Age no barrier to learning for choir members

Starlight Pops Choir performing matinees this weekend in Saanich

The Starlight Pops Choir will perform everything from The Beatles to Beyoncé during this weekend’s concerts at St. Aidan’s Church.

The Starlight Pops Choir will perform everything from The Beatles to Beyoncé during this weekend’s concerts at St. Aidan’s Church.

From the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll to the King of Pop (and everything in between, including The Beatles, Beyoncé, Queen and Coldplay), the Starlight Pops Choir does it all.

The 70-plus person community choir was the brainchild of accomplished singer Sue Doman, who acts as the choir’s director.

“My inspiration was Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Back in the ’70s, he really introduced the idea that orchestras could perform popular music. Folks thought orchestral music was for the elite,” Doman said.

“I wanted to do the same thing, but with choral music, in Victoria and it’s been working really well.”

In a short three years since the choir’s inception, the singer population has nearly doubled and they’re booking shows throughout Greater Victoria on a regular basis.

For the professionally trained Doman, one of the challenges in conducting a community choir is that the talent ranges from decades of singing experience to first-time performers.

“I work hard to foster a collegial environment, so folks are helping each other out. There’s no room for competition or politics. Everyone embraces helping one another,” she said. “And for the people who sing in the choir, whatever talent they have and whatever ability they’ll be able to contribute will be nurtured and appreciated.”

The ages of the singers range from their 30s to their 80s – though Doman says the most interesting aspect of that is how open the singers are to performing new and unfamiliar tunes.

“If it’s something they’re unfamiliar with – perhaps the song’s not of their generation – their initial response is usually, ‘I’m not sure about this one.’ But once we get into the rehearsal process, they make a complete 180 and it becomes one of their favourites,” Doman said.

Most recently, that was the case with the Coldplay song “Fix You.”

“It’s so great to see these folks expanding their musical horizons. And the audience just eats it up.”

The Starlight Pops Choir performs at St. Aidan’s United Church (3703 St. Aidan’s St.) in Saanich on June 25 and 26. The two matinees start at 2:30 p.m. and tickets ($20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students) are available at the door.

“The concerts really appeal to all ages,” Doman said. “I don’t know of any other group that performs the kind of music we do, the way that we do. There’s something attractive about hearing popular music done differently.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com