Jenny Vincent says the organ is a dying instrument, but with her new vocal ensemble she’s aiming to show how lively it can be.
Vincent moved to Nanoose Bay from Ontario with her husband Paul three years ago and soon took on the role of music leader at Knox United Church in Parksville. There, she began her organWORX concert series, a trio of annual organ performances, one of which would include a choir.
“Organ and choir work so well together,” Vincent said. “It’s just like they’re meant to be together. The organ is like an orchestra, so I can imitate just about any instrument.”
Vincent’s aspiration to assemble the kind of high-quality choirs she worked with in Ontario led her and her husband to form the Schooner Cove Singers. The group, which includes members from across the Island, Lower Mainland and as far as Montreal, held its debut performance at Knox United Church last year.
Paul, who serves as acting executive director, said it was an “absolutely incredible event,” drawing a crowd in excess of 350 people who were on their feet by the end of the show.
“[It was] very well received and the next question was, ‘When are you going to do it again?’” he said. “So that was the spawning point for this choir and now they’re back again this year.”
The Schooner Cove Singers are presenting their new program, Of Boats and Music, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on May 4. The production will have a maritime theme.
Vincent is largely eschewing “traditional” choral and organ compositions – “Whenever you mention organ and choir, right away everybody thinks church music,” she said – in favour of pieces that allow her to demonstrate her instrument’s unexpected versatility. In one number she makes the organ imitate heaving waves, while in a Celtic song about a nautical disaster Vincent replicates a fiddle and tin whistle. Another composition incorporates whale songs.
In keeping with the aquatic theme, the concert will also feature a display of paintings by Gabriola Island artist and shipwright Tony Grove.
Incorporating other art forms is something the The Schooner Cove Singers plan to do at future concerts, Paul said. He said the goal is to make the show an “experience, ” and the group one of the best choirs in Canada.
“We’re pretty excited,” he said. “We’ve been involved with professional choirs before. We know the potential of this group and that we can really have something that people will be proud of and take ownership of in the whole area here.”
WHAT’S ON … The Schooner Cove Singers present Of Boats and Music at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 4235 Departure Bay Rd., on Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $30, available at online, via phone at 250-937-8911 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.