The murmur of the audience, a flutter of expectation, those first notes that hit perfectly after all that rehearsal – that’s what the members of My Pop Choir experience if they become a part of a Show Choir.
Singers of all ages and talents join My Pop Choir for its warm sense of community, as well as for the chance to enjoy popular music that spans decades. From Burlington to Richmond Hill, from Oakville to several Toronto locations, they gather for regular sessions that lift their voices and spirits.
Then comes the extra bonus for those who feel like stretching their choral wings just a little bit more. The Show Choirs of My Pop Choir give them that chance. Gigs have included the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Place, the Royal Botanical Gardens, flash mobs, album releases, Lincoln Centre, Carnegie Hall, and much more. The choir has also sung in concert with Alessandra Paonessa and Jordana Talsky, two Toronto based musicians.
Show Choir members are drawn from all the regular choirs. There are no special requirements except faithful attendance at rehearsals, as well as at-home practice. Those who have participated are happy to share their experiences.
“It’s not that much different from our weekly sessions, but there is a deeper focus on dynamics and performance,” says Kristine Fitzpatrick, a member of the Burlington choir since 2017. “One of the best things is meeting people from the other choirs. There is no pressure, as long as you’re willing to make the commitment to rehearse.”
Oakville’s Danielle Gosselin reassures anyone who might think that Show Choir might be beyond their skills.
“People might have a misconception of the Show Choir. But it’s exactly like our [regular] choir. The only difference is that you have an audience. But they are not focussed on you. They focus on the conductor and the sound.”
June Mantle, who has been with the Etobicoke choir for eight years, thoroughly enjoys being a part of the Show Choir. “I love the challenge of learning music with dynamics—to render it a performance piece.”
Burlington singer, Lisa Ebel, agrees: “It's such a thrill to perform in a Show Choir, to stand as a group and work together to deliver a performance, to hear the different voice groups, to connect with those listening and to have that feeling of satisfaction when it all comes together.”
Mother and daughter, Suzanne and Zoe Coxon, especially remember the concert at Sunnybrook Hospital. “Our favourite audience would have to be the veterans at Sunnybrook. They really seemed to be glad to see us and it was a privilege to sing for them.”
Lisa Ebel also enjoyed My Pop Choir’s charitable concerts: “There was a fundraiser gala for Emily's House at Casa Loma, a fundraiser for the Children's Aid in Toronto, and a fundraiser gala for a women's shelter in Oakville.”
And then there is Carnegie Hall. For any music lover, just the words conjure up magic. The My Pop Choir Show Choir has been there, not just once, but twice – with one final performance happening in 2023. The choir performed as a part of Total Vocal, a celebration of a cappella singers from around the world.
Not surprisingly, those we interviewed found the experience somewhat overwhelming – but in a good way.
“You’re in a legendary building. But the time spent rehearsing is a lot of fun, walking in and going onstage for the sound check,” Kristine recalls. “There was a lot of laughing and a lot of work.”
Danielle agrees: “The performance was unbelievably fun but what I liked most of all was the process. It was the learning, the rehearsing with 200 people.”
Suzanne and Zoe shared the same reaction to Carnegie Hall: “Standing on the stage … looking out at the audience was an out-of-body experience, thinking about all the greats who had performed there.”
Everyone we talked to emphasized the joy of being in the Show Choir and encouraged all My Pop Choir singers to give it a try. As June commented: “You don’t have to worry about nerves or performance anxiety. Because if you’ve done the homework, it becomes all about touching your audience.”
Danielle agrees: “I didn’t feel nervous at all because I was surrounded by people who sang like me. When you are in a group you’re supported. We’re not judgmental – everyone agrees that we all make mistakes.”
Kristine sums up the Show Choir experience: “Just go for it. Don’t be afraid. What’s expected is that you will smile and sing for everyone!”