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Tillsonburg welcomes Univox June 24

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Music is in the soul of most people. It excites, soothes, inspires, and can create sorrow and joy.

That's what you will experience Sunday, June 24 when St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church hosts a 2 p.m. Univox Concert. Tickets are $15.

Univox has performed in town several times to very appreciative audiences and has a connection to Tillsonburg with singer Stephen Scholtz, who for years sang in the Tillsonburg Youth Chorus, which happened to be run by Betty Scholtz.

Many people in town don’t understand that singing in a choir has the same attributes as playing hockey or soccer. You have to work together as a team, individually strong but not overpowering. You need to be responsible, disciplined, practice a lot and give it your all.

I can tell you the Univox Concert will be wonderful. They have proven themselves several times so for a different view I asked Stephen if he would share what it is like to sing with them.

"I sang with and was around the Tillsonburg Youth Chorus, my mom founded, for all of my years growing up in Tillsonburg, so chorale arts and choir culture has always been in my blood.

"When I graduated from college and landed my first job, I stopped singing for several years, not so much by intention but more from other things becoming priorities and from not searching out the opportunities to sing communally.

"When I moved to Toronto in 2005, it felt like a chance to start fresh. I missed the feelings that came with singing in a choir - the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment that comes from working together with a group of people, having a role to play and working towards the goal of performing beautiful and challenging music. I met Dallas, Univox's artistic director, through singing with another choir and eventually joined Univox in 2008. I've been singing and volunteering with them ever since.

"While Univox has filled that choir-sized hole in my heart and given me a creative outlet, it has come to mean so much more over the years.

"It's introduced me to the wide variety and diversity of modern chorale music from around the world, as well as the deep tradition and history of the chorale arts, going back centuries. It's been the source of so many musical and creative highlights, giving me the opportunity to perform some of the most exciting, fun, emotional and heart-breaking music, as well as help push the definition of what it means to experience a choir concert. From singing tone poems at Koerner Hall during Nuite Blanche to performing an acapella medley of great science fiction movie themes, to tearing the roof off with a rip-roaring rendition of Go Tell It on the Mountain backed by a funk band, the variety has been incredible.

"It's also given me personal opportunities that I wouldn't have had anywhere else. A few years ago, members of the choir were encouraged to try their hand at musical arrangement to help build the repertoire for a pop music concert. It was a joy beyond words to be able to arrange The Foo Fighters' My Hero as a tribute to my mom who had passed away the year before. I learned so much and the community was so supportive, sharing the musical and technical knowledge that we had, giving feedback and helping polish up each other's songs to make them the best they could be.

"More recently those opportunities with Univox have expanded to a global reach, having completed our first international tour to Cuba a couple years ago and most recently traveling in February to perform in Thailand!

"These opportunities and rewards are social as well. Being a non-auditioned choir in a city like Toronto means you get a wide range of people joining the group, students to professionals, but most notably newcomers to the city. Whether from small town Canada or from a completely different country, Univox can be a landing strip for people looking to make not only music but friends as well. The Univox community has wide arms and a big heart, with values of acceptance and love built into its core DNA. It's not hyperbole to say that singing with Univox and seeing its diverse members get along gives me hope for the future of the world.

"I'm excited about the future of Univox, and proud to help bring the choir to Tillsonburg to share our love of music with my home town. Check out Univox on our website." 

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