The 35-year Reunion of the UVic Chamber Singers:
Reunion Day: April 26, 2008;
Two years in the planning, over 300 of the 450 members from the past 35 years were located and contacted. Over 150 alumni from all over North America and as far away as Korea participated in this most exciting event, held at St. Aidan’s United Church in Victoria; or participated in the organization and attendance at concerts across Canada during the following weeks. In Victoria, distinguished alumni presentations included videos of the work of film-makers and scorers, a recital featuring singers, string players and pianists, and a reading session of alumni composers. Conductor Bruce More commented: “It was with tears in my eyes that I listened to the first phrase of the reading session, when 80 voices from the past and present began to sing one of the alumni compositions.” The collective musicianship and vocal power was best summed up by Deryk Barker in his review of that evening’s concert when he wrote, “let us just say that this was probably the finest choir of its size ever assembled in Victoria.”
Alumni attendees enjoyed a mammoth display of memorabilia: 2 rooms with tables full of pictures, programmes, and other items, a TV/VCR cycling 12 videos taken during the past 20 years, and 12 banners from the East Asian tours ranging in size from 6 ft. long to a gigantic banner from the ‘05 Chongqing International Choral festival which measured 20 by 50 feet.
Group singing events included an hour of fun while reading through some of Bruce’s Gospel publications and gag arrangments. This was followed by a rehearsal of the massed choir selections for the 7:30pm concert for the general public. At 9pm a potluck dinner was served to over 100 alumni, followed by speeches, memories and roasts which ranged from thoughtful rememberances to hilarious stories.
The sheer energy of the reuniting of these people - the shouting and the hugging as they saw each other for the first time in decades - was a total delight! Heather Beckett (Selby) ‘83 tells of her Chamber Singers experience: “to always expect the best and more, and never be afraid to care; (these qualities) have shaped my life as a musician, as a teacher, and as a parent.” Ken Brewer ‘88 said “I talked with a lot of the alumni, and there was one chord that rang proudly throughout: the Chamber Singers experience was the strongest musical influence in our lives.”
Reunion Tour April 27-May 19, 2008:
Sunday morning at 10 am, 20 alumni singers joined 20 of this yeaer’s Chamber Singers to rehearse the full programme for the tour. One alumnus said, “I have to admit I was nervous - I know what was expected of us and I worked my ass off before coming. I haven’t had the opportunity to sing at such a high standard for many years and it felt good to open myself to this wonderful form of music once again.” After continued rehearsal on Monday morning, the group boarded their tour bus at 3pm for the evening concert in Parksville, with a subsequent concert each night in Comox, Langley, Penticton, Castlegar, Medicine Hat, Regina and Winnipeg. At the same time, the singers were treated to some of Canada’s most beautiful scenery as they travelled on a brand new luxury coach (McCullough Coach Lines) almost 11,000 kilometres to several regions of B.C., the prairies, the Canadian shield, the multicultural intensity of Toronto and Montreal, and the grandeur and beauty of our nation’s capital. The last performance was at Christ Church Deerpark in Toronto. As all the concerts, this one was organized by Chamber Singers alumni and had a highly enthusiastic audience with encores and standing ovations, befitting the final concert of a truly exciting tour and Bruce More’s last tour concert with the Chamber Singers. To quote Deryk Barker: “None who have passed through his hands in the last three-and-a-half decades could deny that the experience was a life-changing one. In the sixteen years (this week) that I have been reviewing Music in Victoria, I can think of nobody in this town who has done more to raise the level of choral singing - with the possible exception of Bruce’s wife, Connie; and it seems only fitting that UVic has decided to honour the couple with a Bruce and Connie More Scholarship.” The lives of the 40 alumni who experienced the busy 3 weeks of the reunion activities were greatly enriched, and the accomplishments of the Chamber Singers yet again contributed to the achievements of the University of Victoria.
By the way, Bruce says that this was the best tour group ever - really!