"All God's critters got a place in the choir"

“All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, Some Sing Low and Some Sing Higher.”

Bill Staines’ lyrics make a fitting introduction to the Lillooet Community Choir. Begun in 2014 by a handful of people who shared a passion for singing, with support from former Lillooet schoolteacher Kathleen Gunn, the choir has been an amorphous and welcoming organization for the past four years. When Kathleen left Lillooet, Jeff O’Kelly, a staunch member of the bass section, kindly stepped in to conduct the choir and expand our musical horizons, both theoretically and historically.

Some sing low, and some definitely sing higher. And the rest sing in between. Can’t read music? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Love to sing in the shower? You’re in! Sang professionally in the past? No problem, we’d love to have you with us. Always wanted to sing, but were afraid to ask? Come on along!

What brings people to sing in the choir? There is definitely some magic involved. There is much joy to be found in making music. There is camaraderie, laughter, friendship, and a shared sense of hard work and accomplishment.

We can move from, “Oh man, this is so hard,” to “Amazing! Who would have thought that we could actually sing this polyphonic piece by Palestrina?”

There is the fun to be had in putting together popular songs that everyone loves, the close harmony of barbershop, the vibrant rhythms of Africa.

There is the soothing balm that music brings to the soul at the end of a stressful day or week, a sense of settling calm that descends as we sit down to tune our voices together. There is the thrill of looking out at the audience during a performance and seeing the joy on their faces, or the tears in their eyes as our music making plays on their heart strings.

And there’s Ted. Our faithful friend, Ted Margrett, who brings his microphones, headset, mixers and goodness knows what else, to rehearsals. Ted records and records and records, so that we can listen to ourselves, to celebrate the passages that are great, and to better understand, with Jeff’s help, what we need to work on to make it all better. Ted even made a film about us, “The Lillooet Community Choir, Warts and All.” We loved it!

Truly a community effort, St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s United/Anglican Church kindly lets the choir rent rehearsal and performance space. The Lytton Community Choir shared its sheet music collection. Singers pay a toonie a time into the kitty to help defray expenses. Friendly music lovers assist with grants and donations from time to time. We are grateful!

If you’d like to hear “All God’s Creatures….” you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcG1JNpazN4

If you’d like to hear the Lillooet Community Choir, you can do that too: Saturday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m. at St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s, 6th Avenue and Main Street.


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