By Vivian Collings
Three local choir groups in the Highlands hope to bring the joy of singing to interested new members of all ages to join them in harmonious melody.
The Highlands Harmony Choir, led by Laurel McCauley, the Highlands Youth Choir, led by Beth Kipping, and the Highlands Festival Singers, led by Melissa Stephens, are all seeking new members.
“Singing and music to me is another friend, and I feel like I’m giving [the singers] another friend for life. Music is something one can turn to when they’re happy, sad, and lonely. Music can really help with your feelings. I really try and instill that in the kids,” Kipping said.
The Highlands Youth Choir is for children ages eight to late-teens.
Kipping has been leading the choir for 14 years and currently has about 12 youth singers that practice in her home every Monday evening.
She said the experience is rewarding for kids because it allows them to experience music in a non-threatening environment with or without a prior singing background.
“This is the experience they get. There’s not much music in schools anymore, and it’s really important for kids to be exposed to music. We have a lot of fun, and at the same time, they learn singing,” Kipping said.
Participating in the choir also allows singers to create long-lasting friendships with others from throughout the county.
“They get to meet kids of different ages, but they’re all on the same level. It’s a really neat transition,” she said.
Kipping said the older participants guide the younger ones with their singing.
“When they come in brand new, by the time they’ve been here six or seven years, they’re leaders in the choir. It’s really fulfilling to see that happen,” she said.
The Highlands Youth Choir, along with the other two local choirs, welcomes members from throughout the county.
“I have kids that are homeschooled, I have kids who go to public school, some kids have been driven in from Wilberforce, so this is county-wide. It’s really important to me to give this opportunity to all kids,” Kipping said.
Kipping said most of the children in the choir previously have graduated, so she is starting with a new group.
For older singers
The Highlands Harmony Choir changed its name from the Shout Sister Choir in 2021, but has been singing together since 2011.
“There were 24 members to start and the choir grew to over 50 before the pandemic. At that time we moved to Zoom practices and just kept on singing,” McCauley said.
Members do not need to have experience reading music.
“They can learn by ear from recorded tracks. The music is a mix of old rhythm and blues and contemporary pop,” McCauley said.
The Highlands Festival Singers are planning a Christmas concert for Dec. 4 and 6, called Hallelujah, We’re Back Live, at the Haliburton United Church on 10 George Street.
High school age singers and up are welcome to sing with the Highlands Festival Singers, no auditions required.
The Highlands Youth Choir meets at Kipping’s home on County Road 21 in Haliburton on Monday evenings from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. The Highlands Harmony Choir meets on Thursday evenings, and the Highlands Festival Singers meet on Tuesday evenings, both at the Haliburton United Church.
Norma Goodger, a singer and treasurer of the Highlands Festival Singers, also said the experience of singing with a group of people is very rewarding.
“We would really love to get some more people joining to enjoy singing with a group of people,” she said.
Contact Kipping to join the Highlands Youth Choir by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone, 705-457-4916. Email email@example.com or call Kipping to express interest in the Highlands Festival Singers. Contact McCauley, firstname.lastname@example.org, to express interest in the Highlands Harmony Choir.
“It’s all about the joy of singing for all local choir groups. We want to share that with others,” Kipping said.