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Twenty-three members of the Elmer Iseler Singers, a professional chamber choir, will be performing in Fort Simpson on Feb. 20. The choir is the last act in the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre's tour season to visit the village. - photo courtesy of Bo Huang
Grand finale in the North
Internationally renowned chamber choir closing tour season in Fort Simpson

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 13, 2014

For one night the gymnasium at Bompas Elementary School will be filled with the voices of 23 professional singers.

The Elmer Iseler Singers will be performing in the Fort Simpson school on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The choir is the last act in the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre's (NACC) tour season to visit Fort Simpson.

This season NACC has already brought Spin, a multi-media show, and Harry Manx, a fusion blues musician, to the village. The professional chamber choir, which is based in Toronto, Ont., is the crowning act.

"It's quite a unique event," said Marie Coderre, NACC's executive and artistic director.

"This is probably the most decorated and honored choir in Canada. They have set standards for all other choirs in Canada over the years."

The choir is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a tour of Saskatchewan and Alberta and is then coming north. The choir will perform in Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith before giving their finale in the territory in Fort Simpson.

"I wish we can have a wonderful last performance," said Coderre, who is encouraging people to spread the word about the choir to family members and friends so as large an audience as possible is in attendance.

"I hope people realize that it's not just a common choir coming," she said.

Touring with 23 people is a major and costly undertaking, she said. It is the largest group NACC has taken on a four community tour. The choir will be transported in a large coach bus.

Two Yellowknife residents will also be touring with the choir. Composer Carmen Braden and opera singer Theresa Baird are part of NACC's mentorship program. The choir will be performing a composition by Braden called Lake Skin, which includes a solo for Baird.

The choir has a repertoire that spans 500 years of choral music and people can expect to hear primarily classical works at the performance, Coderre said.

Having a good attendance is crucial. The tour is not just about bringing the choir to communities, but also about creating a cultural exchange with members of the choir meeting people in each of the communities they visit, she said.

"It's wonderful to see this calibre of music coming to our community," said Jackie Zinger, a member of the Open Sky Creative Society, which supports NACC's performances in the community.

It's amazing to see the sheer number of singers who are travelling with the choir.

Like Coderre, Zinger hopes that the community will come out and support the event.

Coderre said this tour season has been an improvement from last year. Almost all of the shows in Yellowknife were sold out and more people have been attending the performances in the communities.

"It's a work in progress," she said.

NACC is investing so much money into the communities by bringing talented performers so it's very disappointing if people don't come.

"We try to bring something different," Corderre said. "At the end of the day people have to have the curiosity of coming."

Coderre is already working on the line-up for the next season. Although she isn't ready to reveal the acts, Coderre said the season will include performing visual arts, music and theatre.

Tickets for the choir can be purchased at the door.

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