Gala ‘A Choired Afternoon’ concert supported refugees

(All nine choirs performing at ‘A Choired Afternoon’ on November 3rd under the Direction of Scott Auchinleck and Accompanied by Bonnie MacDiarmid. All Photos: Phil Sweetnam)

A gala concert featuring six different choirs filled St. Thomas Anglican Church with a variety of beautiful harmonies last Sunday afternoon, November 3rd. The concert, called “A Choired Afternoon”, collected $1400 from its audience in a freewill offering that will be given to the Kanata-Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group. Chair of the group, United Church minister Grant Dillenbeck, thanked the audience for their support and explained that five local churches have supported refugees for the last 27 years bringing over 100 people to Canada during that time period.

(St. Thomas Anglican Church Choir.)

The Kanata/Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group (KSRSG) was formed in 1996 and has eight member churches, five from Kanata (Kanata and Glen Cairn United, St. John’s and St. Paul’s Anglican and Trinity Presbyterian), and three from Stittsville (St. Andrews Presbyterian, St. Thomas Anglican and Stittsville United). The KSRSG sponsors United Nations Convention refugees from around the world, giving them a safe haven from life-threatening situations and the opportunity for a new life in Canada by providing financial and all other necessary support for one year.  The KSRSG has sponsored 10 individuals and families, and we are awaiting the arrival of four more families.  We have also assisted other churches in sponsoring refugees, bringing the total number of people we have assisted to over 80.  Until recently Canada was the only country to provide private sponsorships, but other countries are now following in our footsteps. Please contact any of our member churches if you would like to help us with our life-saving efforts.

(Stittsville United Church Choir with Director Allison Houston.)

The concert was organized by St. Thomas Choir Director Pat Brush and it’s the third year this concert has taken place. The idea of having such a concert was the brainchild of St. Thomas Outreach Chair Bonnie McNally and Pat Brush. Last year the Stittsville Food Bank was the recipient of the funds.

(St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Choir.)

The choirs come from a variety of backgrounds. Three Stittsville church choirs took part – St. Thomas Anglican, St. Andrews Presbyterian and Stittsville United Choirs, plus the Harmony Singers from downtown Ottawa, a Celtic group called Rare Blend, and the Goulbourn Male Chorus. Music was both sacred and secular and all the choirs massed together for three final numbers under the direction of Scott Auchinleck, Director of the Goulbourn Male Chorus.

(The Goulbourn Male Chorus with Director Scott Auchinleck.)

The music was glorious – everything from Norman Luboff’s “Still, Still, Still,” to “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” to the 11th century plainsong “Where All Love and Charity Are”. Rare Blend, the Celtic group, sings a capella, and provided some exquisite harmonies in “I Gave My Love a Cherry”.

(Celtic group Rare Blend singing a capella gave a rousing performance.)

Bonnie MacDiarmid on the piano and Scott Auchinleck on the organ played a duet partway through the concert. Mrs. MacDiarmid also accompanied several of the choirs with great sensitivity.

(Ottawa Harmony Singers performing.)

Plans are already afoot for next year’s concert. It’s a chance to hear some wonderful choral music in a setting with excellent and a worthy purpose for the proceeds of the concert.

(Ottawa Harmony Singers members, Celia Houtman and Sue Sandul, stepped their way to the beat of ‘This is it!’ much to the delight of the audience.) 

(Editor’s Note: I would like to personally thank Barbara Bottriell and Rev. Grant Dillenbeck for their joint writing of this story, and, of course, Phil Sweetnam for providing the excellent photographs.)


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