During the last concert of the Harrison-Kent Community Singers (formerly the Multicultural Choir), I was asked how it all had started 18 years ago and I decided to tell you about it.
It was in the year 1997, when the HHS Recreation Commission’s Hiking Group was on a hiking holiday in Whistler, B.C. Unfortunately, the trip was rained out and the hikers felt miserable. The trails up on the mountain were closed and we took a walk in the valley. To cheer ourselves up some of us 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 cake. We also asked Corine de Groot, a very talented singer and pianist who had entertained us before, to help us get started. However, when she asked us – the potential singers – to come to the stage, we froze. Unperturbed, and without further delay, Corine started to play the piano and sing and slowly and timidly we all joined in. And, this was the beginning of eighteen years of singing, learning and fun!
Bi-weekly at first, but after a few years, we wanted to get together more often and since Corine did not have the time to accommodate this, she advised us to scout for somebody else. We took her advice and whom did we find? None other but Beccie Bokenfohr!
After, also, doing the job alone for a while, she introduced us to Brenda Di Rezze and, to our surprise, these two highly talented teachers believed that we had what it takes to become a choir and this is how the Harrison Hot Springs Multicultural Choir, which was later named The Harrison-Kent Community Singers, came to life. We sang with school children and for seniors, participated in the Agassiz Caroling Festivals, gave annual concerts in our own community and even ventured to Vancouver a few times to sing at the Concordia Choir’s annual Christmas Concert.
In the year 2011, we hosted the B.C. 2011 Seniors ChorFest. We took part in a two day choir seminar which resulted in a mass choir concert directed by Bruce Pullan, accompanied by the equally well-known pianist Doug Balfour. The highlight of this concert was the world premier of the song “Silver” composed by Vancouver’s John Washburn. It was then when we realized that we had come a long way!
Over time, however, many of the original members have left, some to move elsewhere, others due to medical conditions or for other reasons. And, while some of the original members are still with us, new members are not easy to find in a small community like ours. However, since many voices are needed to give a choir the desired full sound, it was decided to end the life of the choir with this last concert, especially since both Brenda and Beccie had the chance to repursue their own musical careers.
All endings, however, are also new beginnings, but only time will tell what the future will bring.
For now, however, I would like to thank Corine de Groot once more for giving us a head start, Brenda Di Rezze and Beccie Bokenfohr for believing in us, the former Harrison Recreation Commission and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs for their ongoing support and all choir members for their loyalty and work.
Life is all about choices but it is up to us to make the right ones. Good Luck to all of you!