Kento has produced a marvelous piece that added greatly to the original words and music,” says Dr. Burge. “Kento possesses a very clear understanding of harmony and counterpoint and this experience has given him a firm foundation upon which to build as he develops his own compositional craft and creativity. Full credit and thanks also goes to Darrell Bryan, conductor of the Queen’s Choral Ensemble, for his support in bringing everything together.”

The Queen's Symphony Orchestra and Choral Ensemble’s year-end concert, featuring Carl Jenkins' The Armed Man, is being held at the Isabel on Friday, March 24 at 7:30 pm. Tickets$15 adults; $7 students/seniors – are available online, by phone at 613-533-2424, or at the door.