Over 100 singers made the trek from across the Cariboo and as far away as Kamloops through snowy conditions to 100 Mile House for the second Singabration choral workshop.
The workshop was lead by Dr. Adam Con, a well known and respected conductor currently with the University of Victoria’s music program.
“There was a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm in the room and of course Dr. Adam Con was such a wonderful leader,” says 100 Mile’s Eclectica choral director Marilyn Buyar. “He was high energy and so positive. It was a very successful day all around.”
The Eclectica Community Choir was one of 10 choirs that joined the workshop. The six Kamloops choirs that participated chartered a bus to come to 100 Mile House.
Con’s style stems from the body and focused on communication between the choir and choral directors. Using demonstrations, he taught choirs how to tackle difficult sections of a song, how to use the potential of the body to improve the quality of voice through specific movements.
“In a community like in 100 Mile, [singers] are working with one director, me, and they are just hearing their own voices during rehearsals,” says Buyar.
“When you bring in somebody of Dr. Con’s calibre and experience it opens up a whole lot of avenues for singers. For example with Dr. Con, he emphasizes movement and communication between the choir and the director through movement and gestures and facial expressions and because he is a practicing Thai Chi master, a lot of what he does in his Thai Chi and his yoga in terms of centring the core strength of the body, he brings to the singing experience.
“Really what the choir members get out of it is just how to access the strength and energy that they have in their bodies that they can draw on to improve their singing and the quality of their sound, not to mention the whole camaraderie that happens when you get all those voices together, people of different backgrounds together in a very joyful activity: making music.”
Buyar herself also says she benefited immensely from the workshop.
“It’s not often … that I have the opportunity to observe other choral directors — to ask them questions,” she says.
“We had a roundtable discussion with him over lunch so we were able to ask him very specific questions, so that doesn’t happen to me very often at all and it was wonderful to have him there demonstrating effective technique.
“Often he would stop and he would say,’this is for the directors,’ and he would tell us what he was doing, why he was doing it and the benefits of that.”
Buyar says the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
“There were smiles all around. At the end of the day we all worked really hard and we were concentrated all day except for maybe a 45-minute break for lunch, but at the end of the day there was such energy in the room,” she says.
“I think what people took away from it is that it awakened in them the understanding that they have the energy that is required for beautiful music, to make a very good sound, to communicate with each other. They just need to activate that energy.”
The Eclectica choir will be using what they’ve learned to prepare for the Remembrance Day ceremonies, as well as their annual benefit concert at Christmas.