Whaling an aria of interest

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

International opera performer Matthew Ward is returning to his hometown Albany as artist-in-residence for the 40 Years Later celebration of the campaign that led to the end of whaling at the Cheyne Beach.

The main celebration is a music and drama show at the Vancouver Arts Centre led by the opera star.

It retells the story of how Albany progressed from a whale-hunting town to a whale-watching town.

Ward said he had been working closely with residents and organisations over the past year to find a subject worthy of such an event. “I can’t begin to tell you how inspirational this subject is to the creation of new music and theatre,” he said.

“Whales, of course, are known to communicate in a song-like manner and pods of whales have their own songs.”

Recently celebrating his 300th opera performance in the UK, he began his opera career with the Albany Light Opera and Theatre Co. and said it was exciting to combine local history with performing.

“We came across the 40th anniversary of the Save the Whale campaign of 1977 and along with Albany's historic whaling station decided it was worth bringing the story to life through music and drama.”

Ward will be joined by composer Jonathan Brain, the About FACE Youth Choir, members of the Albany Choral Society and locals on August 27 for the main show.

He will also be running workshops throughout the month and performing a concert at the whaling station’s Skeleton Shed on August 6 previewing the main event. Tickets to any of the anniversary celebrations are available at vpinitiative.com/ 40YearsLater or by contacting Vancouver Arts Centre.

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