History of the Choir

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A Brief History
based on
Margot C. Green’s
Historical Overview of the Brockville Community Choir

The early 1980s saw the establishment of an Arts Council in Brockville by Mary Hart. During this period Professor Denise Narcise-Mair was invited to conduct a mass mixed-voice choir which, after a three-hour rehearsal, performed with the Brockville Concert Band at the Brockville Arts Centre. Margot Green sang in that performance & has remained with the choir ever since.

September 1986. The Arts Council folded in favour of establishing the Brockville Community Choir under the direction of Howard Alexander. Ann Macdonald became the choir’s accompanist. A Provincial grant was obtained to assist with the purchase of music, and an honourarium was offered to the director. Rehearsals were held at St Paul’s Anglican Church. Shortly thereafter the choir divided to allow some members to form the Riverside Singers. The remaining members, comprising 2 tenors, 2 basses, 4-5 altos, 6-7 sopranos regrouped under the direction of Michael Capon, M.Mus., ARCT, and an energetic board of directors headed by Sheila Johnstone. Rehearsals were held in St Lawrence Lodge. The choir competed successfully in the Lions Club Music Festival for many years during this period.

1988-1998. Composer & conductor Peter Willsher LTCL, GTCL, replaced Michael Capon who moved to the Maritimes. His position & that of accompanist Ann Macdonald became salaried ones. Membership rose to 30, still lean on men, and the rehearsal venue moved to the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital. Uniforms were introduced for a brief period. The Choir qualified also briefly for a grant from the City of Brockville. Irene Lyle became its first Archivist. A highlight of this period was the four concerts performed with the Knight Singers of Montreal (now the Cantabile Choir) held both in Brockville and in Montreal. The choir enjoyed international exposure in 1988 when, for the Calgary Olympics, it was invited to sing the Olympic Anthem on Court House Green when the Olympic torch arrived in Brockville. The event was featured on CBS’ The Journal in a documentary “The Flame”. During this period the First Presbyterian church became the rehearsal venue.

1998-2008 Jeff Reusing B.Mus., M.Mus., ARCT succeeded Peter Willsher as music director when the latter moved to Ottawa. Jeff challenged the choir with a highly classical repertoire of well known oratorios, requiems and cantatas, multilingual libretti, and tighter vocal discipline. Membership grew to the 40s.

2008- Under the guidance of Dr Heather E. Eyerly, PhD, the choir continues to grow in numbers, technique and vocal ability. Malcolm Gillis now accompanies the choir. For the choir’s 25th season in 2010/2011, it entered new territory with all performances done outside the city of Brockville and its first performance with a full orchestra. All concerts were sell-outs.

Choir Presidents

1986/87
1987-89
1989-92
1992-94
1994/95
1995/96
1996/97
1997/98
1998-2000
2000-02
2002/03
2003-06
2006/07
2007-10
2010/11
2011/12
Kimberley Kelly
Sheila Johnston
Janet Purchase
Margot Green
David Sharpe
Catherine Green
Ray Howell
Evert Van Bolhuis
Charlotte Patterson
Freda Thompson
Don  Glover
Hans Steketee
Roy Forsyth
Rachel Bushnell
Marilyn White
Jim MacNeil

Accompanists

1986-2008
2008-
Ann Macdonald
Malcolm Gillis

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