The 425 singers in the Fireworks Community Choir had never rehearsed as a group until two hours before their performance in Nelson on Saturday.
Director Allison Girvan had sent them online music and rehearsal recordings for five songs months ago when they registered for the ambitious project, but she wasn’t sure how it would sound.
The huge group sang for an audience of 615 people in the Community Complex arena.
“It was beautiful,” Girvan said. “It was so so beautiful. There were some who had never sung in a group in their lives so it was a huge leap of faith for them. They came and trusted something beautiful was going to unfold, and it certainly did. People came prepared, and with a feeling of openness that blew my mind.”
And then there was the question of the acoustics. Most people in Nelson know that it can be hard to understand someone speaking into a mic in that building, but 400 singers with no microphones is another matter.
“We had no idea how that would be,” Girvan said. “I have heard from the audience that the sound was amazing.”
The audience agreed, judging from the exuberant standing ovation at the end.
This was a Capitol Theatre event.
“Many audience members told me they were very moved by the music,” said the theatre’s executive director Stephanie Fischer, “and by the powerful sound of the voices.”
“I had tears in my eyes,” she said, “especially because of the song Your One and Only Life.”
In addition to members of the public who registered and practiced, the choir consisted of Girvan’s 63-member Corazón Vocal Ensemble and a group of 20 visiting students in the Community Through Choral Art course at Western University in London, Ontario. Fireworks, and Girvan’s Ripple Effect event coming up this weekend, are a course project for the students.
One of those students, Julia Rooth, was moved by the audience and the choir applauding each other at the end.
“That was when it occurred to me: that is community,” she said. “They applauded the art that we had shared with them, and we applauded the support and love that made our art possible to share. It felt like we were all applauding each other, the community, celebrating the moment we were in.”