Harrison Happenings: Singing in the rain led to choir
It was the year 1997 when the Harrison Hot Springs Multicultural singers were brought to life during a hiking holiday in Whistler.
It was raining during the entire duration of the trip and the hikers felt miserable. The trails up on the mountains where we wanted to hike were closed and we decided to take a walk in the valley. To cheer us up, some of the hikers started to sing.
It sounded very nice and I had the idea that something should be done with this dormant talent.
Back in Harrison we promptly organized a sing-along at the Memorial Hall with coffee and refreshments. We also invited Corine de Groot, a very talented singer who had been entertaining during the Eurofest we had organized shortly before. But, when I asked the potential singers to come to the stage, they hesitated. Corine, however, just started to sing and slowly we all joined in. It was the beginning of four years of singing and learning and we had lots of fun. After a while we even dared to sing in public, during "Much Music" in Chilliwack, for instance, or at Minter Gardens during summertime.
After four years, however, some of us wanted to get-together on a weekly basis and learn more. Luckily, we found Brenda Di Rezzi and Beccie Bockenfohr, two music teachers who believed that we had what it takes to become a choir — the Harrison Hot Springs Multicultural Choir to be precise! We sang with school children and for seniors, participated in the Agassiz caroling festivals as well as in several Benefit Concerts at the Vancouver German Club and, of course, gave annual concerts in our own community. Last year we were asked by the B.C.Choral Association to host the 2011 Seniors' Chorfest and I am still in awe at us. After all, not only did we sing by ourselves — as did all choirs — we also took part in two days of seminars which resulted in a mass choir performance directed by Bruce Pullan and accompanied by equally well known Doug Balfour. The highlight of this concert was the world premier of the song Silver, composed by Jon Washburn.
We have come a long way, especially when considering how it all started. So, here we are 15 years later. Over time, many of the original members have left due to various medical conditions, age or other reasons. Surprisingly though, some of the first members are still with us. However, many voices are needed to produce a full sound and we hope that more new people will join us to fill the ranks in the future.
The HHS Multicultural Choir is open to all who like to sing and learn. The current membership fee is $90 a year - $50 for the spring season and $40 for the shorter fall season. A reasonable committment towards the choir is expected. All members in good standing are eligible for election to the choir executive by a simple majority. Our artistic executives are appointed, not elected. The next General Annual Meeting will take place this coming September. And, as I often mentioned before, singing is an excellent exercise, a kind of yoga for the voice and the breathing system.
Have I mentioned that it is also fun to learn with Brenda and Beccie? And, at the end of a season when everything falls into place and we are ready for a concert, it is quite exciting!
We have just started to prepare for this year's Spring Concert, a good time to join!
To read Ruth's previous column, click here.