Diane Loomer – Away from the Rolling Sea

Diane Loomer (1940-2012) was a Canadian musician, conductor, and founder of the Elektra Women’s Choir.  She was born on July 31, 1940, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her parents were both music lovers, and her mother played the piano and sang in a choir. Manifesting an early aptitude for music, she began taking piano lessons at the age of six. Loomer continued to study music throughout her childhood and teenage years, and then attended Vancouver’s Magee Secondary School, where she was active in the school choir and studied piano and voice. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Gustavus Adolphus College, earning her Bachelor of Music degree in 1962.  She earned her Master of Music degree two years later from the University of Arizona.

After graduation, Loomer settled back in Canada.  She founded the Elektra Women’s Choir in 1987 with the goal of creating a choir that celebrated the distinct sound of women’s voices. The choir quickly gained recognition for their exceptional performances and recordings of choral music, particularly music by Canadian and female composers.  The Elektra Choir remains an inspiration for The Canticle Singers.

Under Loomer’s leadership, the Elektra Women’s Choir performed at numerous prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and the Vancouver Olympic Games. The choir has also released numerous recordings.

Loomer was an avid gardener and spent much of her free time tending to her garden at her home in Vancouver. She was also a passionate traveler and enjoyed exploring different cultures and music traditions around the world. Her travels often inspired her work as a composer and conductor. 

Loomer received numerous awards and accolades for her contributions to the arts, including the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia. She made frequent appearances on CBC national radio as a spokesperson for classical arts.   In 1990, she received the Healey Willan Award for her service to choral music in British Columbia, and in 2002, she received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for her contribution to Canadian culture.  Additionally, she was a key figure in the early success of Cypress music publications, which is now a thriving source of new Canadian music.  Diane Loomer passed away in 2012 at the age of 72, but her legacy lives on through the Elektra Women’s Choir and the countless musicians and music lovers she inspired throughout her career.

“Away from the Rolling Sea” is a traditional Newfoundland folk song that was arranged by Diane Loomer for the Elektra Women’s Choir.  Loomer’s beautifully haunting arrangement showcases the versatility of women’s voices.

The arrangement begins with sopranos singing the beginning of the first verse, accompanied by the piano.  The altos take the second phrase, and then the other voices gradually join in, building to a rich harmony that evokes the vast mysteriousness of the sea.

Throughout the arrangement, Loomer creates depth and emotion.  The voices rise and fall in waves, emulating the ebb and flow of the sea.  The dynamics shift from quietly introspective to boldly powerful, conveying the depth of emotions associated with life at sea.