by Charlotte Britten, a member of Ottawa Brahms Choir
Come by the Southminster United Church on Aylmer Ave. on Monday nights and you’ll hear a variety of sounds—the yelling of children practicing martial arts, the thump of the mats—and upstairs, the piano and voices of the Ottawa Brahms Choir practicing.
The choir, which is a non-auditioned classical choir, is just part of Ottawa’s massive choir community, which includes choirs for a variety of levels all across the city.
The Ottawa Brahms Choir is led by director Christopher Askwith, and accompanied by pianist Svetlana Logigan. They put on two concerts each year, in December and April, performing a variety of classical works from the likes of Bach, Rachmaninoff, Handel, and of course, Brahms. Currently, they are working on a spring concert featuring both religious and secular music around the theme of rebirth. The concert takes place Sunday April 19 from 3pm to 5pm.
Being a non-auditioned choir means it’s a great option for people who are interested in learning more about classical music, with all levels of experience.
“It’s a welcoming and supportive place to learn to sing,” said Michelle Morris, who had never sung in a choir before joining Ottawa Brahms Choir last fall, and now sings alto with the group.
The community choir scene is Ottawa is diverse.
“There is a choir here for every singer, no matter their ability or skill level or musical interest,” said Sheilah Craven, the General Manager of The Leading Note, an independent store on Elgin Street which specializes in sheet music.
Craven even told Apt613 that the choir community helped establish The Leading Note’s success in early days.
“It was thanks to Ottawa’s robust choral community… that we have been able to grow into one of the most well-respected choral music suppliers in Canada,” she said.
When asked what people should know about the choir community, Craven didn’t hesitate.
“There is something very special about a group of people combining their voices in harmony to make art together,” she said, also highlighting that recent studies had shown that singing has social, emotional and physical benefits. Craven herself sings with the Ottawa Choral Society.
Community choirs like the Ottawa Brahms Choir depend on membership to keep going, and are always looking for new people to join them.