Musical director, actor, screenwriter, teacher, and as of the end of April, community choir leader. Meet Iain Stewart, who was welcomed by My Pop Choir’s Oakville group, as their new director at the beginning of the spring session.
“This is my first choir and it’s very exciting,” says Iain. “I’ve done a lot of musical directing, which is very similar, but usually with a smaller group. There will be 10 to 20 singers in a musical. But you’re working on the same things – technique and musicality.”
Iain’s background makes him a natural for choral directing as music has been a part of his life since childhood. “I started playing piano and then I was in musical theatre with my dad in Vancouver. We have a very musical family and always had music in the house.”
He studied choir at the Langley Fine Arts School in B.C. and was inspired by his choir director, one of the leading voices in the pedagogy of choral directing. “That’s where I get a lot of my training from.”
Iain started getting jobs as a musical director and, when he was 19, directed Side by Side by Sondheim. “That was a big foray into musical theatre and intricate melodies. I learned that I liked working with singers and musicians.”
After a year at Capilano University studying vocal jazz, Iain was off to Ontario. “I knew I wanted to go into theatre so I went to Sheridan College. He graduated from the prestigious Sheridan College Music Theatre Performance Program in 2011. Since then, he has taught and choreographed for Beaches Dance and Music Studio, Stagecoach Toronto West, A.C.T.E., The Space, and Xtreme Theatre.
“I have a lot of passions. I’m a bit of a Renaissance man. I love acting, screenwriting, filmmaking, music. I love it all, so I try to incorporate as much of the arts into my life as I can.”
Iain just filmed a movie, called Mother Father Sister Brother Frank. “It was such a dream come true, the first lead of a movie that I’ve ever done, so it was super exciting.” And in July, he will be appearing in a play called Prairie Nurse in Port Hope.
It was through the Sheridan College connection that he met Alex Fiddes, My Pop Choir owner/director. “Alex thought that I would be a good fit for the choir, because of my musical background and also because I would be a good, friendly leader for the group.”
Iain has just begun working with the Oakville choir and he admits that his first impressions came as a pleasant surprise. “What I am shocked at is how together and talented everybody is. I had assumed beforehand that, being a community choir, it would be more focussed on just plunking out the notes. But everyone catches on very quickly.”
His praise continues: “People practise at home, they go over the material and they come prepared, which is such a dream for someone in my position. Overall, they seem really good at listening to each other.”
That is not to say that Iain doesn’t have aspirations for even more polish.
“I want to work towards getting our heads out of the book and really feeling it as a group. I want to find that kind of magic that happens between everybody that makes you stop thinking about yourself and think about the group sound.”
Clearly the Oakville singers have a lot to look forward to with their new director. Iain’s enthusiasm is reflected in everything he says about his new gig. “I am excited about the future and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I love hearing when people click and that harmony comes together.”