The Queen’s Jubilee Concert at St. Mark’s Anglican Church on June 4 is a thank you for the monarch’s 70 years of service, says the musical mastermind of the performance, Michael Tansley.
A self-celebrated monarchist, Tansley comes by his enthusiasm honestly. He’s been singing, composing, conducting or arranging for almost 70 of his 78 years.
Tansley hails from the “lovely old market town” of Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, U.K., 60 kilometres north of London.
His father was the London manager of a major national shoe company. His mother, a housewife.
From a young age he sang in the choir of his local parish church and by the age of 10, he had earned a scholarship to the Hereford Cathedral for school and music.
He never looked back.
“By the time I left the cathedral, I knew music would be a part of my life.”
He attended three different music colleges, each nurturing different aspects of his music.
Along the way, he discovered teaching as a way to give back.
In 1972, he immigrated to Canada, becoming the music director at Ridley College in St. Catharines. He later took on similar roles in other Ontario secondary schools.
In 2010, he came to St. Mark’s Anglican Church, in Niagara-on-the-Lake — his “retirement job.” He remained at St. Mark’s for nine years.
On that basis, leading the Newark Singers is his retirement, retirement job.
Tansley’s eyes light up when the conversation turns to the repertoire for the Jubilee concert.
“With all (the monarchy’s) failings, let’s focus on the fact that this is unique,” says Tansley, founder and music director of the Newark Singers, the concert presenter.
“That a monarch has been on the throne for 70 years is certainly worthy of our commemoration.”
“We’re starting with a piece that was specially commissioned for the celebration. I bet we are the only ones doing it in North America. It is very approachable.’
Next are four Coronation Anthems by Handel. “The works have been performed in Westminster Abbey going back to the early 18th century.”
A concert orchestra comprised of both Niagara and Toronto musicians will support the choir.
Along the way, the concert will be punctuated by poetry “of royal substance” read by Donna Belleville and Jamie Mainprize, both well-known former actors.
The concert will end with a special musical salute arranged by Tansley.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $20. They can only be purchased in-person in the St. Mark’s church office or at the door.
Masks are required. Proceeds from the concert will support St. Mark’s. For more information, call 905-468-3123.