Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied

Island Voices welcomes new conductor

This spring will be a time of transition for Island Voices chamber choir.

The choir has been severely affected by COVID-19, but as founding member Jo-Anne Preston said, “we are alive and well and looking forward to a bright future.”

That future includes a new conductor, as Dr. John Hooper begins his tenure at the helm of the established choir.

When former musical director Jenn Forsland announced she was leaving, the choir knew it would be a challenge to find someone with such strong conducting skills and such passion for choral music.

“I was surprised at the quality of the candidates who applied,” said Preston. “we are so very pleased to welcome Dr. John Hooper into our choir community.”

Hooper comes to the Island via Edmonton, where his conducting career was centred at Concordia University. He conducted the concert choir and community chorus, and founded Sine Nomine, a choir composed of Concordia alumni. He taught many music courses, as well as administering the school of music.

Recently, Hooper conducted the chamber and concert choirs at King’s University – also in Edmonton. He has conducted international music exams for the London College of Music for many years, and has been a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator at international ensemble festivals such as the Singapore Youth Festival.

“[I am] passionate about developing chamber choirs, getting to know individual singers – as musicians and as people – and connecting them to each other and to those who listen to them,” said Hooper. “I envision a strong future for Island Voices, building off its solid foundations and the strong commitment of its singers.”

Hooper and the choir members are eager to begin working together, in whatever form health regulations allow. Possibilities for April include more of the popular VIP nights hosted at Coastal Black Winery, a video recording, or a mini-concert of some sort.

“When planning for the future in times of COVID-19, the key is definitely flexibility,” said Hooper. “We will do what we can this spring, and hopefully, we can all have a more normal singing experience in the fall. I’m already working on a program for late November!”

Hooper is also very keen to make musical connections and looks forward to future partnerships in the community. He can be contacted through Island Voices’ website (www.islandvoiceschamberchoir.bc.ca) or at islandvoiceschamberchoir@gmail.com

But it is not right to welcome the new without saying good-bye to the old. Since its founding by the late Frances Keen in 1997, Island Voices has been committed to “singing excellent music excellently.”

Forsland departs after leading the choir with energy, creativity, skill and patience for the last six and a half years,. Under her direction, the choir grew, both in size and in quality, and the choir will be eternally grateful.

“My tenure with the choir has been rich and rewarding,” she said. “I am grateful for our collective growth. A change in directorship marks the start of new opportunities for me and the choir. I am excited for the next chapter in the story of Island Voices and I look forward to hearing the choir sing with John as conductor. I continue to be a devoted fan and an avid supporter of the community and their beautiful music.”

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