25 Memories From 25 Years


We were rehearsing at Passages Resort at Saratoga Beach in September 1998, and alto Lorill Vining was very pregnant—had enough of being pregnant. Noticing a trampoline nearby, Lorill and fellow alto Beth Kingston decided to go for a bounce to see if they could encourage that baby to make an appearance. Sure enough, Lorill’s water broke that night, and baby Keona was born the next morning.

We have (kind of) lost track, but there have been at least 15 babies born to Island Voices singers, including a set of twins!  It’s so delightful when a little one comes to visit a rehearsal, and there are many offers to “give mom a break”.

Here is Imant Raminsh’s arrangement of a Doukhobor lullaby “Bye Bye, Baby” from our first CD.

Community Justice

The members of Island Voices have always understood the power of music to make the world a better place. We have sung in hospitals, at the K'omoks Big House, at telethons, at the “Engaging the Arts: Working for Justice” concert, and at fundraisers for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and other charities.

Island Voices has always been primarily an a cappella choir, but in the fall of 2010, we got a call from the Comox Valley Community Justice Centre. Would we be interested in something totally different? As part of the Community Dialogue on Racism Project, we were invited to join with the Cantiamo Chamber Choir to perform a big work with an orchestra. We chose the fairly new “Requiem for Peace” by Larry Nickel—deciding we could manage seven movements. Local directors, Jo-Anne Preston and Jenn Riley, worked with their choirs, and John Van Deurson came up from UBC to bring it all together. What an honour it was to sing this “international call for forgiveness and reconciliation”.

There was no recording of “Requiem for Peace”, but here is Orlando di Lasso’s “Musica est Dei Donum Optimi” that we performed at our “Music Heals the World” concert in 2010.

Motion and Emotion

Choral music—more than just pitches and rhythms—conveys meaning and emotion. Director Jenn Forsland always looked for the deeper meaning in the music; so she asked questions for new pieces. “What is this song about?” “What is the composer trying to convey?” 

Beyond developing our sound as a choir, Jenn also focussed on singers as individuals. That involved moving! We did physical warm-ups and explored sound production because different kinds of music require a variety of sounds. And we had to move and sing at the same time! Many of us had never heard the term “choralography” before, but our singers stepped out of their comfort zones—more or less willingly. We will never forget performing the “Pentatonix’ White Winter Hymnal”, complete with body percussion! 

Island Voices had to use a very different style of vocal production for this Hungarian Piece, “Szerelem”