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Community choir set for third performance at Carnegie Hall

Members of the Flin Flon Community Choir will be heading to New York City to sing at a world-famous venue for the third time later this fall.
C07 Elly on the Arts
The Flin Flon Community Choir, as seen at Lincoln Center during their trip to perform in New York in 2013.

Members of the Flin Flon Community Choir will be heading to New York City to sing at a world-famous venue for the third time later this fall.

Performers from the chorus will perform at Carnegie Hall in November as part of a larger, international choir group, premiering a new piece written by a world-renowned composer. Members of the choir will take part in the world opening of the Twilight Mass, a piece written by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo and conducted by Jonathan Griffith, the artistic director of the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) and a frequent collaborator of the Flin Flon choir.

“We’re extremely excited to announce that,” said Crystal Kolt, the head conductor of the Flin Flon Community Choir.

The piece is written as a companion to a previous work by Gjeilo called the Sunrise Mass, which has been performed before at the world-famous concert venue.

“It’s really sublime. The harmonies are close to each other and very serene, but the music, the first piece that we got, it’s really quite joyful and fun to do,” said Kolt.

It is the third time the choir will get a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall, having done so before in 2013 and in 2016. The choir was originally supposed to perform again at the venue in April 2020 as part of an international chorus performing the famous cantata Carmina Burana, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those hopes.

“It’s going to be wonderful, especially coming off the experience we had with the cancellation of Carmina Burana due to COVID-19. It’s nice to sort of conclude that whole thing and it’s good that everything is back on track - the choir is not only back on track, but evolving,” said Kolt.

“This is our third time. It would have been our fourth time if we would have gone to Carmina Burana.”

The choir will grow their ranks for the event, taking on singers from outside the community leading up to the occasion. In the past, for their Carnegie Hall shows, choir members have sang alongside musicians from Toronto, from Winnipeg and from other communities in Manitoba and Ontario. This time will be no different, as the singers will not only be joined by others from across Canada, but a larger group of singers from around the world.

“We end up getting people participating in this from Toronto, we’ve got people from Winnipeg. We’re got about 10 people from Flin Flon, then we’ve got people from Selkirk, people from Kenora,” said Kolt.

“It’s an international choir, so it’s not just the Flin Flon Community Choir. It’s always super fun for us to go and meet these other choristers from around the world.”

Along with Gjeilo, the choir will be working alongside Griffith, who they have worked with for each of their previous runs in New York City. In 2013, Griffith coordinated and conducted the choir through a performance of Handel’s Messiah; three years later, both Griffith and the choir ran it back, performing a piece by acclaimed composer Morten Lauridsen.

The Carnegie Hall show will be the choir’s biggest event since its production of the musical Mary Poppins last spring. Performed after months of planning, auditions, casting and rehearsals and featuring both an exclusively local cast and a group of orchestral musicians who were conducted by Kolt, the show was a success, selling out the R.H. Channing Auditorium four times in three days last May.

The performance will take place Nov. 13. Kolt will direct the Flin Flon choir for their portion of the show, including organizing practices and ensuring every voice is prepared for the rigors of one of the world’s most well-known concert venues.

“What an honour - what a privilege. Truly there’s nothing better, and how lucky this little community is, as a community, as people, that we know the recipe to share this with people. The other choristers who are joining us, they’re really, super accomplished,” Kolt said.

“We’re really, really excited to provide this opportunity for our choristers to sing at Carnegie Hall. If you can sing, we can get you there.”

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