McLaughlin's Community Choir goes virtual for its second season

With the University in COVID-19 mitigation and lockdown for the academic year, the McLaughlin College Community Choir (MCCC) is continuing its second season online as a virtual choir. During the last academic, and foundational year, it met weekly in McLaughlin College’s Senior Common Room, with its warm, congenial space and acoustics. The space echoes with McLaughlin College’s long-standing musical history. It houses two grand pianos – a Bechstein grand belonging to the first Master of McLaughlin College, George Tatham, and a Steinway grand that was played by one of the college’s most famous Fellows, the great jazz musician, Oscar Peterson. This music tradition was continued last year by the formation of the McLaughlin College Community Choir under Music Director Sebastian Moreno.

The McLaughlin College Community Choir participants during a Zoom choir session

The McLaughlin College Community Choir participants during a Zoom choir session

“We miss doing our weekly rehearsals in the familiar and pleasant confines of the McLaughlin College Senior Common Room with all its history, and, we will also miss performing live at the College’s annual events, such as the Robbie Burns Night and Poetry Contest and the First Year Student Dinner. However, we are adapting, like everyone else, to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moreno said. “Our rehearsals are now taking place over Zoom and the choir will be creating a series of virtual choir videos that will be released throughout the school year.”

“It is an entirely different musical process, obviously, than a group of people coming together in the same in-person space to sing. But the strong sense of community and togetherness is still very much evident at our rehearsals,” said Moreno.

The MCCC is York University’s only community choir. Membership is open to all students, staff, faculty, college Fellows and alumni. No prior musical or choir experience is necessary, and no auditions are required to join. It is a gathering of those who love music, of all kinds, and enjoy performing together.

“One of the reasons we established the MCCC,” said the Head of McLaughlin College, Professor James Simeon, “was to offer all our students an opportunity to engage in a enjoyable activity outside their studies that is of real benefit to them in so many ways.

“Research has demonstrated that those who sing in choirs benefit both physically as well as mentally from the communal experience. It is a proven destressor, but it can also be inspirational, not to mention educational. It helps to build social engagement for our students with our faculty and staff within our college and across the University. It is one of many extracurricular activities that we offer our students not only here at McLaughlin College, but, across the entire University. Everyone is welcome.”

For its second season the MCCC will build on its repertoire of musical favourites from last season to include music from Broadway musicals, Pop classics and holiday hits. “Our music draws from the experiences of our members and choristers are always encourage to suggest new music that they would like to perform,” said Moreno. “We all enjoy taking on new musical numbers that can be performed and this season, it will have to be virtually at some of the College’s planned major virtual annual events. New members to our choir are always welcomed.”

Members of the York University community who are interested in joining the MCCC should contact Moreno at sebastiandmoreno@gmail.com.

For more information on the MCCC, visit the McLaughlin College website’s Music pages, https://mclaughlin.laps.yorku.ca/music/ and the MCCC  Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/McLaughlinCollegeCommunityChoir.

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