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Many voices raised in song

Karen Mackenzie
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 20, 2007

IQALUIT - Over the past few years, the Iqaluit Community Choir has evolved out of casual potluck sing-alongs into a well-organized chorus of voices and a frequent fixture at local gatherings.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Peter Workman, director of the Iqaluit Community Choir, runs through a vocal part. - Karen Mackenzie/NNSL photo

With songs sung in three of the territory's languages, they are working to better reflect the local population, according to founding member Heather Daley.

"My whole goal is for us to bring our cultures together, and for us to learn the language and to become part of the community," Daley explained. "We want to have members from all different backgrounds, young people and old people, trying to mirror where we live."

As the group's only Inuktitut speaker, Leena Evic is currently lending valuable language skills to the group, as well as her voice. The choir now performs a handful of Inuktitut songs, including Charlie Adam's popular Quviasuppunga.

"I went to one of their practices and I got hooked," said Evic with a laugh. "I also thought it was very welcoming to have them encourage me to teach them songs in my language."

While their programs may seem challenging, choir director Peter Workman stressed its open-door policy.

"You don't have to know how to read music to sing with us, although some have musical backgrounds. All that we ask is that you come to rehearsals," Workman said.

Singers fluent in Inuktitut would be particularly welcome, according to Evic.

"It would be wonderful for more Inuktitut-speaking people to join in, especially people with musical talent," Evic said. "Music is for everybody. Using multiple languages is a wonderful way to entertain the community, and you appreciate another language more closely when you sing it."

The choir, which is one of the many offshoots of the busy Iqaluit Music Society, generally performs about 10 times a year. Rehearsals, which take place every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Inuksuk high school, attract anywhere between 12 to 24 people.

"The biggest thing is learning to be part of a group, to have your voice blend with the people around you as you work together to make something bigger than you - people working together to make something special," said Jane Chisholm, who is entering her second year with the choir.

Their next show will likely be on Remembrance Day.