KW and Beyond
by Irena Wandschneider
Millennium Concert Choir – A Gift of Music
On June 6th the Kitchener/Waterloo community had the special pleasure of a concert presentation by the Millennium and Concordia (Mixed and Male) Choirs, and the Children’s and Youth Choirs – all conducted by Alfred Kunz - with the addition of the Celtic Dancers.
Dr. Kunz is a well-known and highly accomplished conductor, contributing immensely to the musical culture in our region. To this date, he conducts a number of Regional Choirs such as the Concordia Choirs, Nith Valley Singers, Music Alive and of course the combined Millennium Concert Choir. A recognized composer, director and conductor, he has founded a great number of choirs here and elsewhere in Canada and is recognized not only in Canada, but throughout the Choral World. But more about that later.
The Concordia Club Choir sang compositions by Johann Strauss Jr. like the Blue Danube Waltz, Trisch Tratsch Polka and Croatian Folk Songs. Their program was rounded off by a lively engaging chardash Die Juliska. The Millennium Choir sang spirituals and completed part one of the programme by singing Amazing Grace together with Concordia Choir.
After intermission it was primarily an Irish theme. The Choir as well as Dr. Kunz were clothed with classic Celtic insignias and offered a premiere of Alfred Kunz’s composition Substance and Shadow commissioned by Dr. Valentine O’Donovan. Later they sang popular melodies like Riversong known from the movie The Working Girl and a variety of songs of peace - very timely in our troubled times. The Children Millennium group was especially heart warming; The Youth Choir was lively and engaging. The team of 6 Celtic dancers, young females dressed in handmade original Irish costumes brought about very enthusiastic applause. It is a rare joy to see such costumes and such dancing.
It was an exhilarating experience to be among an appreciative audience, which thoroughly enjoyed the masterful choir performances, all conducted by our very own dedicated Choir Master – Alfred Kunz.
As we all know, Alfred Kunz has been instrumental in developing the choral culture in and around our region. Less widely known perhaps is that he was awarded the Black Belt in Kung Fu in 1988, actually taught self-defence classes, and that the University of Waterloo honoured him with an Honorary Doctorate of Law in 2001!
Born in 1929 in Saskatchewan, he settled in Kitchener, interrupting his residency here for 6 years by attending the Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1949 to 1955. Immediately after his return, he began the process he has pursued ever since. Organizing and founding choirs everywhere he could find singers.
He joined the Concordia Choir as a Singer in 1962 and accepted the position as Conductor in 1968, when the choir was in its 95th year. Meanwhile he was also a Composer in Residence on the Isle of Sylt, and received his "Staats-Examen" in Choral Conducting at the University of Mainz in Germany. And he accepted a position as Part Time Director of Music at the University of Waterloo in 1965, which turned into a full time position from 1969 to 1979.
In 1973 he conducted the Concordia Choir as part of the Welcome for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip He joined the Building Committee for the Design of Kitchener’s Centre-in-the-Square and composed the music, coordinated and directed 500 singers and orchestra for "Opening Night-Preview Week" in 1980. And in 1988 he conducted the Concordia Choirs for the visiting Helmut Kohl, then Chancellor of Germany.
All the while, he was commissioned to compose, coordinated and conducted and took choirs on tour. This activity took him right around the globe, to Australia, Russia, Austria, Germany, England, Scotland and Wales, the US and across Canada of course. Presenting his own compositions. He performed on Network and local TV and actively pursued fund-raising for any good cause to this date. At 74 he is as active as always, even has his own website at www.kunzmusic.ca/. And continues to motivate his choirs to sing with conviction and from the bottom of their hearts.
As they did again in the "Gift of Music".
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