Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Weekend Away and the Choristers Will Play

Arrival into Vancouver
There is a real sense of pride and excitement when one is about to share something important with new communities. It is not the type of pride riddled with hubris and superiority, but rather, a feeling of accomplished satisfaction in the work that we have done and an enthusiasm to share that with others. The works that we took on tour each had an important role in our season this year as well as favorites from the past.

Photo by Jordan van Biert prior to the Vancouver concert

We were able to share Cy Giacomin's "Our Father" after our premiere of the work in February, Matthew Whittal's "Cradle Song" and Raimundo Gonzalez's "My Soul," all of which have not been performed in Vancouver or Yellowknife. Haraldur's Sveinbjörnsson's "Memento Mei" is a pretty bold opener and Ugis Praulins' "Laudibus in Sanctis" is quickly becoming an encore piece for us once our Soundstreams performance of it in February 2014 solidified it in our repertoire. It was also fun to showcase some pop tunes like Stand By Me and All About that Bass by the men in PCC, which they performed at their male concert this year.

Sunshine at Ryerson United
It is also comforting to pick up where we left off in terms of singer camaraderie from our tour last year in Ottawa and Halifax. It's nice to understand the social flow of members in the group so if you need some personal time to explore or you have no plans but just want to hang out with people there are always options. We had a Facebook group where we could post up-to-date information about venue locations and airport shuttle departure times; there were also posts on sushi reservations where people could dib open seats and photos people snapped during a post-concert reception. There is a sense from all the choristers that Pro Coro is more than just a job. The singers treat it as a priority in their lives, go to great lengths to make it work within their regular work schedules, and we genuinely love singing together. It is a sentiment I heard from audience members who remember Pro Coro from the past and noted that our renewed optimism is palpable.

One of the things that makes these tours special is the welcoming from the local communities that we receive. The Vancouver Chamber Choir hosted us at Ryerson United Church. VCC and General Manager, Steven Bélanger, was there to greet us with hugs prior to setting up the stage that evening at the church. Scanning the faces in the audiences it was amazing to see choral faces from The Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Cantata Singers, Cor Flammae, Stellaria Voices, and and Vancouver-based choral composers like Kristopher Fulton, David Archer, and Chris Sivak there supporting us. It is also great to read posts such as this one by Sivak on his thoughts from the audience. Not to mention we had one of the most amazing post-concerts receptions I have and may ever attend in my life at a gorgeous Vancouver home complete with an outdoor patio and swimming pool.
Vancouver reception with Missy, Michael, Ed, Kris, Krista (L-R)

Arrival in Yellowknife

Flying into Yellowknife was stunning when seeing the melting network of fine water capillaries through the sheets of ice from Great Slave Lake. A few minutes would pass and I saw glistening green-blue pools of pools dotting the rocky, tundra landscape. Upon arrival at our hotel, Yellowknife Choral Society conductor, Margo Nightingale, was there to greet us all. She gave us welcome packages complete with tourism information and a lovely pin in the shape of a yellow knife. The hospitality didn't end there since a YCS singer, honked at a group of PCC singers walking and offered us a ride to the church, which we happily took. Following the afternoon of workshops, the YCS hosted us for an amazing potluck at a gorgeous home in the Niven Lake area. So many delicious dishes like quinoa salads, chana masala, and even moose meat cabbage rolls filled the table. It was lovely to chat with many of the choristers in such a comfortable and warm home atmosphere. Many of the PCC choristers were also taking turns in the luxurious massage chair to work out knots from the consecutive plane rides. Walking home from the reception along the Niven Lake trail was also lovely with sunlight still out at 10:30 PM. Sunday in Yellowknife was a great chance to explore some of Old Town Yellowknife and many of the PCC choristers presented workshops on music arrangement, male voices, choral intonation. I even presented about voice care education. The evening concert at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre was an intimate way to end the visit with our new friends from the YCS. Late night walks back to the hotel are memorable times, especially when the sky is only a royal blue at 11:30 PM and the choir can take up a street lane due to no road traffic.

Walking the line in Yellowknife

It was a quick weekend trip but it was filled with friends, music, and sights I won't soon forget. I can only anticipate what the 2015-16 season of Pro Coro will bring.

A visit to Elysian Coffee
Reunion with Krista in Vancouver!
All-you-can-eat sushi visit

6:15 AM shuttle departure for the Vancouver airport

Artistic Taxidermy

Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife

Yellowknife Choral Society snacks

Niven Lake Trail at 10:30 PM

Brunch attempt #1 at Wildcat Cafe

Successful Brunch #2 attempt at the Dancing Moose

Greetings from YCS at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre

Post-concert selfie in the sunshine at 10 PM

Time to break out in song at Boston Pizza in Yellowknife

Conductors, Michael and Margo

The night is young

Lookout point in Old Town in Yellowknife

Building art in Yellowknife

Peter, the post-concert chorister masseuse

Frame Lake View

Flags of the NWT

Law court building window art

Social media round-up from the weekend:

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