Celebrating Canada’s 153rd birthday is going to be a lot different this year due to the pandemic.
As the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) celebrates as part of a national virtual Canada Day celebration with the online festivities including performances from the likes of Joel Plaskett, Reeny Smith, and Ben Caplan, over 300 voices from across the country and around the world are joining InstaChoir in a virtual rendition of O Canada.
Launched last year, InstaChoir pivoted from in-person performances providing singers with an opportunity to learn and perform to a virtual world when the pandemic hit.
“Most of us won’t be able to celebrate Canada Day the way we normally would this year, and we want to help people connect with each other,” says Jordan Travis, founder and director of InstaChoir. “It is our hope that this virtual choir performance will bring all Canadians together, either as performers or simply by enjoying our tribute to Canada.”
Among the performers are four members from Halifax women’s a cappella chorus, ScotianAires.
No stranger to the virtual choir concept Debra Gilbert who previously participated in the Canada150 virtual choir before she joined the ScotianAires. She would later find out that ScotianAires member Joanie Langley had also taken part, with the two just a few squares away in the video.
“Singing our anthem is always an honour, but the virtual choir adds an amazing dimension; joining my heart and voice with so many people I likely will never meet in person, but who share a love of singing, and a love of our beautiful country,” says Gilbert.
Born and raised in Halifax, Langley is a proud Haligonian. “[I] wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world and am so happy to sing our national anthem,” she says.
For the ScotianAires president Tanya Reid, singing the national anthem with InstaChoir has helped ease some of the disappointment in not being able to be together.
“Social distancing during this pandemic has been hard on us all, but for singers, not being able to stand together and make beautiful music has been so difficult,” she says. “Jordan gave us an opportunity to, for four minutes, feel like we were part of something bigger. And knowing that our voices would be added with hundreds of others across Canada is pretty amazing. What a beautiful opportunity.”
In her second performance with Instachoir, the three are joined on the video by chorus member and assistant director of the ScotianAires, Adele Merritt.
“Although nothing can truly replace the thrill of singing together side by side on the risers, singing virtually is the next best thing,” she says. “I cannot wait to hear over 300 voices singing all the beautiful harmonies in this new arrangement of O Canada. I hope it brings a feeling of joy and togetherness to everyone on Canada Day.”
Performing for more than 35 years, the award-winning 60-plus member ScotianAires are a diverse group of women of all ages from across the HRM. Its repertoire runs the gamut of Broadway melodies and gospel music to the classics and contemporary hits.