Sixty-three young Nelson singers have just returned from an inspired weekend at a major music festival and will be performing for local audiences on May 25 at the Nelson United Church.
Even those who know Corazón might be startled by the group’s dramatic Bollywood song-and-dance rendition of Balleilakka, which provoked an explosive, roaring standing ovation at the Rocky Mountain Music Festival in Banff this past week.
Corazón is a Nelson-based auditioned choir directed by Allison Girvan, with singers ranging in age from 13 to 21. But it’s not a conventional choir. Many of its songs involve movement, dance, unique configurations of singers, vocal and instrumental percussion, world music repertoire, and dramatically expressive faces.
“There were some powerful theatrical moments there,” said festival adjudicator Douglas Dunsmore, responding to the group’s choreographed rendition of the Charlie Winston song Boxes.
“This group is alive. It buzzes. It flies,” Dunsmore said.
Another adjudicator had kind words for the group in Banff as well. “You really touched me. I really enjoyed it so much, so I would actually rather just take you out for tea than do this workshop with you,” Lhente-Mari Pitout said during her feedback session with the group.
Pitout lives in South Africa where she directs the prestigious University of Pretoria Youth Choir. She sings, conducts, and teaches worldwide.
“There is nothing worse than a boring choir concert,” Pitout told the group. “What you guys are doing is making it fresh and mixing it up, and you are all extremely beautiful. This is not just because you have great hair or good looks, but you really turn the magic on, and it is wonderful that you have come to this level.”
Meanwhile on social media during the Banff festival, an Edmonton choral singer posted a message to Corazón on Facebook: “So many emotions. Corazon you kill me in the best possible way. I can’t remember the last time I have had that many emotions smashing together inside of me … I am blessed.”
Pitout had high praise for Girvan, whom she described as a “fantastic conductor” with a unique personal relationship with her singers.
That relationship is well known to the hundreds of singers who have passed through Corazón in the past twelve years. Girvan is well known in the West Kootenay as a beloved mentor to teenage performers, and as a teacher with the musical bar set very high.
“If there is one person I would like to be when I grow up it would be Allison,” says Corazón singer Jennifer Matosevic, 17, who has sung in Corazón for five years. “Allison is such an influential person in my life. She is so kind and generous to everyone no matter what the circumstances. She is such a beautiful musician and a beautiful person inside and out.”
“She is the reason why I sing and why I have a voice,” says 17-year-old group member Liam Long.
The May 25 concert will be the last one for Matosevic and some of the older singers who are moving away to travel or study after singing in the group for many years. But as always, a new generation of younger singers will replace them next year, enticed by the unique multi-age artistic culture of Corazón.
Don’t miss Corazón on May 25 at the Nelson United Church. There will be three shows, at 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for main floor tickets and $12 for balcony seating. Students and seniors pay $12 for all seats. Tickets are available in advance at The Music Store and Otter Books.