Ten years ago, three students at the University of King’s College, Nick Halley, Ted Williams and Tim Blackwood, decided to start a chorus in their campus community. A chorus, put simply, is a choir that performs with an orchestra.
From the very start to the present, Halley has always been the director of the King’s Chorus. The chorus has grown exponentially since its inception and has attracted fans from all over Halifax.
“From doing a couple of concerts, it quickly grew into a chorus for the wider community,” Halley says.
A naturally growing group
There are members in the chorus who have been part of the group for all its 10 years. The chorus is now made up of over 80 people.
Halley says he and his friends wanted to create the chorus so there would be “an arena on campus in which all sorts of people could improve their musical skills and get two hours of music making into their lives each week.”
According to Halley, people sometimes mistake the choir as only singing church songs. While they do sing sacred music, not all the pieces they perform have religious affiliation.
Halley says the chorus has found itself “a little niche in Halifax in doing great works with an orchestra.”
“It would be hard for the chorus not to grow because what happens is, each concert, people’s friends come and go ‘Oh! I wanna sign up for that!’ and then their friends come and say, ‘I wanna sign up for that!’” explains Malcolm Sepulchre, student president of the chorus. “So, [the chorus] does grow out of the King’s community just naturally.”
Students, staff and faculty from King’s and Dalhousie University, as well as members of the wider Halifax community, are welcome to join the chorus.
Changes through the years
In one sense, Halley says, the chorus has always been the same.
“It’s a really inclusive crowd,” he says. “People are from all sorts of different walks of life and ages, but everybody is devoted to the music and are just trying to get it right, trying to learn whatever piece of music they are singing.”
The thing that has changed in the last 10 years is the structure, Halley says. The chorus has grown not only in numbers but in the understanding of what it is about.
Halley says at first, the chorus was simply an educational endeavour.
“I was really focused on teaching people the basics of music… the skills that people want to learn in terms of singing,” he says.
But numerous concerts later, the chorus became so much more than a learning space. It has grown into a performance group with professional sound and a community following.
“They put on great concerts,” Halley says. “It’s a great sound that they make.”
Bonding through music
One main lesson Halley hopes members of the chorus learn is this: “It’s not all about you, but you matter.”
“It’s not about any of the single individuals, including me,” Halley says. “The sound that comes out of the group as a whole is what matters.”
The sense of community between chorus members is not the only type of human connection the chorus makes. To Halley, the relationship between the chorus and its audience is incredibly important.
“Deep speaks to deep,” he says. “So, if what I offer you has depth, the depth within you responds. Your soul will respond as the listener, as the person in the audience.”
The chorus performs two concerts each school year: one in the fall semester, one in the winter. The 2020 winter term concert, the group’s tenth anniversary performance, was scheduled for March 15. The chorus was to sing Dixit Dominus by G.F. Handel. The show, however, was cancelled by the King’s administration to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The chorus will perform again in the fall.