To say that the past 2 years have been challenging would be an understatement, and RESOUND Choir was not without its own set of challenges. “Pivoting” was the word used by many organizations during this unprecedented time, and RESOUND Choir was no different. The organization was bolstered up by its dedicated board members, choristers, and incredibly talented Artistic Director, Thomas Burton, all of whom showed resilience and the courage to try new things, embrace technology, and persevere through difficult challenges. RESOUND was able to move forward with its continued aim to seek out opportunities to make meaningful contributions in our Region – providing choral workshops and performance opportunities for singers, hiring early-career instrumentalists, soloists, and conductors, premiering the works of Canadian composers, partnering with front-line community service organizations, and collaborating with dancers, visual artists and youth groups in the Region.

As a fledgling choir with a newly hired Artistic Director (they hadn’t even had the chance to rehearse in person together!), RESOUND was committed to continuing its momentum and providing its members with engaging and valuable content during virtual rehearsals every Sunday evening. With an extensive musical network, RESOUND was able to connect with fantastic composers, clinicians, and provide interesting focussed rehearsals and workshops for the benefit of all involved. Some of the clinicians that RESOUND Choir was able to learn from are Dr. Charlene Pauls (Toronto Conductor, Soprano, Clinician, Teacher), Gabi Epstein & Jeremy Lapalme (Stratford Stage Performers), Dr. Jerry Blackstone (Grammy Award-winning American choral conductor), Dr. Julia Davids (Artistic Director of the Canadian Chamber Choir and Author), Floydd Ricketts (Conductor, Award-Winning Musical Director, Educator, Activist), Joel Thompson (Atlanta-based composer), and Connor Koppin (Composer, California). During weekly rehearsal time, choristers were able to connect through ZOOM break-out rooms to get to know each other better. This was an unexpected bonus to the virtual format as choristers were introduced to each member in a more intimate way with conversation starters provided to foster friendships. Our executive board initiated some extracurricular interest groups via ZOOM over the lockdowns to promote community and give choristers opportunities to connect with others who share similar interests. Some members wrote blog posts about how these activities brought them joy which can be found on RESOUND’s website.

RESOUND Choir was fortunate to be able to record 3 Virtual Concerts over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic; “The Earth I Know” in November 2020, “As Above, So Below” in March 2021, and “The Storm Is Passing Over” in June 2021. These performances featured 2 pieces of music commissioned and composed especially for RESOUND Choir.  A stunning ethereal piece of music “She is Made Out of Stars” by composer Henrik Dahlgren and lyrics by Louise Alexandra, and a simply gorgeous composition “Emmène-moi” by composer Marie-Claire Saindon, and lyrics by Jocelyn Verret. These virtual concerts presented new challenges and RESOUND was excited that through learning and growth each concert was better than the last! 

RESOUND’s mandate for community outreach continues to be a priority and they were able to continue to collaborate within the community in a meaningful way. RESOUND featured local musicians, dance groups, artists, and storytellers in their concerts. With a generous grant from the Ontario Arts Council RESOUND was most recently able to hire 8 professional musicians for their December 2021 Concert, “Sing, My Child”; a collaborative pianist, harpist, percussionist, and a string quintet. In 2020, 9 students from S.A.Cawker elementary won a RESOUND song-writing contest which was subsequently arranged in 4-part choral by their music teacher, Christos Kaldis. This piece, called “Dreamer”, was performed by RESOUND Choir at its December 2021 concert. Also featured in its December concert, were readings from “The Skin You’re In”, a new children’s book by acclaimed author Gary Archibald and illustrator Kiki Symoné. This concert was recorded live utilizing part of the OAC grant to hire the audio engineer. The grant provided RESOUND the ability to provide enriching and engaging performances for the enjoyment of our community and its members. 

In 2021, RESOUND Choir was the recipient of a Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to rebuild and recover from the effects of the pandemic.  The project, just completed,  has allowed RESOUND Choir to continue creating and performing high-quality choral music through one of the most challenging and difficult times in recent history. This grant provided RESOUND with much-needed aid toward medium to longer-term recovery efforts, and building capacity and resiliency in the aftermath of COVID-19. Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, RESOUND Choir was able to hire Choral Scholars and Interns to enrich our programming, purchase choir risers for live performances and outdoor events, and purchase recording and video equipment, all of which made possible the continuation of high-quality performances.

RESOUND is very excited about its upcoming 2022 semesters! Their March concert, “Joy!”, will feature 2 new commissions by celebrated composers Andrew Balfour and Tracy Wong. In June RESOUND will be singing Brahms’ Requiem accompanied by the North York Concert Orchestra. The Choir will also be host to a workshop and concert with their guest, the National Youth Choir of Canada, and their director, Jean-Sebastien Vallée. The future is bright and exciting for RESOUND Choir.