Top News

Summerside singer still tuned in with choir after 40 years of devotion

Betty Buley is gearing up to perform with the Summerside Community Choir at the historic St. Bernard's Church in Digby, N.S., on Victoria Day weekend.
Betty Buley is gearing up to perform with the Summerside Community Choir at the historic St. Bernard's Church in Digby, N.S., on Victoria Day weekend. - Desiree Anstey

Betty Buley has been singing in the choir since its inception, thanks to a bet won by Bill Leuty, in 1978

SUMMERSIDE – Choir members rise as the chords of a piano vibrate through the room in Summerside’s Trinity United Church.

Men, women, old and young from all different walks of life bring a song

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, thanks to 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 conductor’s 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 New York City.

“When we sang in the hall, the acoustic sound was like the difference between a sheer light bulb and a crystal chandelier. We sparkled. Many of us have never forgotten that experience,” said Buley.

Every voice 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 fundraising 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. It was the beginning of the resurrection of the church.”

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 can count up to 100 hours singing towards a post-secondary bursary through P.E.I.’s Community Service Bursary Program.

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.”

The choir will wrap-up their musical retreat by raising the roof, with their voices, of St. Bernard’s Church in Digby, N.S., on Sunday, May 20.

For more information, visit www.summersidechoir.ca.

newsroom@journalpioneer.com

Recent Stories