Men lift their voices with spring concert

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 09:03 am

The Okotoks Men’s Chorus performs its annual spring concert in the Okotoks United Church on May 3 at 7 p.m.
The Okotoks Men’s Chorus performs its annual spring concert in the Okotoks United Church on May 3 at 7 p.m.
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A choir known for its rich, deep harmonies is letting its sound resonate in Okotoks this weekend.

The Okotoks Men’s Chorus will entertain its audience with an array of melodies from spiritual to classic at its annual spring concert in the Okotoks United Church on May 3 at 7 p.m.

Director Tim Korthuis said finding music for a men’s choir is a challenge and after much searching he is ecstatic with this spring’s selection. Among the songs he chose are “All For Me Grog” by Stephen Hatfield, “Going Home” by Antonin Dvorak, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “Prayer of the Children” by Kurt Bestor.

“There’s not a whole lot of range for men’s choral music if you are not doing spirituals,” said Korthuis. “I try to find a variety of different stuff that the audience will enjoy and the men will enjoy. Sometimes it’s a little different.”

Korthuis said finding music for the choir to perform takes some digging, despite men’s choirs being a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

“Famous composers like Eric Whitacre arranges stuff especially for men’s voices,” he said. “There is a different tone quality to just men. There’s a depth and richness to all men’s voices.”

While choirs may seem a serious hobby to some, Korthuis said that is not the case with the Okotoks Men’s Chorus.

“We joke around with the audience and we have lots of fun in our rehearsals,” he said. “When we first started doing spring concerts the guys were very serious. I can’t do concerts like that.”

The group’s 20 participants range widely in age and the number continues to grow each season with members from Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, High River and even Calgary, said Korthuis.

Not all members come from a singing background, he said.

“Even if they have never sung before we’ve had a couple guys say, ‘I retired and always wanted to sing,’” he said. “They learn to sing and read music.

“I really enjoy seeing their faces when they see the beautiful songs they can create. The pieces I pick push them a lot.”

The Okotoks Men’s Chorus will share the spotlight this weekend with the École Okotoks Junior High School choir, Calgary husband and wife duet Kevin and Jocelyn Leiver and the chorus’ accompanist and singer/songwriter Heather Halaand.

“We see our concerts as an opportunity to highlight the great music that exists in Okotoks,” said Korthuis, adding the group often collaborates with local musicians and choirs. “We want to make sure we have a concert that has a lot of variety so people enjoy it and it’s well worth their money.”

Halaand, who plays piano for the chorus, said this weekend’s performance is an opportunity to get her voice heard after taking a break from singing due to family and health issues.

“I decided it was time to start getting myself out there,” she said.

The Okotokian recorded a CD called “That Special Something” five years ago and hopes to get the album of gospel, jazz and blues music some recognition.

Halaand is a voice teacher, former Big Rock Singer, director of a male choir in Calgary and has performed in the spring concert before.

Jocelyn Leiver also has a long music resume having studied piano and voice as a child in Okotoks and was involved with the junior and senior high school bands, choirs and musical theatre productions.

In addition to being a pianist for the Okotoks United Church Choir and occasionally the Big Rock Singers, Leiver is involved with musical theatre in Calgary having performed with various theatre groups including the Morpheus Theatre Society.

Her husband is also involved in musical theatre and together the two will perform a variety of songs including some theatrical numbers.

“I really like working with the Okotoks Men’s choir,” said Leiver. “They always put on a really nice show with a really diverse program so it’s fun to be a part of something like that.”

Tickets to attend the Okotoks Men’s Chorus spring concert cost $15 each and are available at Sobeys, Okotoks Flowers and Things or by contacting Richard Ellum at 403-938-7998.

Proceeds made from ticket sales and the silent auction will go toward the Rowan House Emergency Shelter in High River.


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