Concert-goers bid farewell to Oak Bay’s 2017 Concert in the Park series this week, after enjoying performances by Impulse Response, Bijoux du Bayou, the Fintan O’Brien Band and the Damian Graham Trio through July and August. One last group takes to the stage Thursday, Aug. 24, to share Motown, soul, R&B and gospel with a crowd of hundreds at Willows Beach Park.
Sponsored by Roberto Cecchini, an Oak Bay resident committed to keeping arts and music alive in his municipality, the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir plans to sing modern gospel hits, Earth, Wind &Fire, Sly and the Family Stone and more.
The choir has rehearsed and performed for an upcoming 15 years under director Checo Tohomaso, who has sung alongside Marvin Gaye, Lionell Richie and the Commodores. In that time, the choir has visited a multitude of stages across Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island, fuelled by its director’s infectious enthusiasm.
Executive director Gord Warrenchuk said the choir often raises the house lights in traditional performance venues to engage more with the audience; something which the outdoor concerts, aided by bright natural light and a casual setting, make easy.
“This will be a great performance,” Warrenchuk said of Aug. 24’s park concert. “The last two had good crowds of maybe a thousand people.”
For the past two years, the choir has opened the Concert in the Park Series. This will be its first closing performance, boosted by several brand new choir singers who have rehearsed and caught on with the repertoire. Warrenchuk expects the same substantial turnout as in previous years.
A sample of the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir’s music can be heard at victoriasoulgospel.ca. The non-auditioned choir invites any interested in singing to join rehearsal every other Tuesday under Tohomaso’s direction. The next group rehearsal runs 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 12.