A chorus aimed exclusively at young men aged 12 to 20, is extending its vocal range by venturing into the Valley.
Now in its second year, MYVoice (the name is short for Moblizing Young men’s Voices) is expanding from Vancouver and New Westminster to include regular rehearsals at Langley Fine Arts School.
Langley’s central location in the Fraser Valley was one factor in the decision to locate the third branch of the boys’ chorus here — but not the only one, said Kevin Zakresky, who serves as the assistant conductor of Vancouver men’s ensemble, Chor Leoni — from which MYVoice has sprung — and co-ordinates the junior program.
“I adjudicated the Langley Kiwanis Festival last year. I was astounded and delighted by the excellent music making in the Valley,” he said.
“The Fine Arts School is a great facility and (the choral program) is led by a brilliant man, Jim Sparks.”
Zakresky hopes to draw members from eastern Surrey, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and Mission to rehearsals, which begin in January.
The three groups will train separately for 12 weeks before coming together for a concert in April, where they will perform alongside Chor Leoni.
From African music to opera, vocal jazz , chorus standards and a commissioned piece about dragon slaying, the ensemble offers a sampling of musical styles over the three-month period.
Twelve weeks is a relatively minor commitment, said Zakresky. From there, the group has the potential act as a feeder for Chor Leoni or, more immediately, for school choirs which, as Zakresky points out, are always in need of tenor and bass voices.
“Come September, maybe they’ll decide they’re going to join the choir then.
“It gives the opportunity for young guys to try something out, without it being ‘choir.’ It’s like being on the team,” he said.
“Choir is such a commitment at school; you have to know you’re going to like it.”
Another advantage of MYVoice, is that boys can take part regardless of their musical background.
“You don’t need any experience. If you have musical training, that’s great, but it’s open to anyone who wants to try it,” said Bruce Hoffman, a spokesman for the group.
And it’s entirely free.
“MYVoice gives (boys) a chance to sing without any costs involved,” Hoffman said.
“For some, (a fee) would be a barrier and we wouldn’t see them. That would be a shame,” added Zakresky.
Given the choice between $100 to spend on choir or on video games, the choir would lose out in a lot of cases, he said.
The funding for MYVoice is being provided by RBC and Telus as well as through smaller, private donations.
“That they would support a youth chorus is really marvelous,” Zakresky said.
Last year, 75 boys took part in the two fledgling choruses. This year, he hopes to see that number increase to about 120 — 40 in each ensemble.
The finale concert, when the MYVoice singers will have a chance to sing with Diane Loomer and Chor Leoni, will be held at Queens Avenue United Church in New Westminster on April 28.
To learn more, go to www.chorleoni.org/myvoice. To watch a rehearsal of MYVoice, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcODYMqZalo