Island Voices spring concerts showcase some new voices

Since 1997, Island Voices Choir has been on a quest – a quest for excellence. Founded by the late Frances Keen, the choir’s mission statement has been “to sing excellent music excellently.”

This year’s spring concerts – happening tonight and tomorrow (April 15 and 16), will definitely demonstrate the choir’s progress – with new singers, new and challenging music, and a renewed and more polished choral sound. Conductor Jenn Forsland describes the choir as “an evolving ensemble still rooted in its fundamental pursuits of excellence in choral art.”

This year the choir added five new members to its family, adding youth, energy and a breadth of experience.

Added to the women’s sections are two well-known vocal teachers and conductors. Many locals will recognize soprano Carol Anne Parkinson from solo work with CYMC and the North Island Choral Society, as director of the Nova Voce Choral Society, and through Kindermusik, which provides a strong musical start for children newborn to age seven.

Alto Rosemary Lindsay, who drives up from Qualicum each week, was fortunate enough to cut her choral teeth in Vancouver’s highly celebrated Phoenix Chamber Choir. She also sang with the Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the premier women’s choir, Elektra. Since moving to Vancouver Island, her perspective has been from the podium, directing small and large choirs, but she is thrilled to be once again singing.

And the men’s section has added three talented new members.

Jason Lee, an avid musician, joins the choir after recently moving from Calgary to Campbell River.

Adding some youthful exuberance to the tenor section, Vanier grad Josh Tucker started singing halfway through Grade 11 and found himself loving it. A student at North Island College, Josh also sings with Celebration Singers and Vocal Minority.

But it is always the bass section which is the foundation of a choir’s sound. Singing those pure low notes is new bass Kurt Reimer. Although he started with piano and trumpet, “singing is what I loved more than instrumental music,” he says. He sang with a men’s barbershop chorus in Kentville, NS and a maritime champion quartet called Seventh Wave. Kurt brought his family to Comox in 2010, but it wasn’t until five years later, after watching his son perform with Cantiamo, that he was moved to find a choir for himself.

But though there have been quite a few new members in recent years, Island Voices is still sticking to the roots created by Frances Keen. After nineteen years, there are still eight founding members in the choir. The cohesive nature of the group, the commitment to hard work, to learning, and to supporting each other has kept these experienced musicians returning year after year.

After a very moving and successful Remembrance Day program, Island Voices began working on their current repertoire in November.

“Our Flight Begins as Song” features songs about music and songs linked to flight – birds, angels, wind and clouds, and includes the Canadian premier of John Conohan’s “Of Men and Angels.”

Performances are on Friday, April 15 at Comox United Church (with the Village Voices from Qualicum), and on Saturday, April 16 at Campbell River’s Maritime Heritage Centre.

Both concerts begin at 7:30 and tickets cost $20 (students accompanied by an adult free). For further info contact jo-anne.preston@shaw.ca.