Alecia Maslechko thought last year would be her final season with Nelson’s celebrated youth choir Corazón, but she just couldn’t stay away.
Her decision to stay beyond her graduating year of school paid off recently when she got to travel with 45 of her vocal compatriots and their musical director Allison Girvan to the Kaleid Festival in Woodstock, Ontario.
“I’ve never been that far east before,” said Maslechko, 19. “It was an incredible experience, and I feel really lucky that I got to be a part of it.”
The festival was an opportunity to kick the group’s choral game into high gear, as they prepared for four upcoming hometown concerts.
“We definitely weren’t prepared when we left,” said Maslechko. “But then there’s that push, that panic, and then all of sudden you just get it.”
Corazón was invited to the festival by Jennifer Moir, a prominent musical director and teacher in Ontario. She said having Corazón at the event was a dream that started when she saw them perform 10 years ago at a festival in Banff.
“The way they walked into the space, I knew something extraordinary was about to happen,” said Moir. “On stage they stood with such confidence. They stood tall like they knew who they were, proud but humble. I was in tears before they opened their mouths. Then they started to sing, and I was an emotional wreck from them on.”
When asked which numbers typically bring the audiences to tears, Maslechko mentioned Boxes, a popular number they brought back from last year.
“It’s about growing up. The audiences seem to really feel it. It’s emotional, and really relatable, I think.”
But Maslechko’s favourite number is a unique piece called Naalah, sung in Urdu, that deals with loss and healing. Though the song was written over 150 years ago, she believes the sentiments are as resonant today as when they were originally penned.
The song begins with an oboe introduction that has been adapted to a soprano solo for Hannah Jarvis Lingard.
“It’s quiet, gentle, sad. Like a longing,” said Maslechko. “Then the boys come in with a quiet hum, and it builds and builds to this huge crescendo, angry and sorrowful.”
Maslechko was especially excited that Corazon got the chance to perform and hang out with Rajaton, an a cappella vocal group from Finland.
“Allison usually describes them as the pop stars of the choral world,” Maslechko said. “At the end everyone was getting them to sign stuff. You could tell they were tired, but they were really humble and gracious,”
Along with her younger sister Oksana, 17, Maslechko bought some Rajaton CDs and got the members to sign them.
While at the festival, Corazón spent three 12-hour days with hundreds of singers ranging in age from five to 90, learning, mentoring, rehearsing and performing on their own and as part of several mass choir events.
“To have Corazón here was inspiring for the little kids who are looking up to them like big brothers and sisters,” said Moir. “But it was equally inspiring to the high school and adult singers to see that kind of example, and what kind of dedication they must have, to sing at that calibre. They all saw these are ‘normal kids’ singing like that, from a small town in the mountains of BC. That was an inspiration to everyone.”
Corazón is an auditioned choir whose members range image from 13 to 21. For the past 12 years the group has been a powerful incubator of musical talent in Nelson. The concerts will run at the Nelson United Church at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 and Tuesday, June 3. Tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre box office in person, by phone at 352-6363 or at www.capitoltheatre.bc.ca.