By David Francey

I had a new musical experience on the weekend just past. It took place in Kingston Ontario and involved 94 or 50 other performers. In case you are imagining David Francey and his extraordinarily Large Band, a la Lyle Lovett, I should rush to clarify. Dave Clarke and I had the honour of singing and playing with the Open Voices Community Choir directed by Andy Rush, in concert at McArthur Auditorium on the Queens University campus. I’m convinced Andy is really pure energy that occasionally takes the form of a man. I’m at a loss to think of any other individual I have met who can impart such an intense sense of purpose and joy in what they are involved in. This man had, during a period of 12 weekly rehearsals, taken a group of enthusiastic singers and molded them into a splendid choral group. I have always enjoyed choral music, especially live, and I have to say I was firmly taken aback by the power and joy that was so evident on the evening. Our brief rehearsal in the afternoon with the members who could make it was merely an enjoyable foretaste of the evening performance. I am indebted to those choir members who were there, for their patience and encouragement. It was a very foreign situation for me and Andy and the choir were very accommodating. I kept listening to them and forgetting to sing.

Come the evening performance the hall was sold out and, with the full choir in attendance, things could have been completely overwhelming. The evening, however, proved to be one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve had singing the songs I’ve written. The beautiful harmonies and the exultant power of massed voices behind me was an intensely rewarding thing. I could have passed a perfect evening just listening to the choir itself. To take part in the performance and to sing with such a welcoming group of people was an honour indeed. Twelve weeks from next week there will be another evening of song in Kingston, and I would encourage all in the area to attend. It is a tribute to Andy Rush’s talent and dedication and that of the choir members themselves, that all who were present this time around enjoyed themselves so thoroughly. A personal highlight for me was meeting the members afterwards, and being so warmly accepted by them. Well done, one and all and many many thanks.

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