Victoria Male Voice Choir members Guy Lokhorst

Singing for camaraderie: Victoria mens choir celebrates 35 years

June 14 concert a chance for ex-members and fans to reconnect with stalwart choir in Greater Victoria

Two men with music on their minds settle into a small Victoria studio, chatting readily about their choir’s upcoming season finale.

The congeniality is obvious when a third comes through the door.

“Frankie – as in Avalon,” Jim Johnson greets Frank Peters as the 25-year veteran of the group, settles into the couch.

The greeting highlights what Johnson, president of the Victoria Male Voice Choir, was previously saying – it’s about camaraderie as much as song.

“It’s like we’re a big family. There’s a sense of community with all these guys.”

‘These guys’ are about 20 men who rehearse out of Esquimalt United Church on Admirals Road, they perform six or eight times a year in seniors’ residences, hold a Christmas fundraising concert, then wind up with a finale concert. This year the men celebrate 35 years of songs with Bringing us Together, on June 14 in the Cordova Bay United Church.

“We’ve done everything from the Empress Hotel to McPherson,” says Johnson, proud of prior performance venues.

The diversity of their playlist, or repertoire, is part of what closes the generational gaps.

Though down to about half the numbers of their crew in the 1990s, the youngest singer is in his mid-20s and the oldest – well many hang around to roughly 90.

Johnson, president of the choir, credits musical director Yanik Giroux with providing a “flexible and entertaining”  environment for keeping the guys’ interest.

“At least half of them have been there since I started … there’s a core,” says Giroux, an 11-year veteran with the men’s choir.

“It’s about balance,” he adds. “They meet every week. At 7 p.m. I have to tell them to shut up and get to work. The social aspect is always a big one.”

Then there’s the repertoire. The traditional selections of English wartime songs, sea shanties and four-part harmonies aren’t necessarily alluring for the younger singers. But they have a few that the older members love to perform.

So they balance, programs like this year’s finale spans a spectrum that includes A Joyful Motzart Canon and Elton’ John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight (remember The Lion King?).

But year after year guys like Peters hang in, or return as Johnson did after a stint away, because of the friendships formed.

“Camaraderie and for the health of my lungs,” Peters says.

Between posture, presentation, learning music and lyrics, it’s a good workout. But the biggest achievement is when a catatonic senior starts a slow and slight tap of the foot to a tune, or when a gaggle of elders move their lips to the words, and on occasion sing along.

“It’s the satisfaction of the people you’re singing for,” Peters says, “the smiles you get form the seniors.”

There’s likely to be some toe tapping as they take the stage for 35 Years of Songs Bring us Together on June 14 at Cordova Bay United Church, 813 Claremont Ave. at 7 p.m.

Email info@victoriamale voicechoir.com or call 250-727-9904. Visit victoriamalevoicechoir.com to learn more about the group.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read