The voice has been often described as “the most beautiful instrument” and as “the mirror to the soul.” When it is combined with others to form a chorus, it becomes part of that great choral tradition that can move us in so many inspirational ways. If you have ever wanted to sing in a choir, are an experienced choralist or simply enjoy the company of others who love music, now is your opportunity. McLaughlin College is set to launch its community choir on Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in 140 McLaughlin College (the Senior Common Room).
McLaughlin College is steeped in a deep musical heritage and tradition that goes back to its very foundations, when the first master (now called head) of the College, George Tatham, a great pianist himself, insisted that he would only take up the position if York University provided him with a Bechstein piano. Murray Ross, the first president of York University, happily obliged and Tatham regularly played the Bechstein on many occasions, formal and informal. Tatham attracted students, faculty, and staff and welcomed the Department of Music to McLaughlin College. This early musical tradition was carried on by other McLaughlin College heads. At some point, the college acquired its own grand piano, a Steinway, which was played regularly by the late jazz musician Oscar Peterson, who was one of McLaughlin’s most distinguished Fellows. Peterson served as chancellor of York University from 1991 to 1994.
“We are delighted to be establishing the McLaughlin College Community Choir (MCCC) for all members of our college, but especially our students,” said McLaughlin College head James Simeon. “Music is in our roots and by establishing a community choir at McLaughlin College, we want to bring our community together in song, and in doing so, engage our students, faculty and staff in the life of our college.” Simeon added that his personal love for choral music could not be long contained and that since his appointment as the head of McLaughlin, he has endeavoured to establish a choir at the college.
“Over the last few months, we have put together the MCCC Board that is chaired by York Professor Stephanie Martin, director of graduate studies in the Department of Music. She is a world-renowned musician, conductor, and composer and, I should also add, a noted authority on community choirs,” said Simeon. “We are fortunate to have her with us on the MCCC Board and guiding us in our efforts to launch the community choir.” Martin is the recipient of the 2018 York University Creative Achievement Award for her opera, The Llandovery Castle.
One of the first tasks of the MCCC Board was to find a choir director to set the foundations for the MCCC and to get things underway. Sebastian Moreno, an alumnus of the music program at York University, an accomplished musician in his own right and a current master’s student in music, has years of experience in community choirs and conducting choirs.
“I am very pleased to take on the challenge of being the founding choir director of the MCCC,” said Moreno. “McLaughlin College has an exceptional musical tradition that we would like to continue to build on. I very much look forward to all those at McLaughlin College, and York University, who wish to join us in making music through song. No one should feel inhibited in coming out for our first meeting of the new academic year on Sept. 11. Our community choir is for everyone. All are welcome to join us.”