The prairies are alive with the sound of music and it never sounded more wonderful than at the 40th Anniversary concert of Manitoba Sings!
Six hundred voices performed a musical history of Manitoba at the Centennial Concert Hall, Nov. 6, 2016.
Manitoba Choral Association Inc. President and Margaret’s Choir Conductor, Nathan Poole, who worked for two years with the planning committee on this extravaganza, set the stage for the 14 choirs. And what an evening it was.
The evening began with an honouring of Treaty Land with drumming by The North End Women’s Centre’s Buffalo Gals.
Gimli writer Muriel Smith’s narrative of the history of choral heritage in Manitoba blended well with the cinematic backdrop of choirs. The audience was transported back in time with clips of prairie settlers and CBC’s Hymn Sing.
Early days of employment in Flin Flon meant one was hired for one’s singing ability first and mining skills second. The audience was treated to a recording of the Flin Flon Community Choir singing at New York’s Lincoln Centre.
French and Ukrainian traditions were sung by Les Intrepides and the O. Koshetz Choirs respectively.
The Sawatsky Sisters celebrated the joys of families who sing together and led an audience sing-a-long of Pete Seeger’s “This Land is Your Land”.
Francophone 2016 Artist of the Year, Jocelyn Baribeau joined the Manitoba Youth Choir under the direction of Carolyn Boyes earning thunderous applause.
As always, the “Phil” was excellent with Yuri Katz conducting the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir.
Canadian Mennonite University with Janet Brennerman and Westgate Mennonite Collegiate Concert Choir under the direction of Vic Pankratz joined forces in beautiful harmony.
Celebrating variety in singing sans instruments was Inuit Throat Singer, Nikki Komaksiutiksak and acapella Those Guys. They each blew the audience away with their unique vocal style.
The gala ended with Elroy Friesen conducting a massed choir of 600 in Hope for Resolution.
Choral Fest was launched in 1987 and by 2016 there were 165 choirs with 9000 singers taking part. Manitoba has rightfully been dubbed ‘the singing province’.
What led this reviewer/reporter to choose this particular event to cover you ask?
Two reasons: a non-audition community choir called Margaret’s Choir comprised of 202 voices, many who believed or were told they could not sing and a book by Stacy Horn entitled “Imperfect Harmony, Finding Happiness Singing with Others”.
Not only did I find happiness singing with others, Margaret’s Choir meets my other criteria, namely giving back. Manitoba Sings! 40th was a fundraiser for choral music in this province.
The next fundraiser for Margaret’s Choir is a benefit for Little Stars PLAYhouse, an inner city resource and safe place for families with kids newborn to five years.The talented President and Conductor whose opening remarks at Manitoba Sings! heralded a love for singing will be the same conductor 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Jubilee Place. Once again Nathan Poole will inspire another sold out audience to the magic of singing together.