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Choirs sing sweet, soulful harmonies

NANAIMO - Nanaimo Sings Festival (Oct.16-18) features 14 choirs over three-day event.
Willi Zwozdesky

During the Nanaimo Sings Festival audience members can hear everything from classical to barbershop.

It’s an extravaganza of styles, voices and ages.

“Choral singing has been growing extremely popular Canada-wide,” said Laurene Coleman, festival marketing director.

Coleman sings because for her the camaraderie is important.

“I have a very warm and supportive community I belong to,” she said. “There is something about singing in a group that is just so soul satisfying – producing harmonies together.”

Coleman said the festival also gives people a chance to listen to the singers and decide if there is a group they are interested in joining.

“Choirs are very welcoming. They want to keep them alive,” she said.

The Nanaimo Sings Festival gala concert, which is Oct. 18 at 7 p.m., features guest conductor Willi Zwozdesky. He is the conductor of the Vancouver Men’s Choir. Zwozdesky is also a choral clinician and adjudicator and volunteered for the Canadian Music Centre and the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.

In 2004 he received the Legacy Award from Gala Choruses and the Willan Award from the British Columbia Choral Federation. He is also the executive director of the B.C. Choral Federation.

The Nanaimo Sings Festival is Oct. 16-18. All performances, except the Gala Concert which is held at the Port Theatre, are held at St. Andrew’s United Church. Friday (Oct. 16) The Gabriola Island Singers and Chamber Ensemble perform from 5:30-6:30 p.m. From 8:30-9:30 the Heart of the Island A Capella Plus takes the stage.

On Saturday (Oct. 17) the Vancouver Island Symphony Children’s Choir performs with Aviva and Panache, 2:30-3:45 p.m. Yellow Point Singer, Camerata Singers and the Nanaimo Youth Choir perform from 4-5:30 p.m. while the Island Bel Canto and Sinclair Singers take the stage at 7 p.m. The night will end with a performance by Island Consort and the Malaspina Choir beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The Gala Concert is Sunday (Oct. 18) at 7 p.m. and features guest conductor Wili Zwozdesky, a noted composer from Vancouver. All the Nanaimo Sings choirs will have individual performances and one extravaganza showcase featuring all 14 choirs.

Festival passes are $15. Admission for individual concerts is $10 at the door (cash only). Gala tickets are $20 and available from the Port Theatre by calling 250-754-8550 or

For more information about the event please go to