The Bach Family of Choirs is composed of 8 ensembles – one of the largest choral groups in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It’s the only organization that provides choral singing and education to nearly 500 voices from kindergarten to adulthood.
What was a very special performance, and what made it special?
This past year we performed Mahler’s 8th symphony with a local orchestra and featured both our children’s and adult choirs with alumni members returning to sing as well. This is such a magnificent piece that it can’t fail to be memorable and was a real highlight for all our singers. It stood out even more because we had 3 generations of the same family on stage! A member of the children’s choir had both his mom and grandfather in the orchestra. How many kids gets to sing Mahler’s 8th in the first place?! Having so many people on stage of all ages joined together in glorious music, is what it’s all about.
How do your choirs bond?
The adults have weekly coffee breaks where they get a chance to socialize. We try to go out after concerts and many of our sections lead their own socializing- for example, our Alto 1’s always go for dinner together before a show. For our children’s choirs, we just came back from our fall retreat where we all spent the weekend together and this is huge for social bonds forming for the coming year.
Choir Name: Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs
Style: Adult symphonic choir (classical) and children’s choirs
Number of singers: 450
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What was a powerful moment in a performance?
I can’t help but think of Mahler’s 8th again – those opening organ chords with the subsequent choral entry are so magnificent, you can’t help but get a huge shot of adrenaline.
Having so many people on stage, of all ages, join together in glorious music – that’s what it’s all about.
-Nina Horvath, Executive Director
What was an emotional moment in rehearsal?
At our recent retreat with our children’s choirs, after the last rehearsal, the kids weren’t ready to be done singing. A group of about 10 of them spontaneously started singing and dancing with full choreography a piece they had all learned at a summer camp together. Then, one of our singers who was preparing for her first solo audition came up to the front to sing through her piece.
The other singers applauded and cheered wildly for her, supportive every step of the way. She sang Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah” beautifully and as she sung the choruses, the choir jumped in with the harmonies they’d learned the year before for the piece. To see nearly a 100 kids all spontaneously join together in song, support each other so openly and enthusiastically and be unabashedly in love with singing are the moments that make all the hard work worth it. It’s a good thing I was standing off to the side so they couldn’t see me tearing up!
What was a challenging performance? How did you face it?
We’ve done quite a few world premieres that have challenged our members. We find it’s often helpful to bring in the composer to discuss the work, break things down into manageable pieces and put it together piece by piece. Approaching everything with an open and inquiring mind.
It’s so cool when we have multiple generations on stage at the same time. It also gives us the chance to do pieces like Carmina Burana and Mahler’s 8th that require both adult and children’s choirs to pull off!
Has there been a turning point in the life of your choir?
Right now! We’ve really been looking at how to re-invent ourselves in the last year or two, partnering and strengthening ties with a variety of community orchestras and schools. We also regularly sing for Lights of Hope, Christmas at Hycroft, CBC Foodbank Day, and the City of Vancouver Remembrance Day Ceremony. All of it has been immensely fulfilling.
What is next for the Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs?
Our season opening concert is just around the corner – this coming Saturday, October 13th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church featuring the Duruflé Requiem and Bernstein Chichester Psalms, conducted by our Associate Conductor Kathleen Allan. This is the opening of our 88th season! Tickets can be found here!
Singdaptive thanks Nina Horvath for contributing to this article along with others.
This article has contributions from Nina Horvath and others. Nina is an active musician in the Vancouver scene whether it is on stage or behind the scenes. She is excited to continue to work with the Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs, now as Executive Director, where she previously has sung with, played piano for, and worked for as Operations Coordinator.