Andrea Roberts directs the Shuswap Intergenerational Choir in rehearsal for its upcoming public performance at the Nexus at First on Saturday, May 5. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Andrea Roberts directs the Shuswap Intergenerational Choir in rehearsal for its upcoming public performance at the Nexus at First on Saturday, May 5. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Generations connect through song

Shuswap Intergenerational Choir rehearse for May 5 concert at Nexus

They connected through a shared love of music, and now the Shuswap Intergenerational Choir is preparing to share that love with the community.

On Saturday, May 5, the choir of singers ages four to 70 and up will be taking the stage at the Nexus at First (Salmon Arm First United Church) for an afternoon concert with special guests including Blu and Kelly Hopkins.

Choir members Keri McKeen and son Naveed Anders are both feeling anxious about the upcoming event – their first public performance with the choir.

“I’m pretty nervous, how about you?” asks McKeen.

“I’m scared…,” replies Naveed.

“Are you excited as well?” asks McKeen.

“Yeah,” smiles Naveed.

While these feelings may be shared with their fellow choir members, it was difficult to detect any discomfort during the group’s rehearsal last Friday afternoon at Andover Terrace Retirement Resort.

Led by director Andrea Roberts, the choir sang, with a playful confidence, a wide variety of music ranging from Chubby Parker’s King Kong Kitchie, to Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, to K’naan’s Wavin Flag.

Roberts explains how finding the right songs was one of the challenges she faced when the group started singing together back in September 2017.

“How do you please them all? My idea was let’s treat it like a learning opportunity for everybody,” said Roberts. “Come open-minded with the realization that you might not love everything at first but give it a chance.”

Roberts said it wasn’t until after Christmas that something clicked in the choir, and personal issues fell way to a mutual love for singing.

It was an email from Dr. Joan Bratty that got Roberts involved with the choir. Bratty has been an advocate for the social and mental benefits of music.

“I completely jumped onboard – this is something I feel pretty passionately about as far as everybody making music together,” said Roberts. “We just went from there and we approached the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice for help with it and from there it started.”

For Forever Young, Warren Farrell was one of three to share solo singing duties centre stage. He said it has been decades since he last sang solo before an audience.

“What enabled me to go up to the front originally was Andrea Roberts, the choir leader, asked for one of the older people to go up and no one came,” said Farrell. “So I thought, well, I’ll go, and my knees shook – but they don’t shake anymore.”

Roberts said the original vision for the choir was to have it consist of singers from ages 7 to 17 and 70 and above. But as the project got underway, people of ages outside of those parameters expressed a desire to take part.

“Then we thought honestly, people want to sing, why not have them come in?” said Roberts. “So what has ended up happening over the months is we have people of all ages. I think my youngest is probably four-years-old and I think she finds joy in it… it’s kind of turned into a multi-generational choir. It has far exceeded our expectations for sure.”

Initially, the choir was intended to be a fun weekly gathering. But Roberts says it turned into something she never expected.

“I think we’re sounding pretty great,” said Roberts. “So we said, why not, let’s do it, let’s have a concert.”

Doors open for the May 5 concert at 1:30 p.m., with the performance beginning at 2. Admission is by donation.

After the concert, the choir will break for the summer and then start up in September. For more information, visit the Shuswap Intergenerational Choir’s Facebook page.


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