Outdoor choral festival will bring singers from across the province together in song
To celebrate a much-anticipated return to in-person choral singing after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Manitoba Choral Association (MCA) will host an outdoor choral festival to bring Manitobans together for a celebratory day of singing. Aptly called GATHER, the event will take place on Saturday, October 1 on Treaty 1 Territory at the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg.
The first of its kind for the choral arts community, GATHER will feature
performances of Manitoba choirs and vocal ensembles, musical acts, workshops for singers, and opportunities for reconnecting with community members through spaces devoted to creating art and enjoying outdoor games. Local food vendors and an artisan market will round out the festival experience. MCA will host an online 50/50 raffle leading up to the event as well.
“There is a lot of excitement among our members and the community around this event. After over two years of cancelled or modified programming, choirs are eager to come together in-person to sing once again,” said MCA’s Executive Director, Jenny Steinke-Magnus. “We invite everyone in the Manitoba choral community and beyond to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to the park and celebrate with us at this exciting event.”
The festival schedule is already full, featuring performances from choirs and ensembles of all ages and styles from Winnipeg to as far away as Niverville. MCA has also engaged local musicians to perform at the event, including JP Hoe, a long-time friend to the choral community who has just released the album Botanicals. He will lead the much-anticipated finale mass sing-along in collaboration with the Canadian Mennonite University Chamber Choir and the University of Manitoba Upper Voices. ASL interpretation will be provided for the finale performance.
In addition to choral music, GATHER will also include performances by Indigenous drumming and singing group from the North End Women’s Centre Buffalo Gals, jazz manouche and early swing quartet Juvel, and a cappella vocal group Those Guys. There will also be workshops for singers facilitated by Anishinaabe traditional drummer and singer Cory Campbell, who will lead a workshop teaching the original song Gratitude, and yoga instructor Rose Van der Hooft, who will guide attendees in a morning yoga practice focused on breathing and mindfulness for singers.
There is much to celebrate after such a lengthy period of silence due to pandemic restrictions. Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on Manitoba choirs and the thousands of Manitobans who sing in them. Due to public health guidelines discouraging choral activities since March 2020, many choirs have suspended their activities or have operated entirely online since then in order to maintain a connection with their members and patrons. Now choirs have begun to resume in-person singing, and MCA is looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with the community. “This event will be a
positive and uplifting experience to all involved, performers and audience members alike,” Steinke-Magnus said. “We are excited to host an event that brings choirs together to do what they do best: share the joy of community and group singing.”
MCA encourages all those who enjoy choral music and group singing or who want to show their support to the choral community to attend the event. “Choirs love performing for audiences,” Steinke-Magnus said. “We invite all Manitobans to come check out the event. There will be something for everybody to watch, hear, and experience on or off stage at GATHER.”
MCA is grateful to The Winnipeg Foundation for making this event possible through a generous community grant. More information on GATHER can be found at mbchoralassociation.ca/gather-outdoor-choral-festival.