As Whistler enters the (somewhat) slower season of autumn, Arts Whistler is presenting Fall for Arts, a collection of exhibitions, classes, performances and more highlighting the diverse arts and artists this town has to offer. In this spirit, we offer a brief look back at one of the older (or younger, depending on how you look at it) performing groups in Whistler: the Whistler Children’s Chorus.
The Whistler Children’s Chorus performing Hakuna Matata, 1995. Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.
The Chorus began in 1991 when Molly Boyd, already the director of the Whistler Singers, was asked to put together a group of children to perform with a Vancouver orchestra putting on Noye’s Fludde (an opera based on Noah’s Ark) in Whistler. Under the direction of Boyd this group would become known as the Whistler Children’s Chorus in 1992, accepting members 6 and up with the mandate to “provide opportunities for all children in our community to sing and enjoy making music”.
The first performances of the newly formed Chorus included carolling through the Village with the Whistler Singers and joining the Singers at the Christmas Eve Carol Service (a Christmas tradition now entering its 34th year). The community of Whistler and its variety of events (ie. ski races) soon offered the Chorus many opportunities to perform. The Chorus participated in the community’s Canada Day Parade and Remembrance Day Ceremony and annually held holiday concerts in support of the Whistler Food Bank.
The Whistler Children’s Chorus in the Canada Day Parade, 1997. Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.
Most notably, in 2002 the Chorus was chosen to represent British Columbia in the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill as part of Unisong, a 500-voice choir made up of choirs from across the country. During this visit to Ottawa the Chorus performed in the National Arts Centre, Christ Church Cathedral and at then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s garden party. This trip also taught the valuable lesson that red shirts, white pants and fire hoses do not mix, as adult chaperones sat up late trying to scrub the pink out of once white materials.
Unisong mass choir performing in the National Arts Centre, July 2001. Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus
During the lead up to the 2010 Olympics the Chorus built on their early experiences at parades and races to become veritable pros at performing “O Canada”, as well as the catchy official song of the Torch Relay (complete with choreography). Beginning well before the Olympics at “A Celebration of Canada” for the IOC in 2003, the Chorus performed for the Bid Announcement on July 2, 2003, the “100 Day Countdown Celebration” in November, 2009, the arrival of the Olympic Torch in February 2010, with Norman Foote during the Olympics, and at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.
Whistler, BC, February 5th 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Whistler. The Whistler Children’s Choir and the Whistler Singers sing, “There’s a Light/ Cette Flamme,” Photo: Ian Robertson / coastphoto.com
Now in its 24th season, the Whistler Children’s Chorus continues to provide opportunities for children to sing and make music. They can next be seen performing a spooky selection of songs October 30th at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church. For more information check out their website or find the choir on Facebook.
If you fancy singing yourself, consider joining the Whistler Singers (Wednesdays at Maury Young Arts Centre) or Barbed Choir (Sundays at the Point). All are welcome.
By Allyn Pringle