Building a Family

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I cannot believe that it’s been over a year since I’ve written on my blog, but I promise you, I have a very good reason. I’ve been busy.

Just before the 2014/15 season of the Coastal Sounds Community Choir, my wife (and fellow Artistic Director) and I decided that it was time to grow our little organization into one that could service the singing needs of more people. This included more permanent projects for different demographics, and building on our “occasional” projects so that people could take part in activities that didn’t require a night of their week all year round.

Thus, we evolved into the Coastal Sounds Choir Association.

One of the CSCA’s biggest benefits is its locality. The Town of Conception Bay South has a very strong artistic community (music, dance and visual art), helped along by a plethora of music schools, dance studios and other community-based programs. Considering it’s the second largest municipality in all of Newfoundland, it’s a great pleasure to offer musical activities to the local residents to save them the trouble of travelling to St. John’s or farther (even though St. John’s is only 20 minutes away, folks really love to stay in their town, hence all the schools and studios).

The plan was to build on the recent success of two new projects that were done in the past two years. The first is the Christmas Cantata Project, which premiered in 2013 with just my own singers from Coastal Sounds and Topsail United Church, and then was opened up to all interested singers the surrounding areas in 2014. We’re now on our third Cantata and it’s become one of the most popular parts of the musical year in CBS, for both concert-goers and singers. Singers enjoy the opportunity to take part in a “spread-out” rehearsal schedule (this year, over five Saturdays) because it can be difficult to commit to another weekly activity, especially for those who work long days or have young families. The Christmas Cantata Project has received such positive feedback that we intend to keep it an annual tradition for our Christmas concert.

The second is our Summer Music Program, which was originally organized by just Beth and I, but was rolled under the umbrella of the CSCA during the expansion. Over the past two Augusts, we have held an Adult Choir Camp for singers who wanted to receive an accelerated choral education but could also not commit all year long to a permanent choir. The program accepts singers of all musical backgrounds (like the Coastal Sounds Community Choir, our flagship project) and aims to just get people singing, to get them interested and show them just how much fun it can be. The Adult program continues to grow year after year and we hope that we can expand it to youth in 2016.

And finally, we created a second permanent project, the Aurora Women’s Choir. We held auditions for interested members in September 2014 and started with 19 singers. This year, we’re up to 28. Even though the choir’s only been together for just over a year, they’ve had wonderful growth in both capability and opportunity. Aurora won a Gold Standard at the 2015 St. John’s Rotary Music Festival and in July 2016, they have been invited to represent the province at the UNISONG Choral Festival in Ottawa. It’s awesome to think that we’re only getting started and the more repertoire research I do, the more excited I get about all the wonderful music there is for women’s choir. After working in Barbershop and men’s voices for a decade, it felt right to explore the other side of things as well.

We rebranded this year (a HUGE thank you to WaterWerks Communications for their hard work) and I invite you to our website to check it all out. One main focus for growth in 2016 is a new project called the Con Fuoco Youth Choir. This choir is intended to be a comprehensive choral education for young singers aged 12-18. Auditions will be scheduled soon so watch our website and Like our Facebook page to stay up to date.

It’s been an incredible year and I am overjoyed at the idea of getting more people involved in choral singing. It has obviously changed my life and will change yours, too. Come to our 2015 Annual Holiday Concert and see all the smiles for yourself.

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