New choral directions for Corazón in COVID-19

Corazón in concert 2019 in Nelson. The group is a member of the Bridge Choral Collective that is offering online workshops this fall with international luminaries including the composer and musician Jacob Collier. Photo: Louis Bockner
Allison Girvan directing Corazón in 2019 in Banff. Photo: Rocky Mountain Festival
Corazón in concert 2019 in Nelson. Photo: Louis Bockner
Corazón in concert 2018 at the Rocky Mountain Festival. The group is a member of the Bridge Choral Collective that is offering online workshops this fall and winter taught by luminaries such as the composer and musician Jacob Collier. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Submitted by the Corazón Vocal Ensemble

Allison Girvan’s youth choir Corazón, which has been active in Nelson for more than 20 years, cannot rehearse or perform this fall because of the pandemic.

But the the group has other plans, and young adult singers who want to join should contact Girvan at

Normally the group has 60-plus members, performs at at least one major festival per year outside of Nelson, and forms an inspired artistic community for young performers.

Girvan, who is part of an international network of innovative choral directors, has collaborated this year with seven like-minded directors to create the Bridge Choral Collective, which can be found online at Together the directors have been brainstorming how to proceed in an era where group singing is out of the question.

The choirs in the collective are Corazón, Vancouver Youth Choir, Toronto Youth Choir, Prairie Voices (Winnipeg, MB), the Grand Philharmic Youth Choir (Kitchener, ON), and Kokopelli Choirs (Edmonton, AB).

These choirs are all roughly in the age range of 15 to 25 and are community choirs, not school groups. The directors looked at the possibilities for rehearsing and performing online.

“We realized that this was not going to be possible for us,” Girvan says, “nor was it appealing. And so we started trying to imagine what we could do that we’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to do.”

They realized that most top level international professional artists are also sitting at home in the pandemic and perhaps had time on their hands.

“We wondered if we could actually secure incredible international artists, who were also amazing teachers, to present workshops in an online format for our singers.”

The result is a series of online workshops through the fall and winter for youth choirs. The sessions will be interactive and will include flexible features like breakout groups.

Presenting: the Bridge Choral Collective. Link in bio! #bridgechoralcollective

Posted by Bridge Choral Collective on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The workshop leaders include the American singer and composer Moira Smiley as well as the Cree musician and educator Sherryl Sewapagaham, who will do a workshop based on reconciliation and how to approach Indigenous music.

“And then the big coup for us was getting Jacob Collier,” says Girvan. “Anybody who’s been nerding out on music for the past while will know who he is. He’s a genius-level musician, I think he is 25 now, and also a beautiful educator who does online tutorials and presentations.”

Other workshop presenters include the renowned University of Pretoria (South Africa) Youth Choir, members of the Finnish a capella group Rajaton, and the Irish choral director Michael McGlynn.

The instructors will also offer professional development sessions for choral directors, not restricted to the Bridge group.

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