What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?
We tend to drop big bombs mid rehearsal, in the most non chalant of ways, just to see their reactions. Here are some examples:
- Hey everyone so an agency reached out to us and would like us to appear in Shawn Mendes’ music video “If I can’t have you”.
- Hey everyone, we’re going to have a photoshoot today.
- Hey everyone, Warner music would like our participation in their virtual choir videos.
It’s always great to see the reactions!
Choir Name: New Genesis Gospel Chorale (NGGC)
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Number of singers: 18
Online sites: www.nggcmusic.org
Choir Director Name: Andre Williams, Chantelle Williams
How does your choir bond as a group?
We may have conversations during rehearsal, special outings just to bond, and interesting conversations sparked within our group chats.
An emotional moment you had in a performance?
When we had our second concert (raising funds for mental health), many of our members (at points throughout the concert) began to cry as messages from songs such as “Hold on Just a Little While Longer” resonated with their personal struggles to maintain their own mental stability on a regular basis.
Something you do with your choir that others might find bizarre!
We will have members go up on stage and perform sections of songs with interesting instructions. To work on the wall of ‘shame’ that often hinders one’s stage presence the instruction given was to perform the song in the most embarrassing way possible, while maintaining the integrity of the notes. It was quite entertaining to watch.
What was a very special performance and what made it special?
Without external assistance we managed to host, pay for and sell-out our first concert through collective planning and execution. It showed us how valuable team work really is.
How does your choir approach a new piece of music?
Typically, we, as the directors, will come up with songs based on the strengths and weaknesses of the choir. From there, we will present the song, explain the kinds of technical elements to pay attention to, and evaluate the singers’ development on the piece each step of the way.
A challenging performance and how you faced it.
During one of the songs we were singing at our first concert, Andre (conductor) walked off the stage mid performance during a sustained note (requiring stagger breathing) for two reasons:
- To demonstrate his trust in NGGC publicly and as a means of boosting the morale of the choir
- To recollect his thoughts to get back in the game and let the show go on
Needless to say, this was one of the most memorable moments on NGGC. Our choir sustained the note for approximately one minute, and the audience was enamored by such a feat. Especially because at the time, this was the first live performance on stage for the majority of our members.
What is your audition process?
We have two application processes, one that is geared towards more experienced singers, and one geared to be inclusive. Our inclusive process is as it states, if interested one need only apply and answer a few questions. The questions are constructed to let both our administration and the applicant know whether they are fit to join at the time of application.
Our selective process is geared towards filling gaps wherever needed. This is typically just a voice part filling process, so in the event we need sopranos, we require that applicants send a recording performing a selection of our choices to gauge whether they would function (under our expectations) as a soprano on NGGC, just to name an example. Together this process helps us to maintain the inclusive but structured nature of NGGC.
Andre and Chantelle Williams are co directors of New Genesis Gospel Chorale. Chantelle combines her skillset in visual arts and music to drive the artistic direction and development of the group. Andre’s skillset in policy and music help to harness the potential of the choir while contributing to his ability to act as the on stage conductor for their live performances. This is always facilitated by Chantelle’s discrete management for all music performed live, before and during the performance itself, while she is on stage. This dual-conductor system is unique and has worked to benefit the growth of NGGC.