By Olivia Bednar
The Oakham House Choir performed in a collaborative concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Jan. 18 representing not only Ryerson, but all of Canada.
Alongside 280 singers, the Oakham choir participated in “The Music of Karl Jenkins: A Concert for Peace.”
“We feel very proud,” said Brenda Millar, the choir manager. “They [were all] wearing Canadian pins that one of our members got from their MP.”
The choir festival was organized by Distinguished Concerts International New York and they invited choirs from all over the world.
“It’s the opportunity to perform on a large stage and work with professionals,” said Millar. “This performance at Carnegie Hall is very exciting and many of those who [were] able to go said it [had] been on their bucket list of things to do.”
The choir performed Jenkins’ classic “The Armed Man: Mass for Peace” and had the chance to rehearse personally with the composer in New York City a few days prior to their performance. Music director Matthew Jaskiewicz used Jenkins’ presence at the concert as inspiration to perfect the piece over a six-month rehearsal period.
“We [were] very excited that Karl Jenkins of that masterwork [was going to be] there,” Jaskiewicz said. “He is like a God in the chorus scene.”
Jade Chiasson-Hould, the student president of the choir, also said simply being invited to perform was “a great honour” and an opportunity to “share [their] love of music.”
“It was an experience of a lifetime,” said Millar. “We will treasure [this] as we carry forward [the] many lessons [we] learned to our rehearsals and concerts at Oakham House and beyond.”
The Carnegie Hall performance wasn’t the choir’s only milestone, 2015/16 also marked their 30th anniversary. Jaskiewicz and former Ryerson English professor Marie Dowler established the choir in 1984.
“That was a long time ago and it was a tiny group which eventually grew and became what it is now,” said Jaskiewicz.
“I find it unbelievably amazing that the Oakham House Choir has reached such a milestone with its 30th anniversary,” Chaisson-Hould said.
The choir currently has approximately 80 singers and is always looking for more people to join.