Sundays are for singing


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/02/2022 (481 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a long winter and an even longer pandemic. While singing in the shower can help with personal renewal, it’s time to kick that up with singing with others even while in various stages of a lockdown. That can happen every Sunday afternoon thanks to Margaret’s Choir, Café Nuages and James Keelaghan.

The musical experiences are online, allowing for folks to not miss out on learning new songs while building community.

Margaret’s Choir has the good fortune to have Katy Harmer lead the singers in developing a repertoire they plan to perform at a concert when COVID restrictions allow.  Currently rehearsals are via Zoom until the choir can sing in-person at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg.

Supplied photo Katy Harmer is the choral conductor who leads Margaret’s Choir.

Not only is Katy a choral conductor for Margaret’s Choir and the Beer Choir, she is a community musician, music educator, singer and arts administrator. A Torontonian, Harmer came to Winnipeg via Yellowknife to pursue a master’s degree in conducting at the University of Manitoba with a specialty in voice-matching.

A lifelong musician, Harmer says she was ‘born to choir” as both her parents always sang in choirs. Conducting became a passion for Katy, who “loves to shape sounds and then send that out to the audience.” Harmer finds voice-matching “ a safe way to blend voices while helping people find their own true voice.” She aims to find a spot for every voice in the choir “through the magic of voice-blending.” 

Harmer values that Margaret’s Choir performs benefit concerts for organizations needing a hand-up, as she feels “it shows a love for this city, and it puts my philosophy of building community into action.”

“I look forward to Sundays as it connects people who want to sing without the pressure of an audition,” Harmer says. “If you don’t read music, we’ll help you, just think of it as learning a new language.”

Grant Simpson is a virtuoso who brings a lifetime of conducting and performing from Whitehorse, Yukon to Winnipeg which he refers to as a “cultural mecca.”

As the owner of Frantic Follies, Simpson ran the Whitehorse tourist attraction for decades and made vaudeville history fun for new generations.

Sunday singing with Simpson’s Café Nuages is a medley of Broadway, jazz and blues tunes sung by folks who have had a tutorial with Simpson. A nominal fee entitles a singer, no audition required, to music selected by Simpson, and a rehearsal with piano accompaniment. Simpson records each person’s final session and compiles them for a performance workshop that airs Sundays on Zoom.

Simpson’s mantra is, “music is good for your brain and good for your soul.”  

Terry Cooke is a singer who enjoys the best of both worlds, as she performs with Margaret’s Choir and Café Rouge. 

“It is a lot of fun especially during these COVID times,” she says. “It is a gift to be able to experience online camaraderie and music.  Both conductors offer a cheerful learning experience that keep us striving vocally and give us a focus, to have people in our lives that provide both platform and purpose, online and in-person when possible is treasured.”

For those missing in person concerts at the West End Cultural Centre, and missing James Keelaghan especially, he is running a series of virtual house concerts on Sunday afternoons throughout February followed by a question-and-answer session.

The series is called, appropriately, A Month of Sundays and Keelaghan, Rrenowned internationally for his folk classic lyrics, he says “each show will be different.” 

To explore singing on Sundays see:; (for Cafe Rouge) (for A Month of Sundays)

Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at if you have a story suggestion.

Heather Emberley

Heather Emberley
Crescentwood community correspondent

Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at if you have a story suggestion.

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