The Peterborough Singers is excited to announce the support it has received this year from the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, which is a member of 150Alliance, a network of groups, individuals, and organizations working together to help celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017.
The Singers received a grant from the CFGP not only because of the choir’s efforts in building “vibrant and healthy communities with the broadest possible engagement of all Canadians” but also in anticipation of the Canadian Women of Song concert, to be held on Saturday, February 25, 2017, just a week or so before International Women’s Day. (Also supporting this concert is corporate sponsor The Medical Centre Hearing Services.)
Pam Birrell will conduct this special concert in celebration of Canadian women singers and songwriters from across the country. “We will, of course, feature some of the best music written and performed by Canadian women, but we also want to focus on voices so often left out of the national conversation,” explained Birrell. “We will, for example, have material from First Nations and African-Canadian women.” Indeed, a featured soloist, Tonya-Leah Watts, is an 18-year-old Aboriginal woman originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island.
In conjunction with the concert, the Peterborough Singers will also engage with many non-profit organizations focused on women’s needs, rights, and interests, providing them with the opportunity to set up information booths in the concert lobby to highlight the important and necessary community work they do.
Canadian Women of Song is also part of a broader celebration, one held across the country and beyond to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. In anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial, the Peterborough Singers has joined the 150Alliance, “an open network” dedicated to making the most of our national anniversary. 150Alliance is creating a one-stop portal for local organizations and events throughout the nation as a means of strengthening national ties and establishing awareness of the multiplicities that make Canada the inclusive, unique, and diverse nation we all share.
And what better way to celebrate Canada’s anniversary and Canadian diversity than by recognizing the contributions to music made by Canadian women. “Researching the music for this concert has been a joy,” said Birrell. “The talent base in Canadian women of song is enormous. I’m sad that we can’t include more artists,” she explained. Here is her take on how the concert is shaping up:
We will take a musical journey through time, beginning with indigenous chant. We will visit the greats like Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, Serena Ryder, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Shania Twain, to name a few. Our three guest soloists—Tonya-Leah Watts, Kate Suhr, and Victoria Pearce—will help us create the various styles of music represented on our journey. Syd has been working hard writing interesting arrangements for choir, soloists, and band. We will be working again with the amazing band from our Beatles concert of 2016.
Sounds great, and we haven’t even mentioned MC Linda Kash! The choir, the soloists and guest performers, both Birrells, and the band are looking forward with great eagerness to February and this concert. After bringing song to the Peterborough region for over twenty years, the Singers believe in the power and resonance of strong artistic endeavours to build community, and the choir is keen to contribute to this national celebration of Canada’s first 150 years by honouring Canadian Women of Song.
We are also very grateful to the CFGP and 150Alliance for helping us to raise both our voices and public awareness—of women working within the arts and of community-based organizations that work for women.