SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Choir members rise as the chords of a piano vibrate through the room in Summerside’s Trinity United Church on Tuesday evening.
Men, women, old and young from all different walks of life bring a song vividly to life while they connect in perfect harmony with the Summerside Community Choir.
“Once your mouth is in gear and you’re singing, if you have any troubles they all just disappear,” said member Betty Buley.
Buley has been singing in the choir since its inception, a bet won by Bill Leuty, in 1978.
Leuty approached Czeslaw Gladyszewsi, who was hired by the St. Thomas Aquinas Society, to organize a choir in the Summerside area. Gladyszewsi had his doubts that Leuty could muster up the numbers and, offered to conduct for free if a choir was formed…
This year the Summerside Community Choir celebrates its 40th anniversary. The baton has been passed along, and Margot Rejskind, from Charlottetown, is now the choir conductor.
From small halls to sold-out crowds, the choir has sung for royalty, accompanying guitarist Paul Bernard, composer Frank Mills, vocalist Meaghan Blanchard, to name but a few. But for Buley the highlight was the Celebration of Canadian Choral Music at Carnegie Hall in NYC.
“When we sang in the Hall the acoustic sound was like the difference between a sheer light bulb and a crystal chandelier. We found we sparkled. Many of us have never forgotten that experience,” said Buley.
Every voice and nuance could be easily and naturally heard.
“We’ve had some marvellous experiences,” she added.
“Many have actually taken place at the historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River. It was stated that the concert we performed in 1987 helped support the ‘Save St. Mary’s Church Restoration Campaign’ fund. The fund-raising campaign was launched in February 1987, after a study recommended repairs be made immediately or, the church should be torn down.
“All 50 of us sung our hearts out in the shivering cold and it was the beginning of the resurrection of the church.”
Needless to say, St. Mary’s Church is still thriving 30 plus years later.
The choir ranges from seniors to students, and there are no auditions required.
High school students in Grades 11 and 12 who wish to join the choir (at a rate of $5 per hour) can count up to 100 hours singing towards a post-secondary bursary through P.E.I.’s Community Service Bursary Program.
The choir encourages everyone to join.
In celebration of their 40th anniversary, the group will take to the road on Friday, May 18.
“Our next performance is The Digby High C’s Choral Event. We have been invited as a ‘Guest Choir,’ so it’s a choral festival in a magnificent church,” said Buley.
The choir will wrap-up their musical retreat by raising the roof, with their voices, of St. Bernard’s Church in Digby, NS, on Sunday, May 20.
For more information, visit www.summersidechoir.ca.