Inclusive choir raising funds for CanU

Margaret’s Choir benefits community and singers

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This article was published 02/12/2014 (2924 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whether you can sing, can’t sing, or think you can’t sing, Margaret’s Choir is offering a space for you to join in and a chance to give back.

The non-auditioned choir, formerly known as the Spirit’s Call Choir and founded more than a decade ago welcomes anyone who is interested in singing or has a love of singing.

Glenis Pacak joined the choir three years ago after being invited to join by a friend.

Supplied Photo Margaret Tobin, founder of Margaret’s Choir, encourages everyone to sing, even if they think they can’t.

“I was not a singer before I joined the choir,” the River Park South resident said. Pacak sings in the tenor section composed of both women and men.

“I joke about being able to sing with Johnny Cash,” Pacak said. “I literally hadn’t recognized that my range was quite low.”

“When I would try to sing in a normal female range, which would be alto, I would have some challenges,” she said.

The choir of about 160 voices and directed by Jeremy Vallance meets at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg (603 Wellington Cres.) on a weekly basis to rehearse. Right now they are preparing for a benefit concert on Dec. 7 in support of CanU.

CanU is a mentor program which connects Winnipeg youth in the inner city with university students.

The program builds positive relationships between the youth and the university students and gives them a chance to participate in educational experiences hosted by faculties at the University of Manitoba.

This isn’t the first time Margaret’s Choir has hosted a benefit concert for non-profits in the community.
Over the 13 years the choir has been together it has raised over $190,000 for local and international charities.

“It was the vision from the beginning that the artistic side was to contribute to developmental projects locally and worldwide,” Margaret Tobin, co-founder of Margaret’s Choir, said.

“That’s one of things that’s different about our choir, that people really identify with.”

Tobin, 68, said in the early years of Spirit’s Call Choir, a woman wrote in requesting the choir put on a benefit for refugees overseas. From that point on, the choir had a mandate of raising funds for charitable programs.

Tobin also noted the importance of keeping the choir non-auditioned and open to everyone.

“So many people have been told, and believe, that their singing is not good enough, and in an audition that’s what happens,” Tobin said. “It’s not true, everyone can sing, though maybe we aren’t all vocal soloists.”

The choir was recently renamed after Tobin, a River Heights resident who is currently going through palliative care to manage a recurrence of breast cancer.

“It’s really touching,” Tobin said. “I am a pretty wordy person and it’s hard for me to even find words to say.

“You know people are telling me all the time, especially in my current circumstances, what the choir meant to them. It’s really special,” she said.

Tobin doesn’t expect to sing with the choir but said the performance will be recorded so she can see it afterwards.

The benefit concert is in the Jubilee Place Concert Hall at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (173 Talbot Ave.) at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. Guests Steve Kirby’s Kids and Jazz Buddies and the Kelvin High School chamber choir will also perform. General admission tickets are $16, student admission is $10, and under 12 years is $5.

For more information go to www.margaretschoir.ca

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