The Story of the Arnprior Community Choir
by Marilyn Campbell
by Marilyn Campbell
It's a warm, early September evening and you're strolling past the Legion Hall on Daniel Street in Arnprior. As you walk past the hall you swear that you can hear Christmas music. But in September? Yes, in September. What you are hearing is the Arnprior Community Choir (ACC) beginning rehearsals for its annual December Christmas concert "Sing Noel".
Everyone will agree that Arnprior is a hockey and sports town. But many are unaware that the town also has a very active and beloved community choir. The size of the Arnprior Community Choir varies from 65 to 95 members, both men and women, with ages ranging from 25 to 85! Members come from many different towns and hamlets - some as far away as Carleton Place and Ottawa.
The home-grown choir evolved from a night school Continuing Education course at the Arnprior District High School in the fall of 1991. The choir class was amongst courses like bridge, watercolours, and sewing. Its first-year enrolment was only 15 people.
Lisa Webber had been approached to teach the course by individuals who wanted to set up a community choir. And she had all the prerequisites: a Bachelor of Music (BMus) and Bachelor of Education (BEd) from the University of Lethbridge specializing in elementary, intermediate, and senior choral music, and a Master of Music (M.Mus.) in Vocal Performance from Ottawa U.
Before long, the word reached choral singers in Arnprior and the Ottawa Valley that there was now an "official" community choir. The number of registrants doubled to 20 the following January (1992) requiring a move to a different location for rehearsals. That September, membership doubled again to 40. Within a year the choir was firmly established.
In its first year the choir performed throughout the community at nursing homes and for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. Well-attended (and eventually sold out) ticketed concerts began in 1992 with two concerts held each year, one at Christmas and one in the spring. The spring concert alternated between classical and pop music.
ACC has always given back to the community through fundraising concerts and singalongs at various organizations and seniors' homes. Lisa's philosophy is: "If someone asks, and we'll sing!" The choir has performed in Arnprior, Almonte, White Lake, Pakenham, Kanata, Nepean, and Renfrew.
The choir has also participated in and supported the Renfrew Music Festival and the Ottawa Valley Music Festival and gives two substantial scholarships each year. One is given to a graduating student at Arnprior District High School, and the other is given to the winner of the Renfrew Music Festival highest mark in the Senior Concert Group Class.
Considering that statistics show more people in Canada sing in a choir than play hockey (shocking!), the ACC can easily expect to continue to grow and provide beautiful choral music for many years to come.
Visit www.arnpriorcommunitychoir.com for more information about the choir and upcoming concerts.