The goal is musical enrichment – but it comes with a hefty dose of fun, too.
The Woodstock Fanshawe Singers, which began in 1984, is a fixture in the local musical community.
“We are a fun-loving, nice group of people,” said longtime member Val Easton. She’s been with the chamber choir for 30 years.
And she emphasizes that the appeal of Woodstock Fanshawe Singers goes far beyond the music.
“We love to eat together as well as sing together,” Easton said with a chuckle.
“For me…it has been not only the joy of singing in a group of people that care about music, but also the camaraderie and the professional development it was for me, because I was a music teacher.”
About six years ago, she even propelled her love of teaching into a secondary choir for young people.
The Woodstock Fanshawe Youth Singers is a chance for kids and teens in the area to get involved with music.
“There’s no formal audition, we just invite them to come to a rehearsal,” said Youth Singers director Sammy Hayes. The youth choir is open to anyone from Grade 3 to high school, and January is a great time to join, as it marks the second half of the choir’s season.
“They have an opportunity to be creative and expressive. Kids don’t always have an outlet for their emotions. This is really great, safe place for them to do that,” Hayes said.
It’s also a wonderful way to share the joy of music – and basic musical education – with those who can’t afford private lessons. The adult members of the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers help to subsidize costs for the youngsters, so everything from uniforms to sheet music is free.
“It’s a great social time for them,” Hayes said. “And it’s also a great mentoring opportunity for our older singers. They’re able to help the younger ones.”
Both the adult and youth choirs are gearing up for a big holiday performance on Saturday.
The first of two Christmas concerts will be very kid and family-friendly, featuring sing-a-long songs and even a visit from Santa.
The evening concert will be a little more formal. The choir is even performing a piece, called Snow Angel, written by a former member, Sarah Quartel.
“She started writing when she was only 18. She has gone on to become a prominent Canadian choral composer,” Easton said.
The youth choir performs at both concerts, too.
“Youth Singers love when they perform with Fanshawe Singers, because to enveloped by that sound, it holds you right up – it’s really magic,” Easton said.
Like Easton, many of the members in the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers have been part of the choir for decades. It’s the kind of group you just can’t leave.
“The choir for me has been, on so many levels, very deeply satisfying,” Easton said.
“That’s what we hope for all of our members. We offer a chance to do classical music, a chance to do music with great depth, and most important, Canadian music.”
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IF YOU GO
Where: St. David’s United Church, 190 Springbank Ave.
When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Kids free, adults $15, seniors $10