Two summers ago, I made my first journey to Nova Scotia–to a magical place for choral singing, under the Hemlocks at Berwick Choral Camp in the Annapolis Valley. It was there that Heather Fraser and I met, promising that “one day we will have our choirs sing together!”
And now, here we are, all of us glowing with pride at being able to welcome and host our new friends in our homes, in our towns and province!
This twinning of our choirs would not be possible without the tremendous funding of SEVEC, Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada. These SEVEC exchanges encourage cultural sharing by funding airfare travel in Canada, with the understanding that twinned groups will stay in each others homes and learn about Canadian history, geography and culture while touring.
WE LIVE HERE was initially inspired by the SEVEC guidelines for cultural exchange, but now the WE LIVE HERE concept is quickly taking on a life of its own, with plans to further highlight local music, artists, geography and history in future concert seasons.
This week, Annapolis Valley Honour Choir is with us in Metro Vancouver, performing with local school choirs in Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and Nanaimo; singing a concert on “The Chief” at the top of the Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola; and visiting places of cultural, artistic, historical and geographical significance. Together, we are sharing repertoire that examines Canada and “where we live” through the lens of choral music, and together, we are learning about each other, ourselves and the choral art.
In May, Coastal Sound Children’s Choir will be heading to the Annapolis Valley, where we are looking forward to singing songs like “The Blue Nose”, right there as we look at that ship in Lunenberg dry dock, or the Acadian song “Reel a Bouche” right there on the Acadian world heritage site that is Grand Pré.
Of these experiences, the most fun of all, is staying in each other’s homes! For many singers in both choirs, this is a first time away from home for any length of time. There is a lot of nervous excitement and much anticipation at the idea of living with another family for almost a week. For those of us who have participated in these SEVEC exchanges before, we know full well how transformative and unforgettable this exchange will be for singers. Our WE LIVE HERE project will be especially powerful because singing together–making and sharing expressive art together–is a major part of the exchange.
It is often said that we all have more in common, than differences. When you view the slide show in the concert, keep in mind that photos from Metro Vancouver and Nova Scotia have been shuffled together… and you may have trouble figuring out where photos were taken because of so many commonalities between our coastal communities. This certainly surprised us!
By nurturing and supporting this SEVEC cultural and musical exchange, you are helping the youth of these choirs become engaged, proud, confident and patriotic leaders in our country. You are ensuring that these young people become life-long seekers of peace and global understanding.
We hope you will come enjoy a spirited concert by these two outstanding Children’s Choirs, and we hope that you leave the evening with a renewed gratitude and advocacy for this place… because WE LIVE HERE.
Diana Clark, artistic director Coastal Sound Music Academy