Island Voices an ‘evolving ensemble’

New members blend well with solid foundation

Since 1997, Island Voices Choir has been on a quest – a quest for excellence. Founded by the late Frances Keen, the choir’s mission statement has been “to sing excellent music excellently.”

This year’s spring concerts on April 15 and 16, will demonstrate the choir’s progress – with new singers, new and challenging music, and a renewed and more polished choral sound. Conductor Jenn Forsland describes the choir as “an evolving ensemble still rooted in its fundamental pursuits of excellence in choral art.”

Five new members

This year the choir added five new members to its family, adding youth, energy and a breadth of experience.

Added to the women’s sections are two well-known vocal teachers and conductors. Many local people will recognize soprano Carol Anne Parkinson from solo work with CYMC and the North Island Choral Society, as director of the Nova Voce Choral Society, and through Kindermusik, which provides a strong musical start for children newborn to age seven.

She has cherished choral memories as part of the award-winning Capilano College Singers, and has recorded two CDs with the Vancouver Cantata Singers.

Alto Rosemary Lindsay, who drives up from Qualicum each week, was fortunate enough to cut her choral teeth in Vancouver’s highly celebrated Phoenix Chamber Choir. While in the big smoke she also sang with the Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the premier women’s choir, Elektra. Since moving to Vancouver Island, her perspective has been from the podium, directing small and large choirs, and Rosemary is thrilled to be once again singing, under Jenn Forsland’s superlative direction, in the Island Voices.

And to outdo the women, the men’s section has added three talented new members. Who would have thought that this fine choir would have six true tenors in its ranks!

Jason Lee, an avid musician, joins us after recently moving from Calgary to Campbell River. Adding some youthful exuberance to the tenor section, Vanier grad Josh Tucker started singing halfway through Grade 11 and found himself loving it. A student at North Island College, Josh also sings with Celebration Singers and Vocal Minority.

But it is always the bass section which is the foundation of a choir’s sound. Singing those pure low notes is new bass Kurt Reimer. Although he started with piano and trumpet, Kurt says “singing is what I loved more than instrumental music.”

He sang with a men’s barbershop chorus in Kentville, N.S. and a maritime champion quartet called Seventh Wave. Kurt brought his family to Comox in 2010, but it wasn’t until five years later, after watching his son perform with Cantiamo, that he was moved to find a choir for himself.

“I’d heard that Island Voices was terrific – I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this special choir family,”, he says.

Solid foundation

Though there have been quite a few new members in recent years, Island Voices is still sticking to the roots created by Frances Keen.

After 19 years, there are still eight founding members in the choir. The cohesive nature of the group, the commitment to hard work, to learning, and to supporting each other has kept these experienced musicians returning year after year.

“All those years ago, our group decided to create a regional choir, one where we would be continually challenged, where we would be working to create music of high quality and  would be singing with depth and conviction,” said Jo-Anne Preston, one of the founding members. “With Jenn’s commitment to excellence, we are closer than ever to achieving our goals.”

After a very moving and successful Remembrance Day program, Island Voices began working on their current repertoire in November.

Our Flight Begins as Song features songs about music and songs linked to flight – birds, angels, wind and clouds, and includes the Canadian premier of John Conohan’s Of Men and Angels.

Performances are on Friday, April 15 at Comox United Church (with the Village Voices from Qualicum), and on Saturday, April 16 at Campbell River’s Maritime Heritage Centre.

Both concerts begin at 7:30; tickets $20 (students accompanied by an adult free). For further info contact Jo-Anne at: preston@shaw.ca

 

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