Massed choir delights despite move
By Sue Tiffin
Published May 16, 2017
Organizing a massed choir of 150 people from three different towns was a monumental project, but moving that choir and 450 concert attendees the day of the event added to the exhilaration of planning for A Canadian Choral Celebration organizers.
The event was scheduled for May 9 at Archie Stouffer Elementary School, but due to flooding and road closures in Minden, it was announced the day before to be relocating to the high school in Haliburton.
“It was really a great undertaking doing that move,” said Beth Kipping, a member of the Canada 150 committee that organized the event. “We really had to hit the ground running on Monday at 2 o’clock, and we were nervous, when we got there, thinking, ‘are we going to see people or not?’”
Not only did people show up for the concert, but chairs were added to support additional guests when the high school’s gymnasium allowed for more space. Singers from the Highlands Festival Singers in Haliburton, the North Hastings Community Choir in Bancroft and the Community College Choir in Lindsay were able to come together in one place as planned.
“It was awesome, it was really awesome,” said Kipping.
The idea for the massed choir came about a few years ago, when members of the three choirs, all directed by Melissa Stephens, were discussing the possibility of joining together for a performance.
“Melissa started doing the math,” said Kipping, “and realized that there were about 150 members in total.”
Stephens then carefully researched and selected Canadian music and composers to create a list that would help choir members celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year. Besides works by Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot alongside traditional provincial songs, the concert featured a composition by Patricia Morehead, an oboe player in the Haliburton Symphony Orchestra.
“It really became a great addition,” said Kipping.
The choirs performed in Lindsay, Bancroft and Haliburton to an average audience of 440 people and Kipping said there might be potential for a similar concert in a few years.
“The choir really, really enjoyed it,” she said. “The number of hours of work that went into planning it was massive, but if everyone was willing to roll up their sleeves again, it might be something we look at.”