Music on Union – Peace and Fair Pay in Troubled Times OR Opening the Path to Peace and Fair Pay

With the launch of its second season, Sounds of Peace, Music on Union is echoing poet Kahlil Gibran—"Music… opens the secret of life-bringing peace’.

At 12:10p.m. on August 12, 2022, long-time crowd-pleaser, vocalist Ralph Kuster, accompanied by pianist Tim Hallman, kicks off the season of eight, weekly, 40-minute concerts at St. James Anglican Church, 10 Union Street.

“Last year our series, Sounds of Hope, looked to our emergence from the bleakness of COVID.  Now war and social conflicts are hitting our headlines, so our goal this year is to help bring peace into the hearts, souls and daily living of our audiences,” said Michael Capon, Music Director at St. James’ Anglican Church.

In addition to harnessing the power of music for peace, the organizers are also intent on honouring Jesus’maxim that “the labourer is worthy of his hire”.

“It’s great that there are now more and more opportunities for musicians to perform,” commented Sue Moore, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of Professional Musicians AFM Local 518 (serving eastern Ontario). “Sadly, however, we’re seeing a disturbing trend where musicians are often being paid 50% of the going rate or performing with no commitment that they will be paid at all!”

In response to this, Music on Union is committed to being a venue where musicians will be fairly compensated. But it will take the generosity of audiences to achieve that goal. 

“We’re grateful to sponsors, Pita Pit, Olde Farm Fine Foods and the Union of Professional Musician,” observed Moore. “But we’re also introducing entrance by donation—inviting each attendee to pay what they can.” 

“This is definitely a risk”, Capon chimed in, “but with the calibre of artists we have lined up, the broad range of musical styles the series offers, and a community that welcomes and supports good music, we’re confident this approach will pay off for everyone.”

Capon and Moore were happy to be able to include vocal and wind performances in their eclectic 2022 line-up.

The first four concerts feature: Kuster’s extensive repertoire of Broadway hits, country music and crooner classics; jazz, baroque and contemporary clarinet pieces played by Carina Canonico and David Gazaille; the Bach to the Beatles repertoire of clarinet and cello trio Two Thirds Down Under; and the jazzy tones of singer Chantal Thompson. Thompson affirms the power of music to be a medium for peace. “Music is a spiritual consciousness that brings us together”, she said, “and I’m thrilled to be offering a gift of meditation for the listeners in a venue redolent with such beauty and history.”

Subsequent concerts showcase: Amber & Zebulun on cello and guitar performing the likes of Mancini, Bacharach and Cohen; traditional Iranian and contemporary pieces from santurist Sadaf Amini; and songs and dances for four hands performed by piano duo Peletsis-Dardykina.

“The final concert falls on Orange Shirt Day,” noted Capon, “and it is exciting that Lynn Brant, a Mohawk who sits with the Bear Clan, has agreed to perform some of her original compositions to close out our Sounds of Peace series.”  

Moore and Capon hope to repeat the success of the 2021 season. “We had lots of positive feedback from last year’s performers and audiences about the heightened acoustics and aesthetics of St. James,” said Moore. “With this venue and a strong program for the 2022 season we expect capacity audiences again this year.”

But the success of the series will not just be measured by audience size and acoustics.  “John Lennon encouraged us to “Imagine all the people living life in peace”, said Capon. “With Sounds of Peace we want attendees to leave each concert with their hearts and minds more at peace than when they arrived.  And we want to offer some peace to our performers too, honouring them with fair pay for all of the hard work they put into their craft.” 

Further information for the Sounds of Peace season, including a full roster of the eight concerts can be found at sstjameskingston.ca/concerts.