A glorious weekend of music making, friendship and spiritual connection concluded May 22 with the High Cs choral concert at the Saint Bernard Church, featuring the 200 voice mass choir from the fourth annual ‘High Cs in Digby’ choral festival.
Choristers from 26 different choirs and others with no choir affiliation throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island converged at the Digby Pines for a weekend of workshops and rehearsals that lead to the main event at the acoustically renowned stone church.
Mass choir director Richard Probert, who serves as music director of the Sackets Vocal Arts Ensemble in New York, said it was wonderful working with so many talented singers and musicians.
“It was a glorious musical weekend, I feel the magic comes from Nova Scotia,” he said.
Richard Treleaven, president of the host Digby Choral Festival, said organizers achieved their goal of 200 voices and believe they can sustain that number in the future.
“The festival has become so popular that the organizers had to halt registration because of venue limitations, which they promise to deal with in 2012,” said Treleaven.
“The festival embraces community and church choirs coming together in concert with a fun weekend for choristers.”
Highlighting the Sunday concert was the Halifax group, Chebucto Community Singers directed by Louise Grinstead, and Dartmouth’s Grace United Church Choir with Malcolm Bradley as director.
Edie and Jim Nickle, along with Karen Wickwire, members of the Chebucto singers, said their group of 40 rented a bus to get to Digby.
“This weekend was wonderful and amazing,” said Wickwire, who has been with the choir for 30 years. “We love to sing, it’s just like family.”
Sylvia Wedderburn, guest soloist from Grace United Church choir, had high praise for Probert and for the weekend event.
“The conductor was Class ‘A’,” said Wedderburn. “The festival was full of fun and learning as well as an appreciation of music.”
Mass choir member Michelle Doucette said the weekend was musically intense and everyone worked so hard to stay focused.
“It was such a musically educational experience and there was much to be learned in a really short time,” said Doucette. “To be surrounded by such musical talent was just amazing, so rich.”
It was a glorious musical weekend, I feel the magic comes from Nova Scotia. - Mass choir director Richard Probert
Several members of Les Jeunes Clarions from Clare joined the adults in the mass choir performance.
Kitt Hanley of Concession whose daughter, Skylar sings with Les Jeunes Clarions, said the young girl’s choir did very well with their solo.
“It was great to hear all the voices, the different harmonies and the girls held up well with the older folks,” Hanley said.
Again this year, the festival awarded two youth choral scholarships, one to Micaela Comeau of Saulnierville, and the other to Kathryn Chisholm of Bear River.
Both girls will attend a week-long summer youth music camp in Berwick this August. The scholarship covers the cost of the camp, travel and includes a personal spending allowance.
Treleaven expressed appreciation to the many sponsors who helped make the event possible.
“It was the community support that has enabled the High Cs in Digby Choral Festival to become a jewel in the Atlantic choral scene.”