The ensemble Sanctuary performs rich contemplative music that fuses the melodic simplicity of Gregorian chant with the sounds of free jazz and the rich colours of contemporary classical music, creating a plainsong for the 21st century. Their new album THE HEART HAS IT’S REASONS on Warner Classics expresses their unique approach.

The past five years have seen the core ensemble of bass-clarinettist Jeff Reilly, cellist Christoph Both and organist Peter Togni develop and refine a exquisite sound of immense dynamic and tonal range. Their many performances in St Mary’s Basilica in Halifax, Canada attract hundreds of listeners each month, and it is clear that the soaring, rich acoustics of the church have contributed massively to the ensemble’s characteristic sound.

The members of Sanctuary are dedicated to live performance and the trio re-defines accepted traditions of presentation. A Sanctuary concert is a unique contemplative experience, more of a personal sonic journey than any form of conventional concert.

Sanctuary started in 1998 as an informal series of concerts at St. Mary’s Basilica in Halifax. Since then the three members have performed over 85 concerts playing in every type of music festival across Canada and Europe.

Sanctuary has performed with a wide range of choirs across Canada, Germany and Latvia. They have presented concerts with the world-renowned trombonist Alain Trudel, the Electro Acoustic percussionist Jerry Granelli and the Evergreen Club contemporary gamelan orchestra. In 2003 the ensemble formed its own string orchestra, which now performs regularly in the Halifax concerts.

Great emphasis has always been placed on creating new works from within the trio and commissioning works for its extended collaborations. Over the past five years the group has created or commissioned over 25 new works. In a time where the classical music world has become saturated with unoriginal ‘cross-over’ recordings, Sanctuary’s work is more than just a breath of fresh air. In terms of both concept and execution it is unprecedented.



Release date: September 11, 2015

Responsio was released by the Canadian label ATMA Classique in September, 2015.It was nominated for a 2016 Juno award (Canada’s version of the Grammys).
The sound-world of Peter-Anthony Togni’s Responsio is completely unique. The great 14th century masterpiece Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut created in the 14th century is completely enveloped in the 21st century sound of a composer emerging as one of Canada’s greats. A perfectly-integrated quartet of great solo voices – Suzie LeBlanc, Andrea Ludwig, Charles Daniels and John Potter – is likewise surrounded by the amazing sounds that emerge from Jeff Reilly’s bass clarinet. Here’s an instrument that we didn’t know we were missing! Reilly, by the way, doubles as producer on the disc, and nails the technical aspects of the recording while doing exactly the same musically. (Dean Frey)

Sanctuary - Responsio

The heart has its reasons

Label: Warner Classics
Release date: January 01, 2005

Sanctuary - The heart has its reasons


Label: hanssler
Release date: January 01, 2003

Sanctuary - Refuge