P.A. Concert Choir prepares Mother’s Day show

Matt Gardner
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Residents searching for the perfect Mother’s Day gift may want to give the Prince Albert Concert Choir a try.

Choir members are currently in final rehearsals for their upcoming spring concert, “Songs of Joy,” which takes place at Calvary United Church on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

“It is a general theme (of the concert),” choir president Linda Moriarty said of the title.

“We love to sing and all of these songs just bring an enormous amount of joy to us, and we hope that other people are going to feel that joy and be inspired by it.”

Admission is free to the concert, although members will be accepting donations.

“This is our gift to the community. Come and watch our show,” choir member Clark Rensberry said.

“The money goes towards buying more sheet music for the next year,” he joked.

The selection of Mother’s Day for the concert date arose in part from scheduling considerations, ensuring the concert took place before the long weekend.

Once the date was set, however, choir members took the theme and ran with it.

“We thought since it’s Mother’s Day, then we would make this into a celebration for mothers … a place that families can bring their mothers or grandmothers to in the evening if they want to take them out,” Moriarty said.

To help celebrate, organizers will give out 100 carnations to the first 100 women who walk through the door.

In keeping with the theme, some numbers will feature multiple generations of singers, such as Moriarty singing country and jazz tunes with her daughters and granddaughter.

One of the evening’s guest artists, soprano Alexandra Park, is the granddaughter of the choir’s conductor and accompanist, Robert and Lorna Gibson.

A member of the High Park Girls’ Choir for seven years and a soloist with the High Park Choirs of Toronto, Park recently completed her third year in the Bachelor of Music vocal performance program at the University of Toronto.

“She’s being featured twice … We’re representing sort of the choral community with generations,” Moriarty said.

This is our gift to the community. Clark Rensberry

The concert will feature a traditional repertoire of choral music, including pieces by the likes of Handel and Schubert, a medley from Les Misérables and Canadian favourites such as Fogarty’s Cove, The Skye Boat Song and Four Strong Winds.

“These are pieces that were picked to challenge us, basically, as we’re all people who have sang in choirs in our past and we've come here to basically be challenged and to challenge each other,” Rensberry said.

In challenging their musical talents, choir members have an invaluable ally in their conductor, whose attention to detail has further shaped them into a lean, mean singing machine.

“Bob is a wonderful musician, and so what we can learn from him just goes beyond what we would be exposed to anywhere else without leaving Prince Albert,” Moriarty said.

“Under the direction of Bob … he doesn’t accept anything that is mediocre, and he pushes us. He’s always pushing, pushing, pushing. Even the little littlest things that we think, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough’ … He’s saying, ‘Yeah, I didn’t hear the D.’ ‘Oh, really?’” she said with a laugh.

“So he’s a real perfectionist and we really benefit from that.”

The P.A. Concert Choir is comprised of members from all walks of life and includes doctors, teachers and ministers.

United by their love of singing choral works, the choir members are eager to show off their latest work to the wider community.

“We’re always happy to sing for whoever is here,” Moriarty said. “We’re expecting to fill our little church here and really hoping that our Mother’s Day celebration is beautiful, accepted by many and that they’re just here.”

“We’re doing Songs of Joy,” she added. “Come and be joyful with us.”

Organizations: Calvary United Church, High Park Choirs, University of Toronto Prince Albert

Geographic location: Alexandra Park, High Park, Toronto

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