Village Voices Christmas Concert:
from Classical to Contemporary
article and photos by Grant Weaver, GuidingStar.ca
Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 7:30 p.m., the Village Voices present their
Christmas Concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 143 Main
Street North, Markham.
The program has
something for everyone. The choir will
perform, in Latin and with orchestral accompaniment, the Magnificat
of Johann Sebastian Bach. This segment will highlight
guest soloists, Elicia Clements soprano, Joy Klopp mezzo soprano,
Arunas Radtka tenor and Michael Thomas baritone.
The evening will also feature a wide range of Christmas music —
classical, traditional and contemporary.
Not only is the choir preparing for its own concert on December 1,
Village Voices will also be the guest choir at the Christmas concert
of the Markham Concert Band the following afternoon (Dec. 2), at
3.p.m., at Markham Theatre For Performing Arts.
(Nov. 21) the Village Voices had a double treat in store for the
residents of Sunrise Senior Living in Unionville. The choir
performed a mini-concert in the lobby and many residents came down
to enjoy the blend of familiar and newer songs and to participate in
a sing along. Conductor Joan Andrews, with energy and humour,
and with the accompaniment of pianist Gerald Loo, put
her singers through a program of spine tingling harmonisations and
touching solos that was much appreciated by the audience.
The choir then remained at the centre to rehearse and invited
Sunrise residents to stay for that too.
Joan Andrews has been the conductor of Village Voices since
1999. Joan grew up in Ottawa and graduated from the University
of Western Ontario as a specialist in Music Education. She then
began a thirty-one year career as a vocal and instrumental music
teacher with the Scarborough Board of Education and ultimately
became head of the music department at Norman Bethune Collegiate
thirty years she has been a member of the Amadeus Choir of
Greater Toronto in which she sings soprano and is assistant
conductor. Also an accomplished flutist, she is a member of The
Encore Symphonic Concert Band which is made up mainly of retired
professional musicians like herself.
sixty members, Village Voices began in 1989. Three of its
founders still sing with the choir---Eleanor Stephens, Karen
Ryan and Helen Pawluk.
I asked Helen
how the group first formed.
“There was a group of us that loved to sing,” she said. “We had
sung together for a number of years and we decided to form the
At first they
practised at the piano in the basements of a couple of different
“Then we moved
on to a school, and then we rented Unionville Presbyterian Church to
rehearse in,” Helen explained.
There were approximately 30 members when the choir formed, with Eleanor Malcolmson as
their first director. One of their early appearances was to
sing at the opening of the
Markham-Stouffville Hospital. They also performed at a number of seniors
homes and churches.
gradually evolved over the years into this large choir with a
broader range of music,” she said.
began with a core group from the Unionville area but, as it
became better known, has attracted members from the wider York
Region and from the north end of Toronto and Scarborough.
Eleanor Clayton, president of the choir’s executive committee,
about the challenges of running a large community choir.
Meeting expenses is always one of them. Rental of their
rehearsal space, the printing of programs and the honorariums
paid to guest soloists are among the big items. Fundraising is
therefore an ongoing necessity.
The choir recently held a fashion show to raise money
to defray the costs of a chartered bus to London, Ontario where
they performed with the Welsh Choir. This was part of an
exchange that saw the London-based choir travel to Markham to
sing jointly with the Village Voices.
coordinator Pat Florio explained, Village Voices’ mandate is to
serve the community. Among their yearly events is a concert at
Participation House, a home for challenged adults, located next to
the Markham-Stouffville Hospital.
But the biggest
events of the choir’s calendar are the Christmas and Spring
Concerts. Next year’s Spring concert will be quite special. They
will perform two concerts jointly with the Richmond Hill United
Church choir, one on May 4, 2008 in Richmond Hill and another on May
10 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Markham.
The choir is
always open to new members. As conductor Joan Andrews explained,
you do not need to audition if you would like to participate but the
ability to read music, or to learn to do so, can be a big help.
Voices have reached a very high level of performance. This is due
to three key elements that have come together so successfully:
talented singers, the willingness to work hard and continually
improve, and the direction of a gifted and dedicated conductor.
SOPRANOS: Back row: Collette Kearns, Lynne Buckler,
Jean Van den
Brink, Linda Winston, Karen Marshall, Marina Mooney
Front row: Beatriz Valli, Heather Haslam,
Josephine Arbeledo, Karen Ryan
|SECOND SOPRANOS: Back row: Evelyn Lee, Lesley Malloy, Lorraine
Isobel Emmerson, Irina Kapran, Cindy Mak, Heather Maynard,
Front row: Barbara Cooper, Eleanor Clayton, Eileen Turner,
FIRST ALTOS: Back row: Phyllis Doherty, Laura
Hope, Renee Jensen,
Front row: Eunice Podolski, Chris
Chang, Sally White, Pam Wightman
SECOND ALTOS: Back row: Glenna Berger, Jean
Port, Marg Clarke, Sheila Fowler, Pat Geiger.
Front row: Helen Pawluk, Ann Orr, Catherine Patterson, Tiina
TENORS: Back row: David Vant Erve,
right Ian Newton
Front: Chris Norman right, Sid Mines
BASSES: Back row: Cliff Hope and Rod Ross
Front: David Roe and Doug Turner
for their December 1 concert
are $15 (children 12 and under free) and can be purchased in advance by calling
905-294-8687 or at the door, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 143
Main Street North, Markham. This venue is completely wheelchair
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To learn more
about Village Voices visit