Favourite Memory of being in the Vancouver Chamber Choir
Without a doubt, it was our extraordinary 2009 concert tour of Taiwan and Japan. We had the privilege of performing concerts in several locations on Honshu, and collaborating with local choirs. We were made to feel very welcome! And, of course, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, performing a private concert for the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a few of their guests. Despite being coached not to speak to the Emperor and Empress, the first thing they did at the end of the performance was to join us to chat! It was an incredible honour.
What is it about choral music that moves you the most?
Choral music is as much about community as it is about the actual rehearsing and performing. Canada’s choral community is extensive, and it’s heartwarming to know that anywhere you go – anywhere in the world, for that matter – choral music creates instant camaraderie, and a common goal, a common language. (I’ve been fortunate to have been a member of several professional ensembles in Montreal and Toronto, as well as my tenure with the Vancouver Chamber Choir!)
Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career as a singer?
The late, great, Patrick Wedd was the most influential conductor I’ve had the opportunity to work with. That was in Montreal, where I was a member of Tudor Singers of Montreal (as well as le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, and four other ensembles). Patrick felt there was no music that was too demanding not to tackle (although sometimes it was a close call!). In rehearsal, nothing escaped his ear – he expected near-perfection in the music we created, so we rose to that challenge. He also encouraged other skills within the ranks of the singers – once he found out that I had written some choral arrangements, it was not uncommon for him to hand me a tune, and say “I could use an arrangement of this… how about the day after tomorrow?”
What has kept you going/motivated throughout the pandemic artistically?
Listening, listening, listening. I love listening to numerous online programs, so I’m forever hearing music I’ve not encountered before. There’s always something that grabs my attention…
Any advice for aspiring singers?
To sing choral music at the highest level, it’s not enough to learn how to use your voice. To perform as an ensemble, especially a cappella, it’s crucial to understand at all times the harmonic structure of the piece, and where your own vocal part fits into that harmony. The result is incredible for the performer and the audience.